Feb 23 2015
Washington, D.C. – In light of the second round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks that are set to begin later this week, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the recent arrest of over 200 dissidents in Cuba:
“As the next round of U.S.-Cuba normalization talks begins later this week, U.S. officials are so desperate to open a U.S. embassy in Havana, that they’re forging ahead despite a new wave of repression that has jailed over 200 Cuban democracy activists in the past two weeks. Just this weekend, the Castro dictatorship increased its repression, harassment and incarceration of over 100 peaceful demonstrators and supporters of the Ladies in White. It’s clear there is zero intent on behalf of the Castro dictatorship to engage in a genuine conversation that centers around bringing freedom to the island’s residents.
“In addition, the recent congressional delegation that visited Cuba sent worrying signals to the regime that human rights are, in fact, negotiable. By staying in a regime-controlled hotel that was confiscated twice in its history, these U.S. officials sent a worrying message that the many legal claims the U.S. has against the Castro regime are not a priority for U.S. lawmakers. Even worse about this trip is how the members of Congress capitulated to the regime’s terms for this trip by not meeting with dissidents and human rights activists. These are not insignificant actions, because the regime interprets them as signs that U.S. policy makers are not truly interested in the democratic aspirations and human rights of the Cuban people.
“As the U.S. negotiators come face-to-face with Cuba’s negotiators later this week, the administration must insist that any future negotiations place democracy, human rights, free expression and the free will of the Cuban people to choose their own leaders through multi-party elections as the highest priority before any more concessions are made to the regime.”