Friday, September 23, 2011

Cuban-American lawyers from Miami bring 'lady in white' to Capitol Hill

Cuban-American lawyers from Miami bring 'lady in white' to Capitol Hill

To highlight the plight of political dissenters in Cuba, the Cuban
American Bar Association brought one of the founders of the Ladies in
White to Washington Thursday to discuss human rights violations on the

Josefa López Peña spoke at a briefing -- largely for staffers and
reporters -- in a House committee room alongside Reps. Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen, David Rivera, Mario Diaz-Balart, all Cuban-American
Republicans from Miami, and Rep. Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat who
is also Cuban-American.

Lopez Peña, wearing white, told about founding the group of wives and
mothers of political prisoners after her husband, Miguel Sigler Tamayo,
and his two brothers, Ariel and Guido, were arrested in 2003. (The three
have since been released and are in exile.)

"Those are the true heroes," she said, in Spanish, of prisoners and
dissidents still fighting the Castro regime on the island. Rivera
translated. "The people are joining this opposition."
The discussion included a phone call to a human-rights lawyer in Cuba
who works for legal reform.

"We will have to play an important role" in a free Cuba, René Gómez
Manzano said in English through a choppy connection, "and we are ready
and willing to do so."

The Cuban-American lawyers association, based in Miami, said it plans to
release annual reports of any legal changes in Cuba on the human rights

With much talk about whether the revolts of the so-called Arab Spring in
Tunisia and Egypt could spread to other regimes like Cuba, the purpose
of the briefing was to keep Cuba on the forefront of foreign affairs
topics discussed in Congress.

"The world is watching elsewhere," Ros-Lehtinen said. "I hope that some
focus will soon be put on Cuba."

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