Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, issued the following statement following reports that the European Union (EU) had sent a representative to Cuba to explore ways on how their member states can improve relations with the 50 plus year Castro dictatorship. The visit of the EU rep occurs at a time when close to 60 people in Cuba are on hunger strikes in protest of the wanton violations of human rights that occur daily in the imprisoned island nation.
Said Ros-Lehtinen, "As close to 60 people in Cuba are engaged in hunger strikes to protest the abysmal human rights conditions under the Raul and Fidel Castro tyranny, the EU finds it appropriate to send a representative to explore better relations with the dictatorship. Reports indicate that the EU rep is seeking ways to warm relations between the European community and the Castro family police state. This is shameful and pathetic.
If the EU is truly interested in helping the Cuban people and not perpetuating the Castros' hold on power, here is a start: demand freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the immediate end to the criminal and cowardly abuses committed on a daily basis against peaceful human rights activists and hold free, fair, transparent and internationally monitored elections. Only when these basic conditions are met should the EU even consider improving relations with the Cuban nation.
I urge all responsible nations to raise their voices in support of these brave hunger strikers who are so desperate for freedom that they risk their lives so that the world can focus attention on their plight. The Cuban nation needs liberty and democracy, but sadly the actions of entities such as the EU only serve to cement the hold of the octogenarian dictators who have misruled Cuba for more than half a century."