Ron DeSantis Calls Florida America's West Berlin: 'People View This as a Free Zone'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared his state to be the "West Berlin" of the United States on Monday. The rising GOP star quipped that even some Democratic lawmakers "escape" their own "repressive" policies in order to enjoy Florida's version of freedom.

DeSantis was in Miami Monday signing legislation enabling state fines on tech companies that ban public figures from their platforms. He took the opportunity to tout Florida's "freedom" and rejection of COVID-19 restrictions.

"You know, we are effectively America's West Berlin over the last year, and people have viewed this as a free zone, where not only they move to to follow their dreams, but even if it's just visiting for a time to escape some of the more repressive policies—and that even includes people that impose repressive policies will still come down to Florida," DeSantis said.

Despite signing legislation that places regulations on tech companies operating in the state, DeSantis highlighted his lifting of mask requirements in October and positive small-business numbers.

"We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish," said DeSantis, who led the charge in overturning fines imposed on local municipalities and on residents who were caught violating pandemic regulations, particularly in the Miami area. "People have the right to work...right to operate businesses.

According to cumulative coronavirus data, Florida experienced 36,473 deaths tied to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

DeSantis' Cold War comparison comes just days after Georgia GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene received bipartisan condemnation for likening the House's mask requirements to the horrors of the Holocaust. The governor's critics immediately pounced on his remarks.

"Of course, he's right in some respects," sniped Orlando Weekly. "West Berlin was a bombed-out and grim city where artists flourished because the lack of any investment made the city cheap to live in. Florida has the lack of concern for its underclass down pat, though it's prohibitively expensive to live in any of its cities."

Newsweek reached out to DeSantis' office for any additional remarks Tuesday morning.

ron desantis florida freedom
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the state suing the federal government to allow cruises to resume in Florida on April 8 in Miami. JOE RAEDLE / Staff/Getty Images