Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan

    Miami lawmakers join Cuban advocates to blast Obama plan BY CHRIS ADAMS MCCLATCHY WASHINGTON BUREAU 01/20/2015 8:29 PM 01/20/2015 10:28 PM WASHINGTON Cuban democracy activists and Republican lawmakers on Tuesday blasted the White House and its proposed easing of tension with the Castro government, saying during a Capitol Hill press conference that the Obama administration […] Continue reading

    Boehner’s Speech Guests Include Cuban Resistance Leader

    Boehner’s Speech Guests Include Cuban Resistance Leader By KRISTINA PETERSON House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) will host Cuban resistance leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, known as Antunez, among his guests at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. Guests connected to Cuba, with whom the U.S. is easing trade and travel rules for the […] Continue reading

    Havana’s unchanging hardline

    Posted on Saturday, 02.15.14 Havana’s unchanging hardline OUR OPINION: Human rights should remain the measure of U.S. policy toward Cuba HERALDED@MIAMIHERALD.COM Suddenly, there appears to be movement, or at least the start of a conversation, regarding policy toward Cuba on the part of the European Union and Americans interested in the welfare of the Cuban […] Continue reading

    In solidarity with Cuba’s voices of opposition to Castro’s tyranny

    Posted on Saturday, 03.30.13


    In solidarity with Cuba's voices of opposition to Castro's tyranny

    As we celebrate Passover and Easter, we cherish the freedom to practice
    our beliefs and express our views, but are also reminded of those 90
    miles away who suffer under an evil communist dictatorship. As the
    beacon of democracy, we stand with pro-freedom activists in Cuba who are
    struggling to achieve those same essential liberties.

    On Monday, South Florida will have the opportunity to hear, once again,
    the tragic story of an oppressed people under the thumb of a despotic
    regime. Yoani Sánchez uses social media to shine a light on the dark
    rule of the Castro brothers. Through her blog and writings, Yoani
    reveals the plight of the Cuban people to the international community,
    raises awareness on the extent of the regime's brutality, and gives
    voice to those silenced by oppression.

    During her recent visit to Washington, we, along with our congressional
    colleagues, discussed with Yoani the ongoing dire situation in Cuba.
    This event illustrated the bipartisan and bicameral support for the
    cause of democracy in Cuba. We discussed the gross human-rights
    violations on the island as Yoani conveyed the atrocities committed
    against the Cuban people and the denial of their rights of free speech,
    press, and assembly. We expressed to Yoani that, even if we do not agree
    on every point, we stand in solidarity with the opposition voices in
    Cuba and reaffirmed that they are not alone in their struggle.

    This month, we remember the 2003 Black Spring crackdown in Cuba where 75
    dissidents were unjustly imprisoned. Unfortunately, little has changed
    since that time. The Ladies in White continue to be harassed, kicked and
    beaten by Castro's state security agents just for marching in peace to
    church. The Castro regime has the blood of pro-democracy advocates on
    its hands, and we remain deeply concerned for the health and lives of
    those brave activists who continue to speak out.

    During the years of the Obama administration alone, pro-democracy
    leaders Orlando Zapata Tamayo (d. Feb. 23, 2010), Juan Wilfredo Soto
    García (d. May 8, 2011), Laura Pollán (d. Oct. 14, 2011), Wilman Villar
    Mendoza (d. Jan. 19, 2012), Harold Cepero (d. July 22, 2012) and Oswaldo
    Payá Sardiñas (d. July 22, 2012) have lost their lives at the hands of
    the Castro dictatorship. These deaths underscore the grave risks assumed
    by pro-democracy activists such as Antonio Rodiles, Sara Marta Fonseca,
    Yoani Sánchez, Jorge Luis García Pérez ("Antunez"), José Daniel Ferrer
    García, Marta Beatriz Roque, Berta Soler, Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet and
    many others when they simply express their views.

    We also cannot forget the appalling case of Alan Gross, a U.S.
    humanitarian aid worker who was arrested in December 2009 and remains in
    prison for the "crime" of helping Cuba's small Jewish community access
    the Internet. He is reportedly in poor health after having lost 100
    pounds in prison while his daughter and mother are both battling cancer
    in the U.S.

    According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 World Report, "Cuba remains the
    only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of
    political dissent. In 2012, the regime . . . continued to enforce
    political conformity using short-term detentions, beatings, public acts
    of repudiation, travel restrictions, and forced exile." Numerous NGOs
    have documented the sharp rise in detentions, arrests and other acts of
    repudiation in Cuba, but the numbers could actually be higher due to
    many who are imprisoned on trumped-up charges that are difficult to
    document. For example, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and
    National Reconciliation reported that there were 6,602 documented
    political arrests in 2012, which was markedly up from 4,123 in 2011 and
    2,074 in 2010.

    Unfortunately, many in the international community fail to acknowledge
    the Castro regime's egregious human rights record and brutal suppression
    of fundamental liberties. However, with the help of Yoani and other
    pro-democracy advocates, the Castro brothers have failed to silence the
    Cuban people who are increasingly demanding real change.

    Cuba's growing opposition movement is more united than ever. Due to its
    heroic efforts, democracy will prevail on the island. May it be soon.

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart are Republican members of
    Congress representing South Florida. Continue reading