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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Joe Garcia Not Big on Communism

Rep. Joe Garcia is no advocate for communism, but a Spanish-language TV ad takes a comment from Garcia out of context to make it appear that way.

The ad shows footage of Garcia, a Florida Democrat, saying that “we’ve proved that communism works” during a Google chat session about immigration. “If you give everybody a good government job, there’s no crime,” Garcia says in the ad.

However, Garcia’s full remarks show that he was actually taking a dig at Republicans for creating more government jobs by spending heavily on border security. Garcia can even be heard laughing as he makes the comment about communism leading to no crime.

The ad, from the conservative Hispanic group LIBRE Initiative, is part of a multimedia campaign, including TV and Web ads, that will air through the first three weeks of June.

The video ends with a viral clip of Garcia appearing to eat his own ear wax as the ad’s narrator says: “Call Congressman Garcia. Tell him to put his lunch aside and listen to the voice of the people. Communism doesn’t work.”

But here’s what Garcia actually said about the GOP’s approach to immigration:

Garcia, May 20: Two of the safest cities in America, two of them are on the border with Mexico. And, of course, the reason is we’ve proved that communism works. If you give everybody a good government job, there’s no crime. But that isn’t what we should be doing on the border. The kind of money we’ve poured into it, and we’re having diminishing returns. So while we’re doing — we’re spending all of this money here, we have border problems in Puerto Rico. Where we haven’t been able to set up a system that’s safe there. People are finding alternative routes. The opportunity to get this right and the mistake that Republicans make — and I say Republicans because it’s Republicans right now — I’m no one to say that Democrats were also possessed by xenophobia in 2008, and particularly after 9/11 and the economic crisis, but today we’re in a much better place as a party. And the problem that Republicans have is that they’re fighting a battle they cannot win.

Clearly, Garcia, in arguing against the U.S. border control strategy, was joking that “communism works” because it results in more government jobs and safer cities.

In fact, Garcia long has been an advocate for human rights in Communist nations such as Cuba. He was the executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, which works to “bring freedom and democracy to the Cuban people,” according to the group’s mission statement. And though he was once a supporter of the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, Garcia features an Associated Press article on his congressional website that says he now believes that U.S. policy “hurts Cuban citizens and dissidents in particular.”

In response to criticism for his remark that “communism works,” Garcia told a Miami Herald reporter, “This is an absurdity, accusing the son of Cuban immigrants of believing in communism is just ridiculous.”

A day after the Google chat session, Garcia said in a May 21 interview with South Florida’s NBC 6 that he doesn’t believe that communism works. “Clearly I know that this is a system of government that is evil,” Garcia told the news station.

This isn’t the first time that the LIBRE Initiative has targeted Garcia. Earlier in the year, the group, which is run by Daniel Garza, a former aide to President George W. Bush, ran ads against Garcia for supporting the Affordable Care Act.

Garcia, who represents the state’s 26th Congressional District, is set to take on the winner of the Aug. 26 GOP primary, which features five contenders, including former Rep. David Rivera, who defeated Garcia in 2010 and then lost to Garcia in a rematch in 2012.

— D’Angelo Gore