Bipartisan Congressional Group Requests Answers from Secretary Kerry Regarding Visa Granted to Cuban Dictator’s Daughter Who is Public Face of the Dictatorship

May 3, 2013

(WASHINGTON) – A bipartisan group of Congressional Members (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Albio Sires, and Mario Diaz-Balart) requested answers today in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the visa granted to Mariela Castro  - Fidel Castro’s niece and daughter of Raul Castro – that allowed her to attend a gay rights forum in Philadelphia.

Text of letter is below:

May 3, 2013

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We are deeply disturbed that an entry visa was granted, once again, to Mariela Castro in clear violation of Congressional intent and U.S. law.

Mariela Castro is the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro, niece of Fidel Castro, and a high-level member of Cuba’s Communist Party. As such, she should not be permitted U.S. entry. 

According to Presidential Proclamation 5377, Section 1:

Entry of the following classes of Cuban nationals as nonimmigrants is hereby suspended: (a) officers or employees of the Government of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba holding diplomatic or official passports; and (b) individuals who, notwithstanding the type of passport that they hold, are considered by the Secretary of State or his designee to be officers or employees of the Government of Cuba or the Communist Party of Cuba.

In addition to granting the visa, reports indicate that the State Department reversed its previous position by allowing Mariela Castro to travel outside the 25-mile radius from New York to attend a conference in Philadelphia.

Accordingly, we request that you answer the following questions:

  • Why is the State Department ignoring current U.S. law by continuing to provide visas to Cuban Communist Party operatives such as Mariela Castro?
  • Given the fact that the United States must approve any travel outside of the 25-mile radius in New York for Cuban operatives, what is the justification for granting Mariela Castro such permission?
  • Has reciprocity been provided to U.S. Interests Section personnel to travel outside of Havana, Cuba?

Granting U.S. entry to this high-level individual from the Castro regime on two separate occasions undermines key foreign policy objectives, disregards Congressional intent, and rewards a top operative of the repressive Castro dictatorship. It is unconscionable that while Mariela Castro is in the U.S. exercising her right of free speech, the Cuban people face arrests, brutal beatings, and imprisonment for simply expressing opposition to the regime. At the same time, it is appalling that the U.S. denies entry to countless Cubans, especially many family members of political prisoners who suffer as a result of the tyranny she represents.

Within all applicable rules and regulations, we respectfully ask for an explanation as to why Mariela Castro was permitted to enter the U.S. once again, and we urge you to deny U.S. entry visas in the future to Castro operatives who share responsibility for the Cuban people’s oppression.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN                                               ALBIO SIRES         
Member of Congress                                                    Member of Congress                                                                 

MARIO DIAZ-BALART                                                                                                     
Member of Congress