U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the Administration to suspend educational and cultural exchange programs with Cuba, which are often used by the Castro regime for propaganda purposes. Ros-Lehtinen's letter comes as Cuba was again designated by the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report as a "Tier 3" country, which is defined as a country that does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Text of the letter is as follows, and a signed copy may be viewed here.
June 28, 2011
The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521
Dear Secretary Clinton:
In light of the recent publication of the 2011 Trafficking In Persons Report, once again, Cuba ranks as a Tier 3 country. Cuba has been a Tier 3 country since 2003 as the regime continues to sexually exploit women, children, and oppresses the Cuban people. Due to the fact that the Cuban regime has not shown any progress regarding trafficking of persons, I would urge the administration, within all applicable rules and guidelines, to reverse its current policy and suspend all educational and cultural exchanges with the Cuban regime pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
According to U.S. law, "countries on Tier 3 may not receive funding for government employees' participation in educational and cultural exchange programs." Under the repressive Cuban regime, anyone who is involved in cultural and educational exchanges are direct employees of Raul and Fidel Castro. The tyrants use these exchanges as a political instrument to promote their communist agenda while maintaining absolute control over the daily lives of the Cuban people.
Last year, President Obama granted a partial waiver for Cuba to allow funding for educational and cultural exchanges. However, according to the 2011 report, the Cuban regime "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so." This report clearly illustrates the failure of the Obama administration's partial waiver, particularly last year's, to improve or enhance the lives of the Cuban people. These exchanges only serve as a propaganda tool for the authoritative Castro brothers and do not help bring freedom and democracy to Cuba.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.