Fighting for Florida

On this 109th anniversary of Cuban Independence, we honor the patriots who took Cuba’s initial steps toward freedom. The spirit and values that drove Cuba’s Independence movement still live on among the country’s pro-democracy leaders who have demonstrated increasing boldness and courage as they risk their lives each day in defense of Cuba’s founding principles.

Those principles of freedom and self-determination are universal values that should be encouraged in places like Cuba where they are forbidden – and where the Cuban people’s dignity and inherent right to be free is constantly trampled.

As a son of Cuban exiles, this important anniversary in Cuba’s history is an especially poignant reminder of the work that must be done to support Cubans on the island who simply long to be independent from oppression and free to live their lives as they wish.

The exile community’s long-standing solidarity with Cuba’s courageous patriots is a demonstration to the absolute truth that there is no work taking place around the world more important than supporting people who yearn to be what God intended them to be – free.

Recent events in the Middle East should offer us hope as we see millions of oppressed people reaching their limits and demanding that nothing less than their freedom is an unacceptable human condition. My sincere hope is that this Arab Spring will soon give way to a Cuban Spring.

America’s support is crucial to encourage this needed change in Cuba. The Cuban people need to know that America stands by them in our words and deeds. I challenge the Obama Administration and my colleagues in Congress to prove our commitment to the fundamental truths we hold to be self-evident by providing the tools necessary for the Cuban people to advance their cause of liberty, including access to information. Whether in Eastern Europe during the Cold War or the Middle East of today, there is no substitute for America’s principled, unfettered support for homegrown pro-democracy movements if we hope to help oppressed nations create a more hopeful and prosperous future.

Each and every day, and especially on this anniversary of Cuba’s independence, I stand in solidarity with the Cuban people.