With the bill’s sponsor saying polls show half of the upcoming generation would vote for a socialist, and one in five for a communist, the full House unanimously voted Thursday to require that students learn about victims of communism.
Republican Rep. David Borrero of Sweetwater sponsored the bill (HB 395) creating a “Victims of Communism Day,” which would have the Governor declare a special observance on Nov. 7 every year. That is the anniversary of the day in 1917 that Vladimir Lenin led his forces into the Russian capital to overthrow the Russian government.
The bill also calls for students in high school government class to get 45 minutes of instruction about history’s totalitarian dictators who have killed millions and oppressed billions “through false promises of equality and liberation or through coercion, brutality and fear.”
The bill won the praise of Democratic Co-Leader Evan Jenne of Dania Beach.
“I think everyone in this room understands that communism is an evil and insidious form of government akin to fascism, akin to Nazism, and deserves no safe haven in the state of Florida,” Jenne said.
Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Russia’s Lenin and Joseph Stalin, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Cambodia’s Pol Pot and China’s Mao Zedong are the figures mentioned in the legislation that aims to ensure students learn “how victims suffered under these regimes through suppression of speech, poverty, starvation, migration and systemic lethal violence.”
Borrero invoked the experiences of Russia, China and Cuba on the House floor.
“I was looking at photographs yesterday comparing old Cuba before 1959 to the current Cuba,” Borrero said. “Cuba is now a relic of the past … as if a bomb was dropped on that island nation.”
Borrero explained why the bill was needed by invoking President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, Borrero said, observed that the philosophy of the schoolhouse for one generation is the next generation’s philosophy of government.
“It gives honor to over 100 million people that have died from these failed economic policies,” he said of the lessons and observance the bill would require. “And it also gives hope to this generation and the next generation that America will never be a communist country.”
Hialeah Republican Rep. Alex Rizo, the bill’s co-sponsor, urged the chamber to send a message.
“I hope we can tell Florida and the world how strongly we stand and how united we are in the right of free people to live free, that all people should be free and not under the oppressive yoke of communism and its evil thought.”