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The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs operation.
On April 17, 1961, the anticommunist patriots of Brigade 2506 were determined to help their homeland and their loved ones who were living under a repressive regime. Even though the operation was not successful, the dedication and the commitment that these brave individuals illustrated during the conflict was exceptional. During the operation, one hero was asked if he wished to be evacuated, and he said, ``I will never leave this country.'' These individuals showed a strong sense of heroism as they were up against the repressive regime's armed forces.
President Ronald Reagan was a longstanding supporter of individuals taking action to free themselves from oppressive socialist and communist regimes. When referring to the Bay of Pigs, President Reagan stated, ``By supporting courageous freedom fighters around the world, we're shining a light on the path out from communism.''
These heroes reached the beaches of Playa Giron to fight against communism in Cuba that was being supported by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The evil empire made a strong push into Cuba that became a national security threat to the United States.
A strong Soviet Union presence in Cuba led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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As the spread of communism crumbled during the Cold War, democracies throughout the Western Hemisphere flourished in open societies. However, the United States must remain vigilant that history does not repeat itself.
At this moment, Russia is currently infiltrating the Western Hemisphere by joining forces with antidemocratic tyrants such as Chavez, Ortega, and Morales. Recently, reports have indicated that Russia has sold $15 billion worth of weapons and military equipment to Chavez. In addition, senior Russian military officials have mentioned the possibility of establishing refueling bases for Russian bombers in Cuba. Russian activities in the Western Hemisphere raise serious concerns as they are arming rogue regimes that are counter to the interests and the security of our beloved Nation.
The veterans of the Bay of Pigs symbolized this struggle between communism and freedom. The brave Brigade 2506 patriots decided to risk their very lives in order to liberate an oppressed society. These men fought courageously on that historic day. They came from many backgrounds, but all of them cared about freedom and liberty for the people of Cuba.
Even though the Bay of Pigs operation was not successful, their call to serve rose again to protect our Nation from enemies abroad. Many of these veterans continued to serve the United States by joining our Armed Forces and fighting with honor during the Vietnam War.
I would like to acknowledge all individuals who consistently are working toward fulfilling the dreams of a free Cuba, which is the dream of the veterans of Brigade 2506 who aspired and fought for a free and democratic Cuba.
I would also like to recognize the veterans of the Bay of Pigs who are with us today in the gallery. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your sacrifice and your commitment for a free Cuba and a strong United States.