House Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman
For IMMEDIATE Release – March 23, 2012
Ahead of Pope’s Visit to Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen Thanks Fellow Members of Congress for Sending Letter Urging Pope to Meet Cuban Human Rights Activists
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commended the leadership of Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) and other Congressional colleagues for sending a letter to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, urging him to meet with Cuban human rights activists during his trip to Cuba on March 26- 28. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“In the face of increasing harassment and persecution by the Castro regime, Cuban democracy supporters bravely continue to peacefully advocate for democracy and human rights. My fellow colleagues have sent a message to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, requesting that he meet with some members of the Cuban internal opposition next week. These brave Cuban leaders are the voices of freedom and democracy and desperately need our support more than ever.
“The growing instances of human rights abuses, daily harassment by Cuban officials, and denied access to church services are facts that cannot be ignored. The Castro Brothers will undoubtedly present a distorted view of Cuba so it is imperative that Cuban people have the opportunity to convey a glimpse of the harsh reality of life under the oppressive Castro regime.
“I thank my colleagues for their support in this effort. I would also like to thank Rafael Yániz, a recent graduate of the University of Florida, for his active role in bringing attention to Cuban dissidents ahead of the Pope’s visit to Cuba.”
NOTE: In addition to Rep. Buerkle, signatories on the letter include: U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL), Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).