Matt Gaetz introduces Cuban 'son' named Nestor, gets slammed for being 'opportunistic to win political points'
Although not a formal adoptee, Gaetz revealed in an interview that 19-year-old Nestor Galban has been living with him since his move from Cuba to Florida
On June 18, Matt Gaetz, the US representative for Florida's 1st Congressional district, took social media by surprise when he revealed that he is living with a 19-year-old Cuban immigrant, Nestor Galban, whom he calls his "son." The post came after an argument that ensued a day prior with Rep Cedric Richmond, D-La, when Gaetz alleged that Richmond suggested Republicans do not know what it means to worry about raising a non-white child.
"For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life," said Gaetz in a tweet on Thursday, June 18. "Nestor turned 19 a few days ago & will be off to University. He arrived here at 12. As you can imagine, I was triggered when (to make an absurd debate point) a fellow congressman diminished the contributions of Republicans because we don’t raise non-white kids. Well, I have," he added.
In an interview with People magazine, Gaetz talked about his relationship with Galban. Galban was 12 when he arrived in Florida, six years ago, from Cuba, after his mother had passed away from breast cancer, Gaetz told the publication. At the time, state legislator Gaetz had been dating Galban's older sister and so he moved in with them. The Florida Rep said that, save for a brief interruption in his junior year when Gaetz and Galban's sister broke up, the 19-year-old has been practically living with him since he moved from Cuba. “He is a part of my family story,” Gaetz, 38, told People. “My work with Nestor, our family, no element of my public service could compare to the joy that our family has brought me.”
However, Galban isn't Gaetz's formally adopted son, and he declined to discuss Galban's present relationship with his biological family, but he did reframe his perception of their father-son relationship as: "Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork.” Gaetz said Galban is "my son in every conceivable way, and I can’t imagine loving him anymore if he was my own flesh and blood.”
“I just think that it’s been the greatest thing in my life that this young man has been a part of my family,” he said to People, choked up in his emotions, “and going forward I look forward to being his biggest cheerleader.” This was the first time he had publically identified himself as a father. While his surprise announcement did take many off-guard, others accused Gaetz of being "opportunistic" and "calculated" for possibly using his son to win some political favor. Several users over social media platforms like Twitter said this was is a means of squashing the accusations of prejudice made against him, by pointing to his personal relationships with people of color. Some also brought the focus to Gaetz's views on immigration.
"If Nestor is indeed your adopted son, then you brought him out at an opportunistic and calculated moment to win political points about diversity and inclusion at a vulnerable time for you regarding the issue of racism, which is just plain selfish, disgusting, and almost abusive", said Eugene Gu MD, via a tweet. "If Nestor is not your adopted son but has some other relationship to you, then that raises a whole slew of other questions that people may can get into and investigate but I’m going to steer clear of that because Nestor is an otherwise innocent bystander that you brought here."
"Matt Gaetz adopted a son named Nestor while dating his sister and apparently this is all common knowledge among Washington DC insider circles and yet the media never reported on this because white privilege is a helluva drug like having a DUI and still serving in Congress", a Twitter user claimed, while another added, "#MattGaetzIsATool How weird to just reveal an adopted child from Cuba (which doesn’t permit US adoptions) 6 years ago! Why was he hidden? No pictures. Never mentioned until the fiasco."
"And...Cuba does not permit adoptions of Cuban children by non-Cubans...so...is Matt lying? Something just doesn’t add up here..." a user concurred in a tweet. "Considering he voted against the child trafficking legislation, he has been searching for 6 years for a cover for his underage lover; finally found one. We all know what republican thing pages are for", another alleged.
As the reactions began pouring, some more negative than others, Gaetz's sister, Erin, tweeted a couple of pictures of her brother with his son, attempting to clear any doubts about their relationship. Galban took to his Twitter handle to write in favor of his father and in appreciation of his parentage. "I love you, keep up the good work, we all support you and love you!" he tweeted, to which Gaetz responded with, "Love you Nestor!" Come fall, Galban will pursue a degree in nursing at Troy University in Alabama, People reported. “I want to study nursing because I like helping people and I think every day being able to save people’s lives and being able to heal people and take care of them makes me happy,” Galban, told the magazine about his interest in science. “Matt is not my biological father, but he raised me as his own son when I came from Cuba after my mother’s death," he added. “He’s always been a role model in my life."