U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with Cuban democracy activist Jorge Luis García Pérez "Antúnez" today.
At the meeting, Antúnez discussed the growing strength and unity of the Cuban opposition, the need to overcome the information blockade that the Castro regime continues to impose on the Cuban people, and the ways in which the government continues to oppress, harass and discriminate against its own citizens. Antúnez also discussed his concerns that people to people travel provides money to the Castro regime, but does not offer U.S. citizens any real opportunities to engage with average Cuban citizens or members of the opposition.
"Antúnez personifies Cuban resiliency. He stands steadfast in the face of great opposition and is unwavering in the fight to bring democracy to Cuba," said Menendez. "He has suffered torture and abuse, intimidation and imprisonment, was jailed and beaten for simply testifying from Cuba before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee via satellite, but Antúnez refuses to be silenced by the Castro regime. Antúnez is a powerful voice for freedom in Cuba and his dedication to this fight inspires all of us to work even harder to achieve our shared goal of restoring democracy for the Cuban people."
"Antúnez is one of the bright lights of Cuba's democracy movement, and one of its most courageous leaders who deserves our continued support," said Rubio. "The United States should stand on his side, along with all the Cuban people demanding their God-given freedoms. America's role should be to provide Cuba's democracy movement with moral support, promote greater access to uncensored information among Cubans in the island, and deprive the Castro regime of funding for its repressive apparatus through misguided policies such as the 'people to people' program that encourages American tourism to this imprisoned island. I thank Antúnez for continuing to share his story with the world and encourage him to continue doing so, knowing that his efforts are destined to eventually result in a free Cuba. Knowing the Castro regime will want to punish Antúnez for this trip, it is critical that we monitor his eventual return to Cuba and demand his and his family's safety."
"Mr. Antúnez wants Americans to know that human rights and basic freedoms still are being denied the people of Cuba," said Nelson. "His visit to our country is meant to be a reminder that we must continue our efforts to bring democracy to the Cuban people."
Earlier this year, the Senators met with Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez and Ladies in White Leader Berta Soler.