MIAMI – The death of Fidel Castro was cause for celebration for citizens of South Florida, including community, county and city leaders who shared their thoughts on the passing of the former Cuban dictator.
In a joint media conference Saturday Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, spoke about Castro, who died at 90, and political prisoners on the communist Caribbean island nation.
Ros-Lehtien said that people shouldn't expect changes from Castro's death.
"The only thing that Fidel Castro has been successful at is staying power, period," she said.
She then spoke about her own journey out of Cuba at 8 years old as a day she will "never forget."
"My mom and dad, both worked hard for a free Cuba and it saddens me deeply that they never got the opportunity to see their native homeland bathed in liberty and democracy," she said, adding she hopes to be there when the country does turn into a democracy.
But she doesn't expect that change to come soon.
"While Fidel may be hailed by some as a great leader, nothing could be further from the truth or ignorant of the facts," she said. "The truth is he was a sadistic murderer, who brought great suffering to the 11 million people of Cuba."
Mario Diaz-Balart spoke about the families that were displaced and people who were hurt under the Castro government.
"Some like to claim that he's done some good things, when in fact all it has caused is sadness, tragedy and death," Mario Diaz-Balart said. "The other thing I am reminded of is that it's a regime that is on its last leg."
He said nature "took care" of Castro and will soon "take care" of his 85-year-old brother Raul Castro, who took over as Cuba's leader a decade ago.
Curbelo echoed that messaged, and spoke about his family members and others who have been imprisoned by the government of Cuba.
"The dictatorship remains and therefore our policy and out people here in the United States should stand in absolute solidarity with Cuba's freedom fighters," he said.
He said the interest of those "freedom fighters" should be supported.
Lincoln Diaz-Balart called Castro the "brain of evil," in Cuba and said he was in favor of terrorism.
"That brain and coordinator has died," he said.
CONGRESSWOMAN ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
MIAMI-DADE MAYOR CARLOS GIMENEZ
CUBAN ACTIVIST RAUL SAUL SANCHEZ
MIAMI MAYOR TOMAS REGALADO
CONGRESSMAN LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART
CONGRESSMAN CARLOS CURBELO