U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement regarding the unjust imprisonment of democracy advocate Iván Fernández Depestre, his deteriorating health, and the continued violation of human rights by the Castro regime in Cuba. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"The unjust imprisonment of peaceful democracy advocate Iván Fernandez Depestre by the Castro regime is outrageous, and I am very concerned about his deteriorating health as he continues his hunger strike. Iván displayed great bravery in choosing to stand up for his fellow countrymen and women and protest the brutal oppression of the Castro brothers. And for doing so, he was arrested and handed an arbitrary 2-year prison term on bogus charges commonly used to imprison freedom fighters.
"The international community must express solidarity with the 11 million Cubans oppressed by the Castros and it must demand the immediate release of not only Iván but all those innocent Cubans being held unjustly in Castro's gulags. The dictators must know that the world will not stand by and watch them stomp on basic human rights but that it is watching vigilantly and is working to help the opposition attain the freedom and dignity that the Cuban people deserve."