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Luis Viera speaks at investiture of U.S. Attorney Lee Bentley

March 26, 2015

On March 26, 2015, Luis Viera, acting in his capacity as the Vice President of the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association, spoke at the investiture of Lee Bentley as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.  Mr. Bentley, who was recently appointed by President Obama to this position, invited the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association to present and speak at his investiture.  This investiture took place at the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa, with numerous federal, state and local dignitaries present.    


Below are Mr. Viera's remarks:


May it please the Court.  Thank you very much for allowing the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association to play a role in today's event.  My name is Luis Viera and I am our organization's Vice President.


In thinking over what to talk about here today, and what unites Lee Bentley with our organization, I thought about a lot of things, but to me there was one value - one experience - that really held us together.  And that value or experience is patriotism and love of our country.


Mr. Bentley, a man whose worth in the private sector - monetarily - far exceeds what he, as a public servant, can make as U.S. Attorney, does his job for a reason.  And that reason is he loves his community and his country.


In being a U.S. Attorney, you get a real chance to make right a wrong.  To bring light into where there is darkness.  And to be face of the American Way to the marginalized.


And our history shows this to be true.


Think of, in the early 1960's, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, when the murderers of Schwerner, Cheney and Goodman almost literally got away with murdering these three heroes.  It was the United States Attorney's Office that stepped in and sought justice for those great heroes.  


And think about the experience of the late, great Lt. Col. Lemuel Penn - an African American and World War II hero who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan days before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Athens, Georgia.  Again, were it not for the leadership and courage of the United States Attorney's Office, those who murdered Lt. Col. Penn would have never been punished.


And in our own time, Mr. Bentley, I read about your experience in prosecuting those who brutally beat the two homeless men in 1998.  Again, we have a situation here invoking two homeless men who most of us would never have thought of in our everyday lives.  But you, Mr. Bentley, sought to make right a wrong and sought to bring light into this darkness. And you did it for two men most of us pass on the streets on our way to our jobs and lives.  


Concurrently with this, the experiences of the members of our organization, the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association, have always been beneficiaries of this proactive patriotism.  


Our members' families come from all over the world - Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador and so forth - often fleeing persecution and violence.  And we come to the United States because those institutions - like the Office of the United States Attorney - protect liberty.


I think of my own family.  We left Cuba in 1960, fleeing the Castro regime.  And when we left, with nothing but, as my Father used to say, the shirt on our backs, we sought refuge in a country that affirmed our desire to be free.


So, Mr. Bentley, thank you, from the members of our organization, for your patriotism in action and service.


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