Path To Freedom In Cuba
The United States remains committed to helping Cuba find a path to
freedom, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere
Affairs Roberta Jacobson.
The United States is committed to supporting the Cuban people's desire
to freely determine their own future. Recently, the United States has
eased travel restrictions to the island nation and permitted Cuban
Americans to send remittances to Cuba. This is part of a strategy to
enhance the free flow of information to, from, and within the island,
support civil society, and provide Cubans with resources to take
advantage of opportunities for self-employment and private property,
reduce their dependence on the Cuban state, and fuel the emergence of a
market economy that we hope will eventually challenge the dominance of
Cuba's current ineffective, state-run economic model.
The United States also recognizes the importance of engaging with the
pro-democracy and human rights activists who have been working for years
to expand the political and civil rights of all Cubans. U.S. foreign
assistance programs in Cuba provide humanitarian assistance to political
prisoners and their families, support the documentation of human rights
abuses, and promote the free flow of information.
In 2010 and 2011, the Cuban government released dozens of political
prisoners. Unfortunately, their release did not bring about a
fundamental change in the Cuban government's poor record on human
rights. The Cuban government has continued to punish political dissent,
increasingly using repeated, short-term, arbitrary detentions to prevent
citizens from assembling peacefully and expressing their opinions. It
continues to limit freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and access
to information. And it has continued to harass peaceful human rights
defenders, including the courageous "Ladies in White." The U.S. also
continues to seek the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, an aid worker,
who has been unjustly imprisoned in Cuba since 2009.
The U.S. has taken steps to support religious groups in Cuba by
authorizing U.S. religious organizations to sponsor religious travel,
and by allowing unlimited remittances, the people of the United States
are directly supporting the empowerment of Cubans to engage in religious
activities on the island.
The message to Cuba and other governments across the hemisphere is clear
said Assistant Secretary Jacobson: "Exercise of free speech is not
criminal behavior. To the contrary, free speech is a right that must be
defended. ... We will be the first to cheer when a democratically chosen
government in Cuba resumes its full participation in the Inter-American