Gov. DeSantis signs legislation mandating ‘Victims of Communism Day’ and required education

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The Governor wants to make Che Guevara T-shirts less fashionable.

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.

“Every American student should learn about the horrors of communism. This evil ideology impacted my family, my community, and left 100 million dead in its wake. I hope more Governors bring similar legislation to their states,” said Armando Ibarra, one of the chief proponents of the legislation and president of the Miami Young Republicans.

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.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


4 comments

  • Becca

    May 9, 2022 at 3:26 pm

    “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.” ~ Ernesto Che Guevara

  • David Martin

    May 10, 2022 at 11:20 am

    Guevara’s image is by now in a category with Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe but without trademark status. While I mostly detest Communists (Slovak family), the official anticommunist education/propaganda of the 50s and 60s didn’t seem to do much good. News coverage of brutalities of the new Castro regime likely did.

  • Karen

    May 10, 2022 at 1:12 pm

    Due to the financial scandals that benefit Wall St and that were remedied by passing the bill to the general public via “austerity measures” and the profit-driven healthcare practiced throughout this country, will there be a Victims of Capitalism day to commemorate all the victims of capitalism?

  • Ken

    May 10, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    We should require teaching about the cost of propping up the US military industrial complex. I know the combined Presidents of the last century didn’t waste as many lives as Stalin or Mao, but maybe teaching our children about the lies our government has used to justify foreign wars will prevent future deaths.

Comments are closed.


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