U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), along with her colleagues Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and David Rivera (R-FL) sent a letter to the International Labour Organization (ILO) urging it to investigate reports that the Castro regime has used prisoners of conscience as slave labor, in direct violation of internationally-recognized labor standards, including those overseen by the ILO, where Cuba is a member. Statement from Ros-Lehtinen:
"While I would not be the least surprised if the Cuban regime had used political prisoners as slave labor, it is still an appallingly horrific notion to think such practices were still being employed in the closing decades of the 20th century. My Cuban American colleagues in the House and I are seeking a thorough investigation by the ILO of one of its members, the Cuban regime of Raul and Fidel Castro, of its past and current practices and calling on the ILO to hold the dictatorship accountable for any violations.
"The recent reports that furniture giant IKEA used Cuban prison labor during the 1980's to build its furniture are disturbing and must be investigated, as must reports that PROVARI may have also participated in such practices. If confirmed, the ILO must severely sanction the regime and its partners.
"Human slavery is a particularly indignant and harsh attack against the most basic human rights. The Castro dictatorship lies to the world claiming Cuba is a workers' paradise but, in reality, there are no rights of any kind under the Castro brothers. These reports are more proof of the horrific state of human rights in communist Cuba.
"The Castro regime has been given a pass far too many times by international organizations willing to look the other way on Cuba's grave human rights abuses. My colleagues and I urge the ILO to comprehensively investigate these accusations regarding IKEA, PROVARI, and the deplorable state of workers' rights under the Castro dictatorship."