Ros-Lehtinen Presses Kerry on Human Rights in Cuba and Extraditing Murderers of Brothers to the Rescue Pilots

Feb 25, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen Presses Kerry on Human Rights in Cuba and Extraditing Murderers of Brothers to the Rescue Pilots

“Human rights, confiscated property, U.S. fugitives from justice, does any of it matter to this administration?”

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, asked Secretary of State John Kerry the following questions regarding the lack of human rights in Castro’s Cuba, indicting the murderers of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots, and other issues during a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Remarks by Ros-Lehtinen throughout the questioning (as delivered):

“Moving on to the administration’s shameful concession policy toward Cuba that has turned its back on human rights advocates, yes or no are human rights in Cuba a priority for this administration?

Then how do you explain this year’s budget request for even less democracy funding for Cuba when it’s worse than ever before and you’re about to travel to Cuba for your second visit?

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary, as you know, of the shootdown of the Brothers to the Rescue planes that were ordered by Raul Castro resulting in the murder of innocent Americans. Will you commit, Mr. Secretary, to the families of these victims today that you will seek the extradition of Castro regime officials responsible for the shootdown, General Rubén Martínez Puente, Lorenzo Alberto Pérez y Pérez and Francisco Pérez y Pérez?

Mr. Secretary, you’re aware that over 8,000 people were arrested since the December 17th announcement of President Obama? Arbitrary arrests, detaining human rights advocates, whatever you would like to call people who are being held outside of their will.

Some that have been released were actually put on the list and re-arrested so that they can be released again and some who were released...anyway, that’s very interesting about that list of freed people that Castro plays. I hope we’re not silly enough to believe that.

And I’m wondering if you know in which illegally confiscated U.S. property you will be holding a press conference while you’re in Havana. Last year, you held a press conference at the Hotel Nacional. The American owner, the InterContinental Hotel Corporation, still has a U.S. certified claim for its majority interests in the hotel. Do you know which illegally confiscated property you will stop at this time?

And then finally, will you commit to this Committee that you will pressure Castro to unconditionally return to the United States New Jersey cop killer Joanne Chesimard? Human rights, confiscated property, U.S. fugitives from justice, does any of it matter to this administration?

How do you explain the massive exodus and 80% increase of Cubans leaving the island?

But you’re talking about small business owners that are just – I’d like to go to that optometrist because those rose-colored glasses are amazing. There have been massive arrests, massive exodus and still we talk about this non-existent entrepreneurial class in Cuba.”

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