Bay Ridge

Malliotakis: Death of Castro marks new beginning

Assembly member calls leader ‘a tyrant, dictator and murderer’

November 28, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
An image of the late Fidel Castro stands on a chair in a government building in Havana on Sunday, Nov. 27. Cuba is observing nine days of mourning for the former president who ruled Cuba for half a century. AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
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The death of Fidel Castro marks a new beginning for the people of Cuba, according to Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, a lawmaker who has a personal connection to the Caribbean island nation.

Malliotakis is the daughter of a Cuban refugee. Her mother, Vera, fled Cuba in the 1950s.

Castro died on Nov. 25 at the age of 90.

Malliotakis, who paid a memorable visit to Cuba with her mother in 2009, didn’t hold back when expressing her point of view.

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“A tyrant, dictator and murderer who destroyed millions of lives is finally gone. Today marks a new beginning for the Cuban people who have suffered under an oppressive dictatorship for nearly six decades. It is my hope that the end of Fidel Castro will soon mean freedom, liberty and free elections for my family and all Cuban people. Viva Cuba Libre!” Malliotakis said in a statement.

In a 2015 interview with the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Malliotakis recalled her reaction to what she saw in Cuba during her visit there seven years ago.

“It was my first visit there and my mother’s first time back. It was heartbreaking to see how the Cubans live,” she told the Eagle. “The country pays its people $10 a month. People don’t even have access to aspirin.”

In a poignant tweet on Friday, Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) wrote of Castro’s death, “It’s a day I wished my grandmother lived to see.”

Malliotakis, whose father George is a Greek-American, said the immigrant experience of both of her parents informed her view of the world. “My dad comes from the birthplace of democracy. My mom came from a place where democracy was crushed,” she said.

She also credits her mother’s experience as a Cuban refugee for forming her political views as a Republican. “It’s the reason I’m anti-Communist and anti-Socialist,” she said.

Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump’s statement on Castro’s death also expressed the hope that Cuba can now begin to turn a corner.

“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve,” Trump stated.

Trump vowed that under his administration, the U.S. will assist Cuba to make the move toward democracy.

“Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty,” Trump stated.

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