Signing legislation that requires students to learn about the suffering communism has caused, Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s acting to stamp out the ignorance that’s made Che Guevara T-shirts fashionable on college campuses.
The Governor was in Miami Monday morning to sign the measure (HB 395) requiring him and subsequent Governors to declare Nov. 7 “Victims of Communism Day.” In addition to the observance, the legislation requires all Florida students in government classes get at least 45 minutes of instruction on the “discredited ideology” DeSantis said is enjoying a rebirth in popularity.
“You can see on college campuses students flying the hammer and sickle from the old Soviet Union flag,” DeSantis said at a ceremony in Miami’s Freedom Tower, which was a gateway for many Cubans fleeing Fidel Castro’s Cuba. “You will see students that will have T-shirts with (Cuban revolutionary) Che Guevara on a T-shirt. … That, to me, speaks of a tremendous ignorance about what those individuals represented in the evils that communism inflicted on people throughout the world. And so our goal here is to stand for the truth.”
Nov. 7 was the anniversary of the day in 1917 when Vladimir Lenin stormed the Russian capital to overthrow the government, spreading a worldwide movement. It’s a movement DeSantis and successive speakers Monday said has caused suffering that should never be forgotten.
Miami-Dade College President Madeline Pumariega said the Legislature’s action would keep Guevara T-shirts off her campus.
“This bill is so important because what you don’t recognize and don’t learn about, you tend to repeat,” she said. “So, (we will be) always keeping front and center that there are victims of communism.”
The Governor said he hadn’t signed the budget yet, but he will make sure that $25 million goes to restore the Freedom Tower, so it becomes a landmark museum.
He also signed the street designation bill memorializing the contribution of three “brave Cubans” who fought against Cuba’s regime. They were Arturo Diaz, a Cuban exile who opened a Miami pharmacy and became a resource for many of his fellow community members; Maximino Capdevila, who founded a Tampa restaurant and served the Cuban community; and Oswaldo Payo, who, DeSantis said, was one of the first to oppose Castro’s regime.
Miami Sen. Manny Díaz, who will soon become the state’s Education Commissioner, lauded the action. He proclaimed DeSantis “freedom’s Governor” for his fight against what Díaz said was another form of communism: COVID-19 lockdowns. Díaz sponsored the “Victims of Communism” legislation in the Senate.
“It is our job to make sure … that the lessons stand for next generations so that they understand the value of freedom and the perils of communism,” Díaz said.
“And so I’m very lucky to not only have sponsored the bill with my colleagues in the House but also, hopefully, to have the opportunity to implement this bill and make sure that every one of our students that goes through a government class in the state of Florida will have a lesson on the perils and the evils of communism and that we will have a day every year to commemorate those victims.”