U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement on the release of the State Department's 2012 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, which details the continuing human rights violations and oppression occurring in Venezuela and Cuba. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"It is sad though not at all surprising that the State Department's latest "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices' shows that human rights and democratic principles continue to be assaulted by the regimes in Venezuela and Cuba. The men who rule these countries share not only a hatred for the United States and the ideals it stands for, but as this report illustrates, also a dangerous contempt for human dignity and a free society.
"This report details the "record number of politically motivated' detentions that occurred in Cuba in 2012. This is in addition to the many abuses of human rights that the Castro regime is well known for. This report confirms yet again what we already know: the tyrant Raul Castro was never interested in bringing real change to the island, as some foolishly believe, but rather is committed to maintaining total control while ignoring the true interests and needs of the Cuban people. The regime continues its campaign against those who bravely call for democracy and freedom for the island, and it relentlessly attacks its opposition -- many of whom find themselves cast away in one of Castro's many gulags.
"The report also confirms how Hugo Chavez operated directly from Castros' playbook in Venezuela, where institutions such as the media and the judicial system were blatantly abused to give Chavez and his cronies an unfair advantage over the opposition. In light of these facts, we need to be clear about the threat that is posed not only to the peaceful opposition, but to democracy, by Nicolas Maduro and his Chavista loyalists.
"The dictators of these countries must know that they cannot continue grossly disregarding human rights without facing consequences. Now more than ever, as the people of Venezuela yearn to turn a new chapter in which freedom can flourish, they must know the United States and responsible nations stand behind them in the fight against tyranny. And equally important is the need to reaffirm our commitment to bringing true democratic change to Cuba. I hope that this report helps awaken our collective conscience to do the right thing by the people of these oppressed countries who continue to fight for liberty and dignity. "