Miami Democrats slammed New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill de Blasio on Thursday after he quoted Cuban-Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara during a rally at Miami International Airport. De Blasio apologized later in the day on Twitter.
After participating in Wednesday night's presidential debate, de Blasio met with union workers who were protesting poor working conditions and wages, telling them they should unionize. He then said, "The eyes of the world are on this airport, the eyes of the world are on Miami-Dade."
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Near the end of his speech, he repeated one of Guevara's most notable quotes, "Hasta la victoria siempre!" which translates roughly to "Ever on to victory!" In addition to being one of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s top lieutenants, he is considered a sociopath by some of the Cuban exiles in Miami, according to the Miami Herald.
He apologized Thursday evening, saying he did not know the phrase "was associated with Che Guevara" and didn't mean to "offend anyone."
I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike- BdB. (2/2)
— Bill de Blasio (@BilldeBlasio) June 27, 2019
Politico reporter Marc Caputo initially noted on Twitter how de Blasio isn't helping Democrats who are trying to distance themselves from the Republican branding of being radical.
The GOP wants to cast Democrats as radical Socialists during the Miami prez debates
— Marc Caputo (@MarcACaputo) June 27, 2019
While the crowd cheered after de Blasio's quote, Miami Democrats were quick to criticize him for being insensitive, asking him to apologize. Cuban state senator Jose Javier Rodríguez spoke at the rally, but didn't stay for de Blasio's speech. When he learned about the quote, he tweeted for de Blasio to apologize.
"Quoting a murderer responsible for death & oppression in communist Cuba and throughout Latin America is not acceptable," Rodríguez said.
Christian Ulvert, a Nicaraguan political consultant based in Miami, said de Blasio's quote is "complete ignorance" and "beyond disrespectful." State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Colombian-American, was also outraged by the quote, saying it was "very disappointing," the Miami Herald reported.
"I have no idea if he knew [the quote was associated with Guevara]. But it’s very disappointing, clearly," she said. "This is the problem that we run into all the time… The left has people that are just clueless as hell."
Félix Rodríguez Mendigutia, a Bay of Pigs veteran who helped capture Guevara, told the Miami Herald that de Blasio is a "f****ing a**hole" if he knew who Guevara was and still quoted him.
Updated 7:18 p.m.: This has been updated with de Blasio's apology.