Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential race, found himself in an embarrassing situation recently when he displayed a lack of knowledge about the persecution of the Uyghur Muslim minority in China.
During an interview on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s syndicated show, Suarez was asked if he would address the issue of the Uyghurs in his campaign. In response, Suarez seemed unaware of who the Uyghurs were, prompting Hewitt to explain and express his surprise at Suarez’s lack of awareness about the ongoing genocide in China.
Following the interview, Hewitt took to Twitter to express his disappointment, stating that a presidential candidate should be knowledgeable about such critical issues and not respond with confusion when asked about them.
Hours later, Suarez tweeted claiming that he had misunderstood Hewitt’s pronunciation during the exchange. He clarified that he was indeed aware of the suffering of the Uyghurs and recognized China’s deplorable human rights record. Suarez attributed his confusion to the pronunciation used by Hewitt.
According to the U.S. State Department, the Chinese government has detained around 1 million Uyghurs in reeducation camps, using counterterrorism and counter-extremism policies as justification. Reports have surfaced detailing the torture and systematic rape inflicted upon the Uyghurs by their Chinese captors.
In January 2022, Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that China had committed crimes against humanity and genocide in its treatment of the Uyghur minority.
Suarez, aged 45, entered the Republican field as the first Hispanic candidate last month. However, he has faced criticism from some within his party for openly admitting that he did not vote for former President Donald Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 elections. Instead, Suarez stated that he wrote in Senator Marco Rubio’s name in 2016 and former Vice President Mike Pence’s name in 2020.