Amendments to the 2011 federal spending continuing resolution that sought to eliminate U.S. radio and television broadcasts to Cuba, otherwise known as Radio and TV Marti, were withdrawn from consideration due to overwhelming bipartisan opposition from House Republicans and Democrats who were prepared to fight any effort to deny uncensored information from reaching the Cuban people.
Congressman David Rivera (FL-25) worked with fellow House members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Albio Sires in the effort against the elimination of Radio and TV Martí--the only source that provides accurate news and information to the people of Cuba. Congressman Rivera enlisted the support of Freshman Class leaders such as class president Austin Scott of Georgia, and freshman leadership liaisons Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Congressman Rivera issued a "Dear Colleague" letter directed to his fellow freshman members asking them to oppose the amendments, and personally lobbied freshman members on the floor of the House on the issue.
In his letter to fellow freshmen, Rivera stated, "Recent events in Egypt have demonstrated the importance of the free flow of information to spark democratic activism. After 52 years of a totalitarian communist dictatorship in Cuba, now is not the moment to give the Castro regime a unilateral concession such as the elimination of American broadcasts promoting freedom and democracy."
Rivera also cited in his letter Cuba's inclusion on the U.S. State Department's list of official sponsors of terrorism as well as the Castro dictatorship currently holding American citizen Alan Gross hostage. Gross, who was on a humanitarian visit to Cuba, has been jailed by the Castro regime for over a year without due process of law.
After the withdrawal of the amendments, Rivera stated, "The withdrawal of these amendments is a victory for freedom of information, and for the hope of democracy in Cuba. The Castro dictatorship controls all other sources of information on the island. Eliminating Radio and TV Martí would have meant eliminating a lifeline to pro-democracy activists on the island."
Rep. Rivera's Letter:
Oppose McCollum Amendment (#51) to Cut Freedom and Democracy Broadcasts to Cuba
Dear Fellow Freshman,
Today an amendment will be offered by Rep. Betty McCullom (D-MN) to eliminate funding for U.S. radio and television broadcasts to Cuba, also known as Radio and TV Marti. Please oppose this amendment.
The Marti broadcasts have followed in the tradition of Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Asia by providing uncensored news and information to the captive island nation of Cuba.
As many of you are aware, Cuba has been designated as an official sponsor of state terrorism by our own government. The Castro dictatorship demonstrated its terrorist nature in 1996 when it murdered four American citizens flying in international space air.
As we debate this amendment today, the Cuba dictatorship is holding an American citizen hostage. Alan Gross, who was on a humanitarian visit to Cuba, has been jailed by the Castro regime for over a year without due process of law.
Recent events in Egypt have demonstrated the importance of the free flow of information to spark democratic activism.
After 52 years of totalitarian communist dictatorship in Cuba, now is not the moment to give the Castro regime unilateral concession such as the elimination of American broadcasts promoting freedom and democracy.
I respectfully ask my freshman colleagues to stand with the Cuban people against Castro's terrorist dictatorship on this issue. Please support America's broadcasting in support of liberty and vote NO on the McCullom Amendment (No. 51). Thank You.