Scott urges Castro to bring freedom, democracy to Cuba

Florida governor drafts letter to Cuban leader seeking change


MIAMI – Florida Gov. Rick Scott drafted a letter Tuesday to Cuban leader Raul Castro, urging him to bring freedom and democracy to the neighboring island nation.

Scott's letter candidly speaks of the celebrations on the streets of Miami last month after the death of Castro's late brother, Fidel. Scott said the celebrations "represented the hope for an end to the decades of torture, repression, incarceration and death" in Cuba under Castro rule.

The governor also criticized Raul Castro's chosen successor upon his planned retirement in 2018. Scott said the leadership that Castro has chosen "is designed to keep your oppression intact and to keep your people trapped."

File: Gov. Rick Scott's letter to Raul Castro

"After Pope Francis' trip to Cuba, you suggested that you may return to the church and pray again," Scott wrote. "My prayer for you and the Cuban people is that you listen to Pope Francis and focus on bringing absolute freedom and democracy to Cuba."

Scott said Castro has a "tremendous and historic opportunity" to bring "freedom and opportunity" to Cuba.

"The people of Florida and of the entire United States are ready to help make your country an overnight success with unprecedented levels of trade and capital investment," Scott said.

Scott said Castro could also continue to choose a path of "oppression, tyranny, wrongful imprisonment, torture and murder."

"No one thinks you will choose the way of freedom, the way of democracy, the way of peace," Scott wrote. "People will mock this letter and call it naive. But, for the sake of the Cuban people, I pray change will come."

Republican and Democratic political strategists believe the letter is trying to appeal to Cuban-American voters, as he is positioning himself for a run at the U.S. Senate. Scott said last month that he is considering seeking the seat held by Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

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