WOODINVILLE, Wash.—A Cuban immigrant and entrepreneur described communism as a “venom” that would kill American society. His comments came after members of the Seattle City Council encouraged the Biden administration to strengthen ties with communist Cuba.
Julio Ortiz, 46, is the owner of the Twisted Cuban Cafe & Bar. He immigrated to the United States when he was 24 to escape the future, or lack thereof, under the restrictive communist regime in Cuba.
“It obligated me to leave Cuba, to leave the country. So my culture, my mom, my dad, my family, and all the ideas and expectations and the future that I had planned up [were all left behind]. What future? There’s no future in Cuba. And that’s the reason why I left,” Ortiz told The Epoch Times.
He has authored an autobiography, “Escape From Cuba,” to tell his children and the world his story of living under a communist regime.
Ortiz now lives in Woodinville, a famous wine country in Washington just outside Seattle. He’s a self-made business owner, author, and art collector. His restaurant has a vibrant atmosphere with cheerful music and colorful Cuban paintings.
Before he left Cuba, he worked as a registered nurse. He originally was on track to become a doctor, but his dream was dashed when the Cuban communist regime decided they had enough doctors.
“They don’t care about your rights, they don’t care about your freedom of speech, they don’t care about absolutely [anything],” he said. “And that’s the reason why I got out. They select who they want, whom they want to [allow] to go to school or not.”
With his medical background, Ortiz gave his insight on communism.
“I compared [it] to COVID-19,” Ortiz said. “I prefer to deal with the COVID-19 virus, even though it’s killing a lot of people, but it’s killing them fast. The communism kills people slowly; they kill your ideas, they kill your mentality. They kill your rights, they kill you, mentally, physically, energetically, until they could squeeze everything out of you.”
Ortiz shared his perspective on what communism would mean for the United States.
“I think promoting Cuban communism in this country, not just Seattle, just in this country in general, it is just a way to kill our society,” he said.
Ortiz’s comments came after two Seattle councilmembers voiced support for Cuban communism.
Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda recently retweeted a post with a picture of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, saying the Seattle city council seeks “medical, academic and pharmaceutical assistance” from Cuba, and urges the Biden administration to remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list.
Nine days before President Joe Biden took office, the Trump administration labeled Cuba as a state sponsor of terror for international terrorism and subversion of U.S. justice. This action reversed the Obama-era decision from 2015 to improve relations with the communist nation.
In January this year, Mosqueda joined Seattle city Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a member of the self-proclaimed Marxist organization Socialist Alternative, and passed a resolution calling for collaboration between the United States and Cuba. They were the earliest voices on the council calling to defund the Seattle Police Department by 50 percent, and they pushed the council to pass large payroll taxes on big businesses.
The resolution urges the new administration to take Cuba off the terrorist list, and it advocates for restoring full diplomatic relations with the country.
Communism “destroyed my family, it destroyed all my opportunities—in education, physically, mentally, psychologically. It destroyed everything, as it still destroys a lot of people in Cuba right now,” Ortiz said.
Despite the damage inflicted on his family and life, Ortiz lives by the simple motto “Never had a bad day in my life.”
That’s also the slogan of his cigar club, a symbol of his new life here in the United States.
He said he hasn’t been back to Cuba since publishing his book and knows trouble may await him there. Nonetheless, he won’t shy away from the truth.
“It’s my life, and I’d prefer to die instead of hiding it,” he said.