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Public Statements

A Voice for the Cuban Dissidents

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. RIVERA. Mr. Speaker, ahead of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Cuba next week, Cuban authorities detained about 70 members of the dissident group Ladies in White over the weekend, including 36 on Sunday morning as they attempted to attend mass.

The Ladies in White demonstrate peacefully in solidarity with their loved ones who were jailed during the Black Spring government crackdown 9 years ago. In recent days, the nonviolent efforts of the Ladies in White have been met with the beatings and detentions that have become synonymous with the Castro tyrants. Given that this is occurring on the eve of the Pope's visit, these events are disgraceful and should be universally condemned.

Hopefully, during his visit to Cuba next month, Pope Benedict will meet with dissent leaders like the Ladies in White and Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who has publicly called on the Pope to engage them. By doing so, Pope Benedict will give voice to those who long for freedom and speak out in the face of brutal repercussions, and he will give hope to those who risk their lives so that one day Cuba may be free.

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