U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement on this weekend's latest crackdown by the Cuban regime against members of the Ladies in White attempting to attend or return from church:
"The regime's latest attack on innocent women as they were simply trying to attend church is appalling. The freedom to practice religion is among a long list of basic freedoms that Cubans are denied every day.
"The regime's escalating attacks against the Ladies in White, who want to pray and participate in church services, come as Pope Benedict is scheduled to visit Cuba in a month. The recent violence against parishioners illustrates the regime's merciless efforts to silence freedom of expression and thought, even in prayer.
"It is my hope that the Pope's visit and the continued peaceful demonstrations of the Ladies in White and others throughout Cuba will help raise the world's awareness of the worsening plight of the people living under the Castro dictatorship. I call upon religious leaders around the world to support these brave men and women who are being persecuted for nothing more than attempting to worship in peace."
NOTE: "Las Damas de Blanco" (also known as the Ladies in White) is an organization comprised of the female relatives of Cuban political prisoners. They were formed to give a voice to the oppressed Cuban people, particularly their loved ones who are unjustly incarcerated in Cuban prisons. Their peaceful demonstrations are met with constant arrests, harassment and beatings by the Cuban regime.