Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pelosi, Dems silent on latest political arrests during Cuba visit

Pelosi, Dems silent on latest political arrests during Cuba visit
Feb. 18, 2015 11:32am Pete Kasperowicz

A delegation of House Democrats visiting Cuba this week had nothing to
say about a new wave of political arrests on the island, which prompted
more criticism that the Obama administration has jettisoned human and
political rights issues in an effort to quickly restore diplomatic
relations with the Castro regime.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led the delegation of
Democrats to Cuba, and said her visit was an effort to build upon
President Barack Obama's December decision to normalize relations with
Cuba. Pelosi acknowledged on Tuesday that her visit would on economic
issues, not human rights issues.

"This delegation travels to Cuba in friendship and to build upon the
announcement of U.S. normalization of relations and other initiatives
announced by President Obama," she said Tuesday. "This delegation will
work to advance the U.S.-Cuba relationship and build on the work done by
many in the Congress over the years, especially with respect to
agriculture and trade."

But as many have feared, these efforts don't seem to include any effort
to push Cuba to commit to higher human rights standards. Cuba has
arrested dozens of political dissidents in the last week, but there were
no signs that House Democrats were raising these issues with Cuban

As of Wednesday morning, none of the Democrats on the trip had tweeted
anything about the arrests, and Pelosi's Twitter account had just one
tweet of her positing with U.S. Marines at the U.S. Interests Section in

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) told TheBlaze that Cuba often tries to
get policymakers to fall in love with Cuba, in order to hide that its
government is a communist dictatorship that is an 'avowed enemy of our

"There is no freedom of expression in the state controlled media in
Cuba, so we cannot allow ourselves to fall for the ruse of the Castro
regime that only uses trips as a political propaganda coup for their own
sadistic purposes and emboldens its spy network to undermine our
national security," she said.

"In the last week, almost 100 people have been arrested by Castro's
thugs and more arrests will continue right under the nose of the State
Department who continues its misguided talks with the regime while
failing to prioritize the cause of human rights," she added.

When Obama announced his new policy toward Cuba, he said Cuba had agreed
to release 53 political prisoners. But both Republican and Democratic
supporters of the embargo noted that some of those released were quickly

Many others have noted that the administration appears to be
uninterested in securing the release of Americans who fled to Cuba in
order to escape prosecution in the United States. State Department
officials have said only that they have asked Cuba for the release of
these fugitives, but that Cuba does not want them released.

Despite the lack of progress on these issues, the State Department has
indicated that it still wants to see normal diplomatic relations with
Cuba in a matter of months, even as Cuba has said this can only happen
when the U.S. lifts the embargo completely and compensates Cuba for the
economic damage the sanctions have caused.

Source: Pelosi, Dems silent on latest political arrests during Cuba
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