Ana Maria Rodriguez’s ‘communist victims’ bill spurs sharp debate
Ana Maria Rodriguez and Tina Polsky.

Critics argue the bill ignores other oppressive forms of government.

Definitions of communism, socialism, fascism, totalitarianism, economic theories and dictatorships were aired in debate Tuesday as senators sorted what Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez had in mind with her bill to create a holiday memorializing victims of communism.

Is it a stand against places like Fidel Castro‘s Cuba, or a red-meat bill for a Republican base that has reestablished communism as a front-line threat to American democracy?

For Rodriguez, a Doral Republican, the definitions of various totalitarian ideologies bandied about in Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Community Affairs clearly all referred to the same thing: the brutal end results of communism that her parents fled when they escaped Cuba and which have cost an estimated hundred million lives worldwide since the Bolsheviks first came to power in Russia in 1917.

She responded mainly to Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat whose grandparents escaped Czarist Russia, and who argued there are many kinds of brutal totalitarianism not cited in SB 1606. She added communism is an economic system, not a form of government.

“There are other descriptions. As you said, there’s fascism. And many of those feed into communism,” Rodriguez said in response. “Fascism. Socialism is also a term that is used interchangeably with communism. But communism is the ultimate direction which all these types of ideologies end up in practice becoming. Communism.”

For Polsky, Rodriguez’s bill singles out one system and doesn’t really address totalitarian governments that brutalize their people, which often are based on many other economic systems.

“This bill is not about America. This bill is about our stand on communism itself,” Polsky said.

The bill speaks exclusively to communism, establishing Nov. 7 as Victims of Communism Day. It also directs that “The Legislature shall, on the final day of each regular Legislative Session, observe a moment of silence in observance of the victims of communism.”

The committee overwhelmingly approved the bill.

Polsky, as well as Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell of West Palm Beach, suggested the bill might be nothing more than a partisan attempt to inject anti-Communist rhetoric into Senate legislation, a push for a red-meat bill to stoke political division, not to recognize victims of brutal regimes.

“Words matter. I actually don’t know how I’m going to vote on this bill, because if I vote against it, it makes me look like a leftist commie,” Polksy said. “And I think that’s the position you’ve put us in.”

Polsky ultimately voted in favor of the bill.

Powell challenged Rodriguez’s contention that socialism and communism were the same.

Rodriguez responded that “socialism opens the door to communism.”

Polsky then offered, “I think Denmark would take offense to say that socialism leads to communism, which leads to totalitarianism, which leads to many victims.”

At the requests of Polsky, Powell, and Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa, Rodriguez allowed for the prospect that she might expand the language in the bill to clarify that people brutalized under other forms of government might also be recognized, in addition to those under communism.

But Rodriguez stood firm on the title, and the bill’s emphasis on communism, saying “communism is the much broader term that would capture all these other types of oppression governments.”

She was strongly supported in that stand by Republican Sens. Ileana Garcia of Miami, Travis Hutson of Palm Coast, and Dennis Baxley of Lady Lake.

“I think what you are saying, with all due respect Senator, is your interpretation,” Rodriguez told Polsky after the Democrat argued that communism isn’t inherently violent, but governments using communism are. “But as a victim of communism myself, and many of us who are in this Legislature, we would argue that it is very violent and very oppressive. And I think communism is the appropriate word.”

“Doesn’t communism just mean sharing of wealth?” Polsky followed up. “Isn’t that the definition of an economic system?”

“It’s actually sharing poverty, not really sharing wealth,” Rodriguez replied. “That’s the textbook definition of communism. But in reality it is complete opposite. Again, subject to interpretation. But we’ve lived it.”

The bill’s next stop is the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

The House counterpart (HB 1553) comes from Sweetwater Republican David Borrero.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


  • Marion

    March 16, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Of course those of Polsky’s tribe would want to take the heat off of their oppressive and destructive religion that is communism.

  • Marion

    March 16, 2021 at 5:20 pm

    It is no surprise that Polsky and her tribe members would want to divert attention away from their religion of communism.

  • Margaret S Chrisawn

    March 16, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    Well, here we have Marion who is so fond of her vicious, ignorant, and blatantly anti-Semitic remark that she has submitted two versions of it.

    I would suggest she couldn’t adequately define “communism” is her bigoted little life depended on it, much less differentiate among communism, socialism, fascism, and authoritarianism.

    But to refer to Senator Polsky’s “tribe” is beyond any pale of decency.

  • Ron Ogden

    March 17, 2021 at 5:39 am

    If Rep. Polsky believes this bill is an incomplete expression of the will of the people of Florida in relation to totalitarianism, she should offer her own bill or an amendment to broaden the scope. But she didn’t. Alternative headline: “Democrats miss opportunity to condemn Nazism.” You see, it is all just rhetoric.

  • Sonja Fitch

    March 17, 2021 at 6:36 am

    See these folks are just wasting time and tax dollars! Damn y’all! Our service economy is busted! Our folks are hungry! Our folks do not have health care! The old rich white folks are “getting” the help by buying it from Duffus Desantis! Get out all of you political hacks.

  • trump lost

    March 17, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Rodriguez is speaking from a position of emotion and ignorance. Polsky is correct; communism is an economic political philosophy. Rodriguez is wrong; communism is not synonymous with socialism or fascism.

    Somebody needs to tell Rodriguez to put away her political posturing and educate herself; Black’s Law dictionary has an accepted definition that is probably a good place to start.

    What ever happened to freedom of choice and speech? I guess there are limits to those freedoms in the eyes of some.

    We have more important things to deal with then this drivel.

  • Bob

    March 17, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Denmark takes offense that you idiot dems keep calling them socialists.

Comments are closed.


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