House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was jeered by anti-communist protesters at a campaign event in South Florida earlier this week.
The Miami Herald reported that Pelosi was stumping for two House Democratic candidates, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, at an event in Coral Gables when the protesters confronted her.
According to the Herald, Pelosi raised the ire of the Cuban American community in South Florida because the event originally was to include fellow California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who had praised former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro following his death in late November 2016. Lee has also voted against sanctioning Venezuela’s socialist dictatorial regime.
At the time of Castro’s death, the Oakland Democrat told The San Jose Mercury Times that “we need to stop and pause and mourn his loss” and that she was “very sad for the Cuban people.”
“He led a revolution in Cuba that led social improvements for his people,” Lee said of Castro.
The congresswoman also chastised then President-elect Donald Trump for seeming to celebrate the death of the brutal dictator in a brief tweet, “Fidel Castro is dead!”
“It’s not presidential at all,” Lee contended.
With controversy regarding her planned attendance at the event building, the lawmaker bowed out, opting to campaign in neighboring Georgia instead.
Politico reported that about 57 percent of the district’s voters where Shalala is running to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are Hispanic, the bulk of whom are Cuban-American.
“In addition to Cuban exiles, the district also has Venezuelans who despise dictator Nicolas Maduro’s regime and immigrants from Nicaragua, many of whom oppose socialist Daniel Ortega,” the news outlet added.
A group of about 40 protesters spotted Pelosi at the Wednesday event and began yelling at her.
Warning: The video below includes foul language that may be offensive to some viewers.
A man in a video of the encounter can be heard saying to the minority leader (seen in a white pantsuit), “Look at Nancy Pelosi, right here. Look at this piece of sh– Pelosi, right here.”
Mob rushes Nancy Pelosi on her way into a campaign stop calling her a "F**king communist!"
Security had to hold back the anti-communism protesters as a frightened Pelosi was rushed into a doorway.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 19, 2018
“You don’t belong here you f—ing communist,” he yelled. Others not seen in the video called out, “communista.”
Some then banged on a door that Pelosi and others had just passed through, while protesters chanted “socialism sucks.”
Unlike Lee, the House minority leader did not offer praise for Castro upon his death. In fact, she issued a statement, saying, “Generations of Cuban political prisoners, democracy activists and families suffered under Fidel Castro’s rule.”
Shalala told local CBS News affiliate WFOR-TV that she does not agree with Lee regarding Castro either.
“Let me make it clear, not every member of Congress that comes down here do we agree with on every issue. But particularly on the Cuban issue or Nicaraguan issue, or the Venezuelan issue, this time we want to make our positions clear. We are not socialists, we are not communist, and we want nothing to do with those people,” she said.
When asked about the protests, Miami-Dade County GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz argued the Democrat event planners were clearly out of touch with local sentiment.
“There are still Cubans in the congressional district who hate Fidel Castro and they don’t like someone praising Fidel Castro,” he told Politico.
“The problem for Shalala — and I’m not personally accusing her of being a socialist or a communist — is it reinforces our narrative that Donna isn’t from here,” Diaz added. “She doesn’t understand the community. She has no real roots. The Democrats were so clueless that they didn’t shut this down instantly. It’s crazy.”
A Mason-Dixon poll published last week shows Shalala trailing GOP rival Spanish-language TV newswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, 44 to 42 percent.
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