A picture of Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ileana R.
Republican FL 27

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  • America’s Relationship With Cuba

    by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, the recent concessions by President Obama to the Castro regime mark a drastic departure from one of the most consistent tenets of United States foreign policy and traditional American values, and sets a dangerous precedent for other rogue regimes to emulate.

    The pardoning of convicted Cuban spies follows an ill-advised exchange with the Taliban in which the rhetoric emerging from the White House to justify its actions has been unnervingly similar. As predicted, the course of policy by this administration on caving to terrorist demands makes the United States more vulnerable.

    We see those repercussions manifest themselves across the globe. Just recently, Venezuela's thug Nicolas Maduro jumped at the opportunity to request an exchange of a convicted criminal in the United States for the freedom of pro-democracy leader Leopoldo Lopez, whom Maduro has jailed in Venezuela.

    This is not the way to protect U.S. national security interests throughout the world; this is a way of putting them in jeopardy.

    When we equate unjustly imprisoned Americans to battle-hardened terrorists or convicted spies, we set a dangerous precedent for the world to follow.

    The Cuban regime has already signaled strongly that it will not unclench its fist, despite recent developments.

    On December 30, just 13 days after President Obama's announcement, the Cuban regime arrested nearly 60 activists seeking to express themselves freely--this in addition to the arrest of more than 200 activists on Human Rights Day--ha, that is rich--just 7 days before the announcement normalizing relations.

    Yet the administration proudly and openly touts the promised but yet unproven release of 53 dissidents as a major breakthrough when in reality the net result will mean hundreds more in Castro's gulags. Raul Castro will free 53 and arrest 60 more in the next months.

    This shows the failure of the administration's argument and proves that there is no intention by the Castros to move in the direction of reform or freedom. Instead, President Obama has created an atmosphere that emboldens the regime to continue its violent tactics with no concern about consequences from this White House.

    We must not forget that Cuba not only poses a threat to its people but also threatens us here at home. Cuba must remain a state sponsor of terrorism because it has not changed its terrorist ways.

    For example, in the year 2013 Cuba was caught helping another dangerous regime, North Korea, evade U.N. Security Council resolutions of sanctions by shipping arms and munitions to the Kim Jong-un regime. At a time when many in Congress and even the White House are trying to punish the North Korean regime for its cyber attacks against the U.S., we cannot forget that those rogue regimes helped North Korea--like the one in Cuba.

    The Castro regime continues to thumb its nose at the U.S. by harboring fugitives such as New Jersey State trooper killer Joanne Chesimard, by harboring Puerto Rican terrorist William Guillermo Morales and bank robber Victor Gerena and many others who have fled U.S. justice for the shores of Cuba.

    These are just a few of the reasons, Mr. Speaker, why the administration must reexamine its relationship with Castro and impose strict sanctions against the thugs, not offer it concessions for all of these transgressions. Just like a zebra cannot change its stripes, the Castro regime cannot and will not change its anti-freedom, terrorist ways.

    It is our duty to support democracy and be a voice for those 11 million Cubans oppressed throughout the island. By appeasing dictators, we have disappointed people all over the world who are struggling to achieve freedom, and the White House has betrayed core American values and principles: the respect for human rights and the right for people to choose their own destiny.

    As the first Cuban American-born Member of Congress who went from being a political refugee, fleeing the oppressive and brutal Castro regime, to a senior Member of this hallowed and cherished body, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the cause for freedom and democracy in Cuba is not forgotten. Until the oppressive yoke of tyranny installed by the Castro brothers has been lifted and the regime has been replaced by a representative democracy like the one we have here in our cherished Nation, I have a moral obligation to freedom-loving people everywhere, and I will not ever forget that responsibility.


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