During a House committee hearing about U.S.-Cuba relations, Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) ousted Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) for allegedly disseminating “communist propaganda.”
The incident occurred at a meeting of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Lee is not a member. Lee attended the hearing to discuss restoring ties between the United States and Cuba.
“I was just kicked out of a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Cuba policy because the Republican Chair didn’t like my views,” Lee posted on social media. “I’d share the livestream, but Republicans cut out the sound when I stood up to defend myself & call them out.”
Salazar, a former journalist who advocates for Cuba to remain on America’s list of countries sponsoring terrorism, responded to the incident.
“Today, I exercised my authority as Subcommittee Chairwoman to not allow an off-Committee Member to spread communist propaganda during my Cuba hearing,” Salazar wrote. “Members are not entitled to join any Committee proceedings without full consent of the Committee Members.”
Salazar, born in Miami to Cuban parents who fled after Fidel Castro’s rise to power, accused Lee of being a longtime sympathizer of the Cuban regime.
“Barbara Lee tried to disrupt an important discussion about the Biden Administration’s lenient policies toward the Cuban regime,” Salazar said. “Barbara Lee is a communist sympathizer who was a personal friend to Fidel Castro, has visited Cuba 21 times, and has been a mouthpiece for the Cuban Regime since 1977.”
Lee, speaking on Roland Martin’s digital show, clarified the protocol for speaking at a committee hearing as a nonmember. She stated that it involves requesting a waiver, which Salazar did not grant.
“She’s trying to silence me,” Lee said. “And what her move was today demonstrated that she really doesn’t believe in democracy. She believes in only her point of view; she does not believe in the inclusion of different points of views when we talk about Cuban policy.”
For years, Lee has worked toward normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations, advocating for lifting the embargo on the Caribbean island. She is currently working on legislation to support Cuba’s emerging private sector. In November, the United Nations General Assembly called for the 31st time to end the Cuba embargo, with only the U.S. and Israel opposing.
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