Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on U.S. Taxpayer-sponsored junkets to Cuba
Via Capitol Hill Cubans:
Taxpayer-Sponsored Cuba Trips
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the following statement on the Smithsonian Institution’s, a taxpayer-funded entity, upcoming trips to Cuba under a so-called People-to-People Cultural Exchange Program:
“The Smithsonian's 10-day trips to Cuba will amount to little more than a tropical vacation. Americans participating in these trips will not see the brutal reality of the Castro dictatorship. They will not be visiting run down hospitals where sick Cubans have to bring their own bed sheets and medications, nor will they have the opportunity to sit in a court room where peaceful pro-democracy advocates are sentenced because due process and a real judicial system are non-existent.
The nature of the Smithsonian's upcoming trips to Cuba becomes clear merely by looking at the ad promoting it. The ad fails to mention that Cuba is a state-sponsor of terrorism or that Castro's thugs repeatedly and routinely beat and harass the innocent Ladies in White while they peacefully march down a street. It does not mention that an American citizen is being held hostage by the regime simply for seeking to lift the veil of censorship that the dictatorship imposes on the Cuban people.
Americans will not be able to interact with a typical Cuban family as they conduct their daily desperate search for food, stop by a dormant newspaper's office that no longer operates because there is no freedom of the press, or visit the ever-growing prisons where countless political prisoners languish in their cells for exercising freedom of expression. These are the real cultural experiences in Cuba. Instead, these tourists will experience a false depiction of Cuba through a biased and censored 'tour' of the island.
It is deeply disappointing that the Smithsonian Institute, primarily funded by American taxpayers, is facilitating access to U.S. dollars, which enables the Castro regime to make a hefty profit. The trips not only illustrate a blatant disregard for human rights conditions on the island by an entity that receives U.S. government funding, but provide the deplorable Havana tyranny a sense of legitimacy.”