Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) released the following statement after another American celebrity is used as propaganda by a brutal dictatorship:
"Dennis Rodman was rightly criticized for failing to acknowledge the unjust imprisonment of a U.S. citizen and numerous political prisoners and serving as a propaganda prop and apologist to the totalitarian dictatorship in North Korea. Similarly, last April, Shawn Carter ("Jay-Z') traveled to Cuba, a state sponsor of terrorism, and did not call for the release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned since December 2009. Furthermore, Jay-Z did not show any regard for fellow rapper Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga ("El Critico de Arte'), a pro-democracy activist who has been languishing in poor health in a Cuban prison since March 2013. In November, when El Critico was near death in prison, my colleagues and I wrote a letter asking Jay-Z to say something which may have helped him. We have yet to receive a response to this letter." said Congressman Diaz-Balart.
"I urge celebrities such as Rodman, Jay-Z and Beyonce to speak out for those who wish to express themselves freely yet are unable to do so because they live under dictatorships. In Cuba, artists continue to be jailed and their right to freedom of speech is impaired due to the tyrannical regime. Where is the international solidarity for these frustrated artists? Jay-Z and Beyonce should use their fame to ensure others can make contributions to sports, music and the arts and enjoy the same freedoms that we treasure in our nation. The presence and engagement of Rodman, Jay-Z and Beyonce with these repressive regimes only provides a gilded patina to decrepit tyrants instead of concentrating on helping those who are oppressed," said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen.
"Freedom of expression and assembly without reprisal are amongst the liberties that can be most taken for granted by individuals that exercise them freely -- be they artists, authors, or players of sport. They are also amongst the basic rights and liberties unknown and denied to the Cuban people by the Castro dictatorial regime. It is unfortunate that any conscionable person with the rights to these freedoms can turn a blind eye when facing outright repression and disregard for basic human rights," said Congressman Sires.
See the full letter here.
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