This week, Cuban officials are in New York for United Nations meetings. In Florida, members of the congressional delegation are sharing their thoughts on how the United States should move forward with the communist regime, and 4 lawmakers have joined a bipartisan effort to write to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel visiting the U.S. for said UN meetings.
Republican lawmakers Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart joined Democrat Albio Sires in the letter, expressing “our profound concern regarding press reports of an upcoming visit to the United States by an estimated eighteen Cuban regime operatives, including its titular dictator Miguel Diaz-Canel. On February 26, 2018, the undersigned members expressed profound concern regarding the difficulty that Cuban pro-democracy and human rights advocates face when requesting U.S. entry. In the March 26, 2018 response to this letter, we were informed that, ‘In the case of Cuban officials, those visas are solely to staff their Embassy or Mission to the United Nations, or to attend meetings with U.S. officials consistent with the national security and public health priorities described in the National Security Presidential Memorandum ‘Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba’.’ However, on April 26, 2018, the undersigned members again expressed dismay that numerous pro-regime operatives received visas which gave them the ability to spread the regime’s propaganda at a major event at the Kennedy Center in May 2018. In addition, although it has been nearly a year since reduced staffing at the U.S. post in Havana, we understand that those who applied under the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) program are still awaiting review of their cases. It remains troubling that regime and pro-regime individuals seem to receive U.S. visas with relative ease, yet pro-democracy activists and others seeking to escape tyranny must face exorbitant fees, travel burdens, and significant delays when requesting U.S. entry.”
They continued explaining that “The perpetrators of some of the world’s worst human rights abusers have not earned the special privilege of U.S. entry. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation documented 219 political arrests in August, with a total of 2,024 documented political arrests through August of this year. One of the most troubling of those arrests was that of Alejandro Pupo Echemendia, whom family members and witnesses say appeared to be severely abused while in custody of the National Revolutionary Police. Meanwhile, human rights activist Dr. Eduardo Cardet has remained unjustly imprisoned since November 2016 for his expressions of opposition to the regime in Cuba. In addition, the Cuban regime continues to assist in subverting democracy in Venezuela and Nicaragua, and failed to uphold the Vienna Convention’s mandate to protect foreign diplomats and their families stationed in Havana from debilitating attacks.”
Finally, they concluded that “Accordingly, and within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge you to carefully weigh the advisability, given the president’s policy of supporting the democratic opposition and the limited consular services available, of providing U.S. entry to representatives of the brutal, anti-American regime in Cuba. U.S. entry is an extraordinary privilege, and should not be used to reward a brutal dictatorship while simultaneously marginalizing those that the regime attempts to silence. Perversely, the reduction in staff due to the attacks on U.S. personnel in Cuba appear to be serving the regime’s interests in crippling consular services and outreach to the Cuban people. Meanwhile, the regime’s ability to spread its propaganda and anti-American activities is relatively unimpeded. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to reconsider providing visas to representatives of a regime that oppresses its people while aiding America’s adversaries.”