The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
March 19, 2012
Statement from NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor on the Detention of Members of the Damas de Blanco
The detention of members of the Damas de Blanco this weekend in Havana in the lead up to Pope Benedict’s visit underscores the disdain of Cuban authorities for the universal rights of the Cuban people. The quiet dignity of the Damas stands in stark contrast with the acts of those who are standing in the way of the basic aspirations of the Cuban people. We call for the immediate release of all who were detained and for Cuban authorities to abandon their tactics of intimidation and harassment to stifle peaceful dissent.
President Obama and the American people remain steadfast in standing with the Damas and other courageous voices in Cuban civil society who demonstrate the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their country’s future.
While I am grateful to the White House for issuing the following statement in support of the Ladies in White , I am a firm believer in Benjamin Franklin’s saying that “well done is better than well said.” Accordingly, I suggest taking some concrete measures immediately that will hit the Cuban Government officials where it hurts – their pocket books.
To show the solidarity of this country with the Ladies in White and with American hostage Alan Gross, I suggest for the White House to: a) ban all travel to Cuba during the Pope’s visit; and, b) restore the pre-2009 status quo ante on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans to Cuba.
When you are dealing with bullies like those in Raul Castro’s gang, you can’t extend an olive branch to them. If you want your measures to resonate, you have to impose “kick-them-in-the-pants” policies. The latter is the only language that they understand. Everything else gets lost in translation.