Cuban man cleans Russian communist symbol off Ponce de Leon monument in Miami

MIAMI – A vandal recently used red spray paint to outline the Russian Communists’ symbol of the hammer and the sickle over a plaque at the controversial monument to Juan Ponce de León in downtown Miami.

The color was offensive to Jose Armas. Red started to be associated with socialism in the 19th century and with communism after the Marxist-Leninist forces’ victory in Russia.

After a busy day of protests, Armas returned to the Torch of Friendship monument on Monday at Biscayne Park. He brought a ladder and cleaning supplies.

“I don’t like the people doing this,” Armas said. “I don’t like communism.”

Armas was born in Cuba. The lives of many Cuban families who sought refuge in Miami were destroyed after Fidel Castro declared he was a socialist, a Marxist and a Leninist in 1961.

Armas, who is a U.S. Citizen, said he supports freedom of expression and the rights of the Black Lives Matter protesters, he just doesn’t like vandalism or the politics the symbol represents.

About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.