Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtinen, Sires, and Rivera Express Grave Concern for Cuban Protester, Andres Carrion Alvarez Detained During Papal Mass

Statement

By:  David Rivera Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Mario Diaz-Balart Albio Sires
Date: March 30, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

Today U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and David Rivera (R-FL) issued a joint statement expressing grave concern for Cuban protester Andres Carrion Alvarez, and calling on human rights groups to demand the release of all political prisoners in Cuba:

"Today, we learned the identity of the heroic protester who denounced the Cuban dictatorship with shouts of "Freedom!' and "Down with communism!' during Pope Benedict XVI's mass in Santiago de Cuba on March 26, 2012. His name is Andres Carrion Alvarez, and he has been missing since we last saw him brutally punched and dragged away by state security agents operating in white uniforms with red crosses designed to resemble humanitarian workers of the Red Cross. But as footage of the incident reveals, there was nothing humanitarian about their mission.

"This courageous protester managed to penetrate layers of security designed to prevent potential "troublemakers' from disturbing the propaganda stunt that the regime so carefully orchestrated, along with the shameful collaboration of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This man refused to follow that script. We can only imagine the price that he is paying now for expressing his desire for freedom and exposing the sham on an international stage.

"We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Andres Carrion Alvarez, and for the welfare of the thousands of other pro-democracy activists who were arrested during the Pope's visit to Cuba. We call on human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to monitor his case, and to bring international attention to the arrests of other activists during the Pope's visit in Cuba. We urge them to demand the immediate release of Andres Carrion Alvarez, and to call for the release of all of Cuba's political prisoners.

"We stand with Cuba's brave opposition which is growing in numbers and resolve despite relentless repression by Castro's thugs. We are witnessing ever more calls for liberty by the Cuban people. They have suffered decades under tyranny, but their day of freedom is coming."