Home to over one million Cuban, Venezuelan, and Nicaraguan ex-pats, Miami is truly one of the most unique places in America.
Following Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) praising aspects of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's regime during a "60 Minutes" interview over the weekend, Miami's Republican Mayor Francis Suarez announced on Monday the city would host America's first-ever "anti-communism concert" on April 11 at the James L. Knight Center.
In an interview with TheBlaze, Mayor Suarez explained Miami is the perfect location to host an event that denounces communism.
"Our city represents the stories of countless individuals who have risked their lives to flee communism," he said. "There's no better way to celebrate than through music, at the first concert of its kind in the United States. And there's better place to host it than here in Miami."
Suarez, who was named in November among Time magazine's 100 most influential people in America, added: "Whether from Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua, each and every life that has fled communism has proven how the will to pursue democracy and freedom, even in the face of oppression, can never be suppressed or silenced."
Few understand communism’s plight more than #Miami’s Cuban-exile community. @BernieSanders’ glorification of social… https://t.co/j9mLKIUWpx— Mayor Francis Suarez (@Mayor Francis Suarez)1582549805.0
Sanders: It's 'unfair to say that everything is bad' under communism
Though organizers had been planning the concert for weeks, its announcement coincides with the presidential candidate declaring on Sunday that certain aspects of Cuba's totalitarian regime were redeemable.
"We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba," Sanders told 60 Minutes and CNN reporter Anderson Cooper before pivoting to defending Castro. "But it's unfair to say that everything is bad."
The self-described democratic socialist then parroted talking points attributed to the country's communist government: "When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?"
Mayor Suarez blasted Sanders' comments in a tweet early Monday morning, saying, "Bernie Sanders' glorification of socialism omits Castro's forceful imposition of power attacking human rights and freedom of speech, minimizing those who fought to break free from his suffocating hand."
It is not the first time that Sanders has come under fire for remarks praising communist dictators. The Vermont socialist has been criticized in the past for refusing to denounce Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro as a dictator and even defending Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega's violence against his own citizens by comparing it to Abraham Lincoln's actions during the Civil War.
'Enough is enough'
The show, which will feature legendary Cuban salsa music star Willy Chirino and other artists, is being celebrated by South Florida residents and conservative leaders who say America has to stop normalizing far-left ideologies.
"We cannot continue normalizing communism and socialism in America," Armando Ibarra, head of the Miami Young Republicans, told TheBlaze. "These are disgusting belief systems that have killed millions of people. Our community is sick and tired of watching media outlets offer platforms to degenerate Marxists like Bernie Sanders, AOC and other Democrat Party members to fetishize evil ideologies that, frankly, have no business in polite society. Enough is enough."
Cuban-American lobbyist Christian Camara said to TheBlaze that Miami's "anti-communism concert" is the city's way of pushing back against left-wing political extremism that some Democrats are trying to mainstream: "This concert is partially the result of the Democrat Party's effort to normalize socialism and a major American city that's home to millions of victims of that ideology saying 'full stop.' People are fed up."
Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a human rights non-profit that is organizing the event.