By the Hispanic Leadership Network, Special for US Daily Review.
President Obama is welcoming Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro and well-known communist, to visit the U.S. With this action, the Obama Administration has managed to offend both Americans and the international community.
“The Obama Administration’s decision to grant a visa for Mariela Castro Espin sends the wrong message to pro-democracy activists in Cuba, many of them jailed, who are enduring the fight for universal human rights and freedom,” said Jennifer S. Korn, Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network.
Elected officials from both sides of the aisle have condemned the White House’s decision, recognizing that the United States should always remain the beacon of hope and freedom to all. “Ultimately, this Administration has chosen to extend a visa to an individual who is part of the Castro tyranny,” stated Korn.
Meanwhile, countless Cuban dissidents, such as famed blogger Yoani Sanchez and economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe, are trapped at home while their visas are routinely denied by the Cuban government. Korn continued, “President Obama should remember his own words from just last year, that the United States needs to see ‘real change’ in Cuba before there can be normal relations between the two neighbors.”
Starting with President Reagan, the U.S. has regularly denied visas to Cuban delegations. Mariela Castro Espin is being allowed to visit and deliver remarks in San Francisco this Thursday, May 24th.
RESPONSE FROM OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS:
- “The Administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy,” wrote Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), and David Rivera (R-Fla.).
- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is Cuban-American, blasted the decision, labeling Mariela Castro “a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy” according to the Associated Press.
- Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), also slammed the decision as “shameful” in a
- Cuba is the only country in the Americas that consistently makes Freedom House’s list of the Worst of the Worst: the World’s Most Repressive Societies for widespread abuses of political rights and civil liberties. (Freedom House, Worst of the Worst, 2011).
- Cuba remains the only country in Latin America that represses virtually all forms of political dissent. The government enforces political conformity using harassment, invasive surveillance, threats of imprisonment, and travel restrictions. (Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in Cuba, 2012).
- Alan Gross, an American USAID subcontractor has been jailed in Cuba since December 2009 for distributing communications equipment on the island. Despite repeated requests from the State Department and the international community to release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds, the Cuban government has refused (CNN, Hillary Clinton Remarks, 2012).
- In 2003, the Cuban government detained 75 journalists and librarians, as well as human rights activists, who were convicted and sentenced to up to 28 years in jail (Committee to Protect Journalists, Black Spring of 2003: A former Cuban prisoner speaks, 2009).
- In Cuba the government limits access to information. As a result 93 percent of Cubans have no access to the Internet. (International Republican Institute, Cuban Public Opinion Survey, 2011).
- Per Presidential Proclamation 5377, issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, agents of the Cuban dictatorship are prohibited from obtaining U.S. visas except in very specific circumstances. (Heritage Foundation, Rubio, Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen Blast Visa Award for Raul Castro’s Daughter, May 2012).
The Hispanic Leadership Network is an advocacy action group focused on engaging the Hispanic community on center-right policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government and individual empowerment. HLN serves as a home for center-right Hispanic advocates across the country whose goal is to restore opportunity and prosperity in America.