Ros-Lehtinen on House Floor: Obama Smiles in Front of Image of Murderer Che Guevara; Arrests of Pro-Democracy Leaders By Castro Regime Continue

Mar 22, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen on House Floor: Obama Smiles in Front of Image of Murderer Che Guevara; Arrests of Pro-Democracy Leaders By Castro Regime Continue


(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) made the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 22 regarding President Obama’s visit to the Castro regime in Cuba. Videos and transcripts below:

Ros-Lehtinen remarks on House Floor, Tuesday, March 22: President Obama Smiling in Front of Image of Murderer Che Guevara 

To view the video, please click here 

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen

“Mr. Speaker, a picture is worth a thousand words. This poster shows President Obama with the Che Guevara image behind him. Coming soon to a t-shirt near you. Che was a sadistic murderer and a killer who executed Cubans during his reign of terror. Che, along with Fidel and Raul Castro, are responsible for the suffering, misery, and oppression of the people of Cuba. But it seems that some people just don’t care. Yesterday, President Obama said in an interview that he would be happy to meet with Fidel Castro and President Obama believes that Raul Castro ‘truly wants change in Cuba.’ Really? What’s stopping Castro from holding free and fair elections? Let’s start with that little change. This continued effort to legitimize this regime and its atrocities is appalling. It’s appalling for those people who love freedom. It’s appalling for those who have been political prisoners in Castro’s gulags. It’s appalling for those families who have lost their loved ones because of this communist regime. Today is a sad day indeed and this poster says it all. Smiling in front of Che Guevara. Get the t-shirt now.”


Ros-Lehtinen remarks on House Floor, Tuesday, March 22: Arrests of Pro-Democracy Leaders by Castro Regime Continue 

To view the video, please click here 

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen

“Mr. Speaker, in 2014, President Obama said he wanted to go to Cuba if, and I quote, ‘I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in liberty and freedom. If we’re going backwards,’ President Obama said, ‘then there’s not much reason for me to be there. I’m not interested in just validating the status quo.’ Well, look at this poster, Mr. Speaker. These are human dissidents who are rounded up and beaten. If Obama’s Cuba policy is not going backwards, I don’t know what is. Because the oppressive Cuban apparatus of repression only seems to be emboldened.

“Mr. Speaker, yesterday in Havana, Raul Castro was asked by a reporter if he would release political prisoners in Cuba. Castro looked uncomfortable. Why? Because in Cuba there is no free press. Reporters are not allowed to ask real questions to regime leaders. Castro said well, there are no political prisoners in Cuba at all. And if there were, he would free them by nightfall. That’s a good one. Well there are 11 million people imprisoned by Castro’s communist regime. The entire island. But here’s a list, Mr. Speaker, of over 50 political prisoners that I’d like to put in the record. This is a list comprised by the Cuban Democratic Directorate. Some of these individuals have been in jail for over 20 years. Others are constantly detained, released, and re-arrested.

“During his time in Cuba President Obama failed to announce any substantive changes – policies such as the fugitive policy. Are there any news on returning New Jersey cop killer Joanne Chesimard or any of the other fugitives of U.S. justice such as Charles Hill, William Guillermo Morales and Victor Manuel Gerena? No news. On confiscated property there was no positive announcement about the Castro regime paying back Americans who had their properties confiscated. There was no announcement by Castro about improving human rights on the island. Castro denied that human rights violations occur in Cuba. Again, look at this poster. As predicted, Castro also demanded the return of the Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay. This Congress has been very clear that it strongly opposes relinquishing Gitmo or transferring detainees to the United States.

“Now President Obama incorrectly keeps calling the communist strongman Castro ‘President Castro.’ Wrong. He is not ‘President’ of Cuba. There have never been elections. There are no political parties except the communist party in Cuba. There are no free and fair elections. He is not ‘President.’ Stop calling a dictator ‘President.’ The President – our President Obama proclaimed that this trip to Cuba would be ‘fun.’ That’s his word. It hasn’t been fun to all of the Cubans who have been beaten leading up to the President’s visit. It hasn’t been fun to all the Cubans who have been prevented from leaving their homes until the President departs Cuba because they are human rights activists.

“Now let me show you this other poster, Mr. Speaker. This is a poster of President Reagan with Gorbachev in 1987. And what happened there? President Reagan said ‘Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ In Havana 2016, President Obama says ‘thank you President Castro for your spirit of openness.’ Spirit of openness? And again, ‘President’ what? He’s not a President. What openness when press is prohibited in Cuba? What openness when the Cuban people are jailed for dissenting views? What openness when the economy is controlled by one entity, the communist regime? America under the Obama administration has forsaken those who suffer under Castro’s oppression. That’s a sad fact.

“And this will be President Obama’s legacy, Mr. Speaker. The President who abdicated America’s role as the defender of international human rights all for a narcissistic play at building a legacy as the President who restored America’s relations with dictators and tyrants who will do anything to undermine our country and harm our interests and our citizens. And that is all there is about Cuba.”


Ros-Lehtinen remarks on House Floor, Monday, March 21: Arrests of Pro-Democracy Activists Before President Obama’s Visit

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Statement by Ros-Lehtinen

“Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker. Raul Castro’s thugs arrested or detained many Cuban pro-democracy leaders in anticipation of the President’s time in Cuba. Berta Soler, the leader of the Ladies in White – was detained. Antonio Rodiles – detained. And some of these activists were invited to participate in the meeting with President Obama. Antunez and his wife Yris – arrested. Musician Gorki Águila – arrested. Former political prisoner Ángel Moya – arrested. Pastor Mario Felix Lleonart Barroso was arrested yesterday. The Castro brothers have shifted their strategy to a catch and release program to intimidate activists who have been placed under house arrest by the repressive apparatus of the regime. President Obama says that human rights are important to him – but empty words with no actions to back them up sends the message to the Castro regime to continue with his repression. And Castro continues to do so. No surprise there. Shame on us, Mr. Speaker.”


Ros-Lehtinen remarks on House Floor, Monday, March 21: Continued Harassment and Beating of Peaceful Ladies in White

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Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When President Obama announced his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba in December 2014, many of us believed that his decision would only embolden the regime and end up hurting the Cuban people. Well, almost a year and half later, we can say – unfortunately, as expected – that our suspicions have been warranted. This is indeed what has happened. President Obama is only worried about legacy shopping and is willing to ignore the plight of the Cuban people who continue to suffer under Castro, and this normalization effort has been an abject failure for freedom and democracy on the island. The lives of the Cuban people have not improved. A record number of them are fleeing the island to escape Castro’s tyranny. And freedom and liberty, unfortunately, are no longer seen to be the goals of this administration for the people of Cuba.

“In December 2015, President Obama said in an interview that he would go to Cuba only when human rights and the situation on the island of human rights had improved. Well, Mr. Speaker, this is what human rights looks like on the island, the valiant Ladies in White who walk peacefully in Cuba to their church. And you see one being dragged away on the lower corner. And this is what happens to them every week in Castro’s Cuba. They are harassed, they are beaten. This is not what an improved human rights situation looks like at all, Mr. President. Hours before the President arrived in Cuba, hundreds of pro-democracy advocates were arrested. Listen to that, ladies and gentlemen. Hundreds of pro-democracy advocates were arrested just hours before the President’s Air Force One touched down. Many of them were members of the Ladies in White – Las Damas de Blanco. The Ladies in White are mothers, wives, daughters, sisters of current or former political prisoners. These brave women continue to speak out for justice and freedom against a regime that oppresses them daily and arrests them every Sunday when they walk peacefully to church.

“Two weeks ago, the Ladies in White leader Berta Soler – and we saw her in one of the posters – she asked President Obama very pointedly – and there they are getting arrested, harassed as they do all the time – she said please visit Gandhi Park where we meet. Meet with the victims of Castro’s repression. Well, President Obama responded by stating ‘no one should face harassment, arrest, or physical assault simply because they are exercising a universal right to have their voices heard.’ That’s absolutely true. And then he added that he would raise these issues directly with their oppressor, Raul Castro. But once you have already embraced the oppressor of the Ladies in White and legitimized the regime on the world stage, what do these empty rhetoric and phrases matter – to any of them?

“In February 2015, Berta Soler testified before our House Committee on Foreign Affairs and she stated: ‘our demands are quite concrete: Freedom for political prisoners, recognition of civil society, the elimination of all criminal dispositions that penalize freedom of expression and association, and the right of the Cuban people to choose their future through free, plural elections.’ Elections in Cuba? Fidel Castro famously said ‘elections for what?’ They don’t have any political system at all. It’s only one party that’s allowed to operate, that’s the communist party. They have selections, not elections.

“The Cuban people deserve more than just lip-service and platitudes from the White House. They are demanding actions and reforms in Cuba to unclench the fist of the Castro control. But solely a meeting with Cuban civil society is a very low bar, Mr. Speaker. It is not enough to help the Cuban people, especially after shaking the hands of a murderous tyrant like Raul Castro. However, even this meeting with civil society is being undermined by Castro’s thugs. Even this low bar – ‘gee, if I just meet with dissidents, check it off the list, then my trip will have been a success.’ Many civil society members have stated that they are now under house arrest as I speak. That Castro security agents are preventing them from leaving their own homes until President Obama leaves Cuba.

“In Cuba’s communist newspaper called Granma, the regime noted that President Obama’s trip to Havana dispels the myth that human rights are being violated on the island. They’re no fools. They understand. The image is worth a thousand words. The image of President Obama in Cuba says ‘no human rights are being violated.’ And the regime knows that all of the concessions that President Obama has given comes with no strings attached – and I will end with this, Mr. Speaker – no reforms are needed, no changes need to be made. In fact, the Castro regime has already stated that it will not change one bit after all of these concessions. The Cuban people deserve better. The American people deserve better. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time.”