U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on reports that several pro-democracy advocates, including Berta Soler of the Ladies in White and Jose Daniel Ferrer of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU in Spanish), were arrested by agents of the Castro regime. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Days after dictator Raul Castro warned about a "subversive campaign' on the island, more than a dozen pro-democracy advocates including Berta Soler and Jose Daniel Ferrer were arrested by Castro's thugs. The campaign that the tyrant is afraid of is the one waged by opposition leaders that is based on respect for human rights, multiparty elections, and freedom of expression aimed at creating an open society for the people living under the repressive regime on the island. These arrests again demonstrate that, 55 years later, this brutal dictatorship remains committed to maintaining a bloody grip over the island, denying basic human rights and democratic freedoms to 11 million Cubans.
"Berta and Jose are fearless leaders who risk their lives every day working to bring freedom to Cuba, but they need to know that responsible nations stand with them against the criminal Castro regime. Rather than continue to offer concessions which only bolster the regime's strength and prolongs its authoritarian rule over those who seek liberty, our government must condemn this repression in the strongest possible terms and lend a voice to those who yearn for justice and dignity. I also call on the international media to shine a spotlight on the constant human rights abuses on the island and publicize the brutality of this regime."