New York City Mayor and Presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio decided to quote Che Guevara, the communist Cuban revolutionary who order the deaths of hundreds of his own countrymen. He quoted Guevara in Miami, a city with a large Cuban immigrant population.
What did he say?
On Thursday, de Blasio traveled to Miami and visted a rally held by some airport workers. He expressed his support for them, and told them that they should unionize.
De Blasio ended his speech by saying "¡Hasta la victoria, siempre!" a quote which means "Ever on to victory!"
This quote was a rallying cry for Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. Miami has a large population of Cuban-Americans, many of whom escaped the communist regime in Cuba that was set up, quite violently, by Guevara and Fidel Castro. Thanks to the so-called "wet-foot-dry-foot" policy (which was scrapped under former-President Barack Obama) Cuban refugees who were able to make it onto American soil were granted asylum. Hundreds of thousands took advantage of this policy.
While he was involved in the revolution, Guevara carried out hundreds of extra-judicial executions.
As might be expected, these former Cuban refugees and children of refugees are not fans of Guevara. Even members of his own party, like Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) called out de Blasio, saying that it was "unacceptable to quote a murderer like Che Guevara, especially in Miami, where so many people have suffered as a result of his brutality."
De Blasio later called this an "honest mistake" and said he "understood it just to be a Spanish-language phrase" that he used it "not knowning that was the origin."
He said he didn't know who he had quoted
On Twitter, de Blasio claimed that he had no idea where the quote came from. "I did not know the phrase I used in Miami today was associated with Che Guevara & I did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way. I certainly apologize for not understanding that history. I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike." He signed the tweets BdB to indicate that they came personally from him and not from his staff.
But at least some people were not convinced.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whose parents immigrated from Cuba, tweeted on Thursday evening "De Blasio studied Latin American politics in college,was a very active supporter of the Sandinistas in #Nicaragua & even honeymooned in #Cuba in violation of U.S. law. But he had NO IDEA he was quoting Che Guevara today. It was all just an incredible coincidence."