Bill de Blasio may have an impressive understanding of Spanish. Unfortunately, his knowledge of history is not quite as vast, say critics who have blasted the New York mayor for quoting Communist firebrand Che Guevara, per The Miami Herald.
Though Che Guevara has been romanticized in far left circles, many Cuban-Americans still view the man as a mass-murderer. He was one of Fidel Castro’s most prominent supporters, generally considered his second-in-command, and was tasked with overseeing the euphemistically titled revolutionary justice against those with whom the Castro regime deemed to be traitors.
Many exiled Cubans, including Cuban-Americans, still refer to him as the “Butcher of La Cabaña,” per The HuffPost. La Cabaña was the prison which Guevara oversaw as part of his command.
Mayor de Blasio made the gaffe while at a rally where airport workers were under strike due to poor working conditions and low pay. After de Blasio urged the crowd of 100-strong to unionize, he finished with the phrase “Hasta la victoria, siempre.” The sentence translates to “Ever on to victory!”
“Hasta la victoria, siempre” was Guevara’s personal motto, and has been used in monuments to the former Cuban lieutenant. It was also used by Raul Castro upon announcing that his brother, Fidel, had died.
“Hasta la victoria siempre...”— liz roldan (@lizroldancbs4) June 27, 2019
Says Bill De Blasio in *Miami* pic.twitter.com/fAc2Wds5YD
Many Floridians quickly voiced their disgust at quoting the controversial figure, especially since Miami is known for its large Cuban community that fled Castro and Guevara.
“Quoting a murderer responsible for death & oppression in communist Cuba and throughout Latin America is not acceptable. Please apologize,” said Jose Javier Rodríguez, a Cuban state senator who had also spoken at the event.
Other politicians, such as State Sen. Annette Taddeo and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, also were open in their anger and disappointment. The Miami-Dade Democratic Party even demanded an apology.
Mayor de Blasio, who was still in the sunshine state after Monday’s first Democratic debate, quickly made an apology on Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.
“I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike.”
The New Yorker added another apology later on, as criticism only continued to grow.
“I thought it was a generic, Spanish-language phrase that fit the occasion,” he said.