Obama Visit to Cuba Confers Legitimacy on Castro Regime While it Continues to Oppress the Cuban People, Says Ros-Lehtinen

Mar 18, 2016

Obama Visit to Cuba Confers Legitimacy on Castro Regime While it Continues to Oppress the Cuban People, Says Ros-Lehtinen

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement prior to President Obama’s anticipated visit to Cuba where he will meet with Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“President Obama promised to extend a hand to dictators if they were willing to unclench their fists – that has not happened in Cuba.  The President also stated he would go to Cuba only if the conditions were right and human rights and freedom for the Cuban people had improved – this has not happened in Cuba. In fact, nothing in Cuba has changed.

President Obama has caved and is now looking for a trip that he characterized as ‘fun’ to the island gulag. The Castro regime continues its oppressive and recalcitrant policies which are the antithesis of our nation’s founding idea of freedom. Leading up to the President’s trip, pro-democracy leaders have already been detained, arrested, and are even being prevented from leaving their homes. Ordinary Cubans are fleeing their homeland in record numbers because, unlike President Obama, they don’t see much fun in being repressed by tyrants.

When President Obama shakes Raul Castro’s hand, a hand that is responsible for the murder of Americans, he should remember the many Cubans who have sacrificed their lives, liberty, and property to escape his new negotiating partner.”

To view Ros-Lehtinen’s speech on the House Floor earlier this week, please click here 

Text of Ros-Lehtinen’s speech:

Mr. Speaker, President Obama’s trip to Cuba is ill-conceived trip and premature. A fun trip, the President labeled it.

The visit comes in the heels of declarations by the Communist Party that it will not [QUOTE] give up a single inch in the defense of revolutionary and antiimperialist ideals [END QUOTE]

This translates to over 2,555 arbitrary detentions of peaceful protestors between January and February of 2016 alone, and over 8,000 arrests just last year.

The President’s meeting with civil society is such a low bench mark, the official Cuban newspaper Granma stated that Obama’s visit destroys the myth that Cuba violates human rights.

 Instead, the leader of the free world has chosen a legacy shopping phot op enjoying a baseball game with a murderer and a thug.

Mr. Speaker, in these critical moments for democracy in the island we must support peaceful demonstrations like the one scheduled at South Florida at 11:00am on Sunday in front of the Bay of Pigs monument on 8th street led by la Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana desde el exilio, el Foro por los Derechos y Libertades desde Cuba and the group organización Fundación Rescate Jurídico.

The exile community of Miami which has welcome many of Castro’s political prisoners is painfully aware of the human rights abuses still going on today. This is not a fun trip for peaceful dissidents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.