Diaz-Balart: Obama's Trip to Cuba is Latest Addition to Litany of Concessions to Dictators
WASHINGTON -- Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement in response to reports that President Obama would be announcing a March trip to Cuba.
"Regrettably, President Obama's planned travel to Cuba is hardly a surprise. Instead, it is the latest addition to the litany of concessions to dictators that have come to characterize this administration. The Castro brothers continue to harbor more than seventy fugitives from U.S. justice including 'Most Wanted Terrorist' Joanne Chesimard, Charles Hill and William Morales, smuggle weapons with North Korea and China, and even invited Hezbollah to establish a stronghold within its borders.
"While campaigning for President, Senator Obama promised in Miami that, 'I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations.' Obviously, he has abandoned that commitment. And last year, he said that his trip to Cuba would be conditioned on an improvement in human rights. That if 'we're seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans, I'd love to use a visit as a way of highlighting that progress... I'm not interested in validating the status quo.' Yet in 2015, political arrests totaled more than 8,000 and political activists Danilo Maldonado Machado 'El Sexto', Vladimir Morera Bacallao, and Misael Canet Velazquez languished near death in Castro's gulag. Cuba remains the only country in the Americas to be classified as 'Not Free' by Freedom House. By any objective measure, the Castro regime has not improved its human rights record. Neither has it unclenched its fist.
"During his time in Cuba, President Obama should at least meet with those who risk their lives in the struggle for freedom and who have suffered most as a result of his policy of appeasement. He should meet with activists such as Berta Soler and the Ladies in White, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez 'Antunez' and his wife Yris Tamara Aguilera, Danilo Maldonado Machado 'El Sexto', and Antonio Rodiles.
"The Cuban people will be free. Unfortunately, they will do so in spite of President Obama's alliance with their oppressors."