Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) released the following statement urging for solidarity with Cuban pro-democracy activists Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ("Antunez") and his wife, Yris Perez.
Diaz-Balart: "We strongly urge the Obama Administration, the European Union, and others in the international community who share a strong commitment to human rights and essential liberties, to express solidarity with Antunez, his wife Yris Perez, and other pro-democracy activists in totalitarian Cuba. The brutal oppression on the island must end. Please join us in vigorously condemning the Castro dictatorship's violence against these courageous activists and supporting those who continue to risk everything for freedom."
Ros-Lehtinen: "In order to denounce the oppressive tactics of the Castro regime, the Cuban people continue to stand up and risk their own lives for freedom. Antunez remains on a water and hunger strike demanding that his looted belongings be returned and that freedom is granted to his countrymen. The cowards of Cuba's state security thugs have surrounded and raided Antunez's home many times recently in violation of his fundamental human rights. The U.S. government and responsible nations cannot stay silent and must condemn these ongoing humiliating and degrading raids against innocent pro-democracy leaders on the island."
Antunez is one of the most well-known and unyielding pro-democracy activists in Cuba. As leader of the Orlando Zapata Tamayo National Front for Civic Resistance and Civic Disobedience, he has demanded the realization of human rights in Cuba and, as a result, has suffered seventeen years of imprisonment, harassment, beatings, and other forms of abuse. On February 5th, Castro's thugs brutally arrested Antunez, threatened him, and seized numerous items from his home. To this day, Castro's thugs continue to surround his house. Antunez is on his fourth day of a hunger and water strike to protest these egregious human rights abuses.
Repression in Cuba has increased markedly in the past few weeks. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation reports that repression in Cuba has included 1,052 political arrests in January alone. Well-known activists such as Jose Daniel Ferrer of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), Guillermo Farinas, winner of the European Parliament's Sakharov award, and Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, are just a handful of those who have been harassed, imprisoned, or placed on house arrest in the past few weeks.