Virginia lawmaker Jason Miyares receives raucous applause after calling out governor’s Cuba outreach

This is a must-see speech by Jason Miyares, a Cuban American lawmaker in Virginia’s House of Delegates taking Gov. Terry McAuliffe to task for his “Cuba Outreach” policy that completely ignores the island’s dissidents and embraces the apartheid Castro regime.

The Washington Post has more:

Richmond notebook: Rapt silence, then applause for a lawmaker with a critique of McAuliffe’s Cuba outreach

Virginia’s House of Delegates is a noisy place. It runs on pomp and arcane rules, as befits a body that starts every day with the be-gloved installation of a ceremonial mace, but the members can be rowdy. They cut deals in the back of the room, summon pages for trays of food and murmur “rrrurrrrrllll” every time someone says the word “rural” in a floor speech.

But Wednesday brought an unusual silence to the chamber. Del. Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) stood to make what seemed like routine observations about a press release issued by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) the day before.

McAuliffe announced a bipartisan task force called Engage Cuba, convened to build economic ties with the island after relations were re-established by former President Barack Obama. Miyares, whose mother fled the Castro regime, was not a fan. As his words grew more emotional, his colleagues began to pay more attention.

“What separates us from Cuba and from many other countries in the world is what I call the knock on the door,” Miyares said, then leaned forward and rapped seven times on his desk. It was a sound that’s usually only heard when the Speaker of the House raps his gavel. Delegates are programmed to respond to that sound.

“Here, when we hear that, that means a neighbor has come over to say hello,” he said. “But in Cuba, when you hear this,” and he leaned forward and rapped again, “it means something entirely different.”

Now the place was utterly silent.

Miyares told of how his uncle heard that sound and was hauled out of his house and subjected to a mock execution, because “he didn’t want to join the communist militia.” His cousin, he said, bore scars on his wrists from being in a “Castro gulag.”

People living under that oppression feel “a profound sense of hopelessness that they have been forgotten,” he said. And while “what the governor wants obviously is to engage in business,” he failed to acknowledge human rights abuses, Miyares said.

Growing angrier, the delegate held up photos of people he said were political prisoners, including one woman who had her hand chopped off “because she spoke out against the government shutting down the only school in her locality.”

There was no mention of such things in the press release, he said. Noting that McAuliffe holds the same seat that Thomas Jefferson once held, he invoked Jefferson’s words from the Declaration of Independence about all men being created equal.

“Surely this governor can take the time to advocate for those same timeless principles to the Castro regime today,” Miyares said.

As he finished, the House erupted in applause. Republican members stood, Democrats did not. One Republican staffer noted that Democrats had chastised Republicans for failing to stand when another delegate defended civil rights icon John Lewis against dismissive language from President Trump, and suggested that Democrats now were showing a lack of respect for human rights.

Most Democrats were clapping, though. Which perhaps raised the question of whether they were sending their own signal to the governor.

Brian Coy, the governor’s spokesman, did not address why there was no mention of Cuba’s human rights record in the press release. But he said McAuliffe wants to connect with Cuba to help Virginia’s economy.

“Gov. McAuliffe disagrees with Del. Miyares, as well as President Trump, that building walls around America is the best way to make life better for our families,” Coy said via email. “The Governor is working every day to create new jobs and economic activity for Virginians.”

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1 thought on “Virginia lawmaker Jason Miyares receives raucous applause after calling out governor’s Cuba outreach”

  1. The most beautiful part of this video is how a guy behind him is talking and a woman is on the internet, yet his impassioned, just and right speech turns them into listeners.

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