Cuban dissidents confront ambassador in restaurant in Tampa, Florida

(CNN) — A group of Cuban dissidents broke into a dinner of the Cuban ambassador to the United States, Lianys Torres Rivera, with local politicians and business leaders, at a luxury French restaurant in Tampa, Florida, last Friday night.

Roberto Pizano, 84, has lived in exile in the United States for more than 40 years. He was a political prisoner in Cuba for 18 years and was released in the late 1970s under an agreement between Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro.

Pizano was in the restaurant with his son Rafael and two other Cubans when he confronted Ambassador Torres and the group that accompanied her. Rafael Pizano told CNN that an informant alerted the group that a high-level Cuban official would be dining at the elegant restaurant on Friday night, but he said he did not know it would be Ambassador Torres.

“It was shocking to walk in there and realize that the face, the spokeswoman, the representative of the ambassador of this communist regime is here in our hometown of Tampa,” Rafael Pizano said. “And Florida and the city of Tampa are home to one of the largest exile communities in the United States, if not the world, for Cubans.”

When they arrived, Rafael Pizano recorded the exchange on his cell phone, which lasted about 12 minutes. During the meeting, the group chanted anti-communist chants, questioned Torres about human rights abuses in Cuba and the purpose of his meeting with local officials more than 1,400 kilometers away from the Cuban embassy in Washington.

“My family suffers and goes hungry in Cuba, and they imprisoned all our youth in Cuba. That is what a communist regime does. You bring a communist ambassador here for a good meal, a good dinner. Do you eat a fancy dinner while my family in Cuba has no food?” Rafael Pizano is heard shouting in the video. “Ambassador, show your face for the camera, please. Show your face because our families suffer. Show your face ”, he said in Spanish.

Thousands of Cuban political prisoners were released in 1978. Roberto Pizano was one of them, still bearing scars on his body from his attempts to overthrow Fidel Castro and prevent Cuba from falling into communism. As an exile, he traveled to Geneva to testify before the United Nations about human rights abuses on the island.

At 21, Pizano was a sergeant in the Cuban Army under President Fulgencio Batista. When Batista was overthrown, Pizano said he carried out a guerrilla war against Castro’s troops, but he was ultimately captured and sent to an island prison. For 18 years, he was tortured, starved and forced to work, Pizano said.

“I had the opportunity to destroy the lies that for more than 64 years these people have told the United States and the world. Cuba is a horrible country today,” Pizano told CNN about the meeting.

Torres did not respond to the group and kept his back turned throughout the incident as restaurant staff tried to lead the group out of the establishment.

CNN has reached out to the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC by phone and email for comment, but has not yet received a response.

CNN also contacted three local elected officials recognized in the video.

Guido Maniscalco, a Tampa city councilman, responded, denying that he was on the video, but acknowledged that he had been with the group before the encounter. The other two elected officials have not responded.

US Senator Rick Scott from Florida wrote on Twitter: “I’m furious that the ‘ambassador’ for Cuba’s illegitimate communist regime was in Tampa. The evil she represents will never be welcomed in Florida.”

The confrontation comes as hundreds of Cubans remain detained on the island, following nationwide protests on July 11, 2021. CNN previously reported that protesters demanded freedom and criticized the government, in the country led by the Cuban Communist Party. which prohibits political opposition.

Rafael Pizano told CNN’s Isabel Rosales that during the meeting he shouted: “You know what is happening in Cuba, but you represent them and you come to eat here and our family doesn’t have to eat.”

He explained that eggs are still rationed in Cuba, saying that “they give you I think half a dozen eggs a month on a card [de racionamiento], but she’s dining at the best dining establishments here in Tampa. It is an insult”.

“Who are they to come to a free country where we practice democracy and believe in social justice and tell us that we can’t tell them anything?” Rafael Pizano said. “This is a free country, this is not communist Cuba where they can hit us with a stick, put us in the back of a police car and take us to jail. Here we have the right to express our opinion and we did so.

Source link

Elton Gardner

Elton Gardner is a seasoned writer and editor for He is a graduate of a prestigious journalism school and has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines. Elton is an expert in various fields, including sports, entertainment, and technology. He is widely respected for his insights and engaging writing style. As an editor, Elton oversees a team of writers and ensures the website stays current with the latest trends and breaking news. His writing is characterized by its depth, clarity, and accessibility. Elton's spare time is spent with his family, playing sports, reading, and traveling to explore new cultures. With his talent, experience, and dedication, Elton Gardner is a prominent figure in online media and will continue to make waves in the years to come.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button