Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s path to Congress is unlike many others. Representing the 18th congressional district of Florida, she has been one of Congress’ leading voices for democracy and human rights for nearly two decades, and as a political refugee herself from Cuba, it’s fitting that she now chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Born in communist Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen fled the regime with her parents when she was only eight years old and together they successfully made their way to America. After graduating college, she became a teacher before eventually entering politics. Her story is unusual, but as she explains, also classically American:
“It’s pretty incredible,” she says about her story, “and it says a lot—not about Ileana Ros-Lehtinen—it says a lot about the United States of America. That a refugee child could have come here at the age of eight and rise not only to become a member of Congress, but the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. … No matter where you are from, not matter what your background is, no matter what your socioeconomic status is, every person can achieve his or her dreams. Because this is the land of opportunity—it really is.
When asked why we ought to concern ourselves with the affairs of Latin America when our own country is in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions in recent history, Chairman Ros-Lehtinen correctly asserted that a freer, more stable and more prosperous Latin America is in an investment for peace and security in our Western Hemisphere.
“In the end it’s a good investment for America to be involved in helping people get democratic governance—not to take over their country—but to help people be free. And that is an investment that will pay off in the future.”
Don’t miss this interview with a truly remarkable and tireless advocate for freedom and liberty in our own country, the western hemisphere and around the world.