MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The protests in support of Cuba have quieted down. But what they stand for is still a topic of discussion in South Florida.
On Thursday, local elected leaders met with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban exile himself, to discuss how to keep the fight for freedom alive on the island.
"There is no one better that he could have sent who could understand because his family lived it than Secretary Mayorkas," said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schutlz.
Mayorkas tweeted about his visit, saying, "The Biden administration stands in solidarity with the Cuban people and their call for freedom. I join @potus in our commitment to holding the Cuban regime accountable, supporting the Cuban people, and ensuring Cuban Americans remain a vital partner in our efforts."
He posted a photo fist-bumping Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who admits he was surprised his point of view was welcome at the meeting.
"I appreciate the fact that despite that they knew my perspective I was still invited and that's what makes this country so great and it's very different from Cuba and what's happening right now," Suarez said.
Suarez presented a letter to Secretary Mayorkas on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, urging strong American leadership in the Caribbean on behalf of Cubans and Haitians.
"This issue screams for presidential leadership. As I've said in the past, we would welcome the president coming down here to make a speech similar to Ronald Reagan when he said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.' We need to exercise and express the moral authority of this country that's been a beacon of freedom since its existence," Suarez said.
"The message was very clear today. This is a nonpartisan issue. People in the room were all speaking of the importance of showing solidarity and giving hope to the people of Cuba, so that this July 11th continues to be fueled with support from those of us in the United States," said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. "Snd there is no place more supportive than right here in Miami-Dade County."
Artists including Emilio Estefan and Yotuel, one of the singers behind the song "Patria y Vida," were also there.
Wasserman Schultz said some at the meeting want more engagement while others want more sanctions against Cuba. She said the homeland security secretary was open to hearing different perspectives.
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