Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen admits call for Castro's assassination

Orlando Sentinel

The Associated Press | Posted December 24, 2006

MIAMI -- U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami acknowledged Saturday that she called for Fidel Castro's assassination -- after earlier claiming a video clip of her making the comments was a fake.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, said she has not seen the unedited footage of her interview, which appears in a 28-second clip on the Internet by the makers of a new British documentary, 638 Ways to Kill Castro.

In it, Ros-Lehtinen says: "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people."

Earlier this month, the Havana-born lawmaker said filmmakers spliced clips together to make the sound bite.

On Saturday, she backed away from that statement.

"If those words were said by me in the raw unedited version, then I said them," she said in a telephone interview.

"I don't recall those exact words," she said, "but I do a lot of interviews and a lot of documentaries on Fidel Castro. It's an everyday situation for me."

She said she was referring to the YouTube.com clip at the time, which shows her voice out of sync with her mouth movements.

Ros-Lehtinen was the city of Miami's first Republican in Congress and the nation's first Cuban-American member of the House. She was sent to Washington in 1989.

She was recently tapped to become the top Republican on the House International Relations Committee.

Ros-Lehtinen has consistently voted on measures that add pressure from the United States on the communist island's leader, such as trade restrictions.

Despite the controversy, the lawmaker said Saturday she "would welcome [Castro's] passing."

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