U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and David Rivera (R-FL) met earlier today with executives from IKEA to discuss the company's alleged use of Cuban political prisoners as forced laborers in the 1980s. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"The allegations that IKEA worked with the Castro regime in the 1980s to use forced labor in Cuba are extremely serious. This morning, my colleagues and I met with executives from IKEA as part of an ongoing effort to get to the bottom of what happened.
"IKEA representatives informed us today that the company takes the charges very seriously, and has launched an investigation to determine the extent to which IKEA or its suppliers may have been involved in the use of Cuban political prisoners as forced laborers. They assured us that current mechanisms are in place to prevent such an atrocity from being repeated and that they are not and will not do any business with the Cuban regime.
"I appreciate today's opportunity to meet with representatives from IKEA and their stated commitment to transparency and a full investigation. However, actions speak louder than words. I will continue to press IKEA on the status of its investigation and will continue to encourage the International Labour Organization (ILO) to open a formal investigation into this matter as well.
"The use of political prisoners as forced laborers anywhere in the world is something that cannot be ignored. The U.S. must hold companies operating in the United States to account for their past transgressions no matter how long ago they occurred."
NOTE: Chairman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) along with Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL), and Albio Sires (D-NJ) sent the following letter to IKEA to further investigate the allegations of IKEA using political prisoners in Cuba as slave labor. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen and Congressmen Sires, Diaz-Balart, and Rivera also sent a letter to the International Labour Organization on the matter.