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realclearworld

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen questions State Department’s decision to issue visas to Castro propagandists

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the State Department to provide information documenting the issuance of visas to a Cuban theater group in the U.S. that is engaged in lobbying congress and disseminating Castro propaganda.

Here is the text of the letter:

October 17, 2011

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521

Dear Secretary Clinton:

I am gravely concerned that the Department of State is funding educational and cultural exchange programs with the Cuban regime that undermine U.S. foreign policy priorities and national security interests. This raises serious questions about the Department's use of taxpayer funds and implementation of U.S. law.

A case in point is the decision by the Department of State to grant a visa under the educational and cultural exchange program to a Cuban youth group called La Colmenita to glorify those Cuban agents who spied against our nation on behalf of the Cuban regime, a sworn enemy of the United States. According to the organization, the children perform a play named Abracadabra, which according to them was "inspired by the story of the Cuban Five, who are hailed as national heroes in Cuba for their efforts to prevent militant Cuban exile groups from attacking Cuban citizens."

On June 29, 2011, I wrote a letter to you urging the administration to reverse its current policy and suspend all educational and cultural exchanges with the Cuban regime pursuant to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 because according to U.S. law, Tier 3 countries cannot receive funding to participate in educational and cultural exchange programs.

Regrettably, President Obarna, once again, granted a partial waiver for Cuba to allow funding for educational and cultural exchanges, ignoring the complicity of the Cuban dictatorship in the trafficking and victimization of young women to promote the regime's disgusting sex tourism. Granting visas to an organization that is promoting convicted spies as heroes is an insult to all the victims of the dictatorship. These Cuban spies were sent to the United States to carry out illicit operations against our homeland. The Cuban Five were convicted for espionage activities as well as their involvement in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down, which led to the death of four innocent individuals over international waters.

I request that the Department immediately provide the Committee on Foreign Affairs:

(1) the justification for granting these visas to this organization and (2) a detailed accounting of all funding for educational programs with Cuba. In the interim, as anyone involved in cultural and educational exchanges are employees of, or proxies, for the Castro regime, I would urge the Administration to suspend all educational and cultural exchanges with the Cuban regime, in furtherance of U.S. law, and the priorities outlined therein.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Sincerely,
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN
Chairman

A PDF of the original letter is available HERE.

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