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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Hudson Democrats charge Ciattarelli attempting to politicize Cuba protests

By Nikita Biryukov, July 13 2021 5:48 pm

A series of Democratic lawmakers with ties to the state’s Cuban community slammed GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli for an attack he leveraged at Gov. Phil Murphy over protests against the island nation’s government.

“After supporting the rhetoric and bigotry of the Trump administration, Assemblyman Ciattarelli is now attempting to use our vibrant Cuban community as a pawn for his own political purposes,” they said in a joint statement. “We wholeheartedly reject this opportunistic way of thinking, and won’t allow a politician with a self-serving agenda to weaponize the Cuban people’s suffering and drag us back to the days when our diverse communities were put into silos and left behind.

The lawmakers behind Tuesday’s rebuke include U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen), Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York), State Sens. Nick Sacco (D-North Bergen) and Brian Stack, Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-West New York) and Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (D-Secaucus).

Together, they represent some of the state’s largest Cuban American communities. Many emigrating from Cuba settled in Northern New Jersey in towns like Union City and West New York

They were also joined by West New York Mayor Gabe Rodriguez, Guttenberg Mayor Wayne Zitt and Hudson County Commissioner Anthony Vainieri.

Ciattarelli on Monday backed Cuban protestors engaged in widespread demonstrations against the nation’s government amid an economic downturn, stunning shortages of food and medicine, increasingly common power outages and suppressed internet connectivity.

Protestors have called for the resignation of President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who rose to the head of Cuba’s government in 2019 and whose responses to the outcry include calls for physical confrontation with demonstrators.

Ciattarelli wanted Murphy to join him in backing the protestors. The Democrats who issued Tuesday’s statement also supported the demonstrators, though they saw Ciattarelli’s endorsement as opportunism in action.

““Whether you are an American citizen from Cuba, or a newly arrived immigrant looking for a better life, New Jersey is a place where all 9.3 million residents can grow and prosper — New Jersey is the opportunity state,” they said. “Unfortunately, Republican Gubernatorial nominee Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is someone who views this diversity as a threat. Assemblyman Ciattarelli has run a campaign of division — division along urban or suburban lines, division across income lines, and division across racial and ethnic lines.”

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