by Bettina Inclan | April 9, 2009 10:54 am
The Miami Herald put it best, describing the Congressional delegation to Cuba as “The Clueless Seven.” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), was joined by fellow members for a six day “fact finding mission” to the communist island.
I am not sure exactly what they were fact finding, but it definitely wasn’t the truth about Cuba. The group enjoyed a tour of the island. They found time to bond with the communist dictators, Castro #1 and #2. They even showed their sympathy for the family of the “Cuban Five,” the group convicted of espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, and other illegal activities against the United States of America.
Yet the CBC, who prides itself for championing civil rights in the U.S., couldn’t find a moment to meet with any of the hundreds of political prisoners on the island. They did not call for free elections, to allow unions, strengthening civil rights, freedom for journalists or equality for Afro-Cubans. In fact, several of the members thought meeting with dissidents would be rude and preferred to praise the Castro brothers instead.
The delegation itself admitted discussions on human rights with Cuban officials were “limited.” On this issue Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said, “You don’t go into someone’s house and insult them.” (Interesting, the Cuban government tramples into people’s homes, insults them, and much more on a pretty regular basis…)
Florida Senator Mel Martinez put it best saying, “Regardless of one’s position on U.S. Cuba policy, one would expect that any U.S .official or member of Congress visiting Cuba would have the courage to meet with members of Cuba’s struggling independent civil society and raise concerns about the regime’s systematic violation of human rights with Cuban officials.”
For God’s sake, even the Washington Post is calling out the CBC Seven.
The best way I can describe the actions of these members is “embarrassing!”
First, I am embarrassed as an American that elected officials of this great nation can be so hypocritical on civil rights and basic freedoms for human beings. What they support in Cuba, they would never stand for here in the U.S. These members must be caught up in some romantic illusion about the revolutionary leader and his cult of personality.
My grandfather was a Cuban political prisoner. If he were still alive he would tell you there is nothing “romantic” of the Cuban Revolution. For 14 years he was tortured in Cuban jails because he dared to express his political views. Thousands have died at the hands of the Castro regime and yet not one of these seven members of Congress could recognize their existence.
I am embarrassed for the rest of the Congress and the CBC. I wholeheartedly believe they can’t all agree with these seven. It’s unfortunate that in their capacity as representatives of the United States of America, they seemed to be more concerned about vacationing in Cuba than human suffering and the plight of Afro-Cubans.
Cuba’s jail population is about 80 percent black and its government hierarchy is almost completely ruled by aging white men. Only 10 percent of the Communist Party’s central committee is black, even though the majority of the country’s population is Afro-Cuban or mixed race.
Cuba’s most prominent prisoners of conscience are Afro-Cubans. Oscar Elias Biscet, a doctor serving 25 years in prison, was inspired by the peaceful resistance of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jorge Luis ”AntÃºnez” Garcia,, currently on hunger strike, has been singled out because of the color of his skin. He has been called Cuba’s Nelson Mandela. His wife founded the Rosa Parks Women’s Civil Rights Movement in honor of the American civil rights hero, hoping they will have similar success in their island nation.
So where is the outrage of the Congressional Black Caucus for the total lack of civil rights and misrepresentation of Afro-Cubans? When will the press conference be held demanding justice and equality, requiring an end to the Cuban apartheid?
I am guessing I shouldn’t hold my breath?
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) was asked by reporters why the delegation didn’t meet with any dissidents on their trip. He basically said meeting with Cuban dissidents would be offensive to the Cuban dictatorship. He said repression didn’t exist on the island because “frankly we didn’t see it.” Anyway “the world operates at its best when there’s diversity. Every nation does not need to be like the United States.”
You’re right, Rep. Cleaver! How selfish of Cubans to want the basic civil rights enjoyed by Americans. It is fortunate that while Rep. Cleaver and the rest of the delegation can speak their mind, go as they wish, discuss the embargo and the lifting of travel restrictions for vacationing Americans, Cubans themselves are not free to travel within their own island or internationally — or speak their mind, among other things. If so, they risk going to incarceration or worse.
While the Obama Administration says “liberty” would be at the center of Cuban policy, I wonder if members of his party agree with him and on the final outcome. At the end of the day it appears that some would rather gloss over human rights violations and prefer to associate with murdering thugs who can offer them a sweet deal on a Caribbean vacation.
Both of my Cuban grandparents died before seeing a free Cuba. We pray their sacrifices were not in vain…. I pray for the members of the CBC and our leaders and hope the Almighty and our Lady of Charity enlightens their hearts with wisdom and truth. Viva Cuba Libre!
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