May 16, 2012
State Department’s Apparent Open Door Policy For Senior Cuban Regime Officials & Activists ‘Dangerous’, Says Ros-Lehtinen
Concerned Department is Seeking to Hide Such Travel from Congress
(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement today on the Department of State’s role in facilitating potential travel to the United States by Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, and the State Department’s refusal to honor a long standing agreement with Ros-Lehtinen and the Committee on Foreign Affairs concerning travel of Cuban regime officials.
“I am greatly concerned by reports that the State Department has granted a visa to dictator Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, to attend an event in the United States next week. Mariela Castro is a communist regime sympathizer who has labeled Cuban dissidents as ‘parasites.’ Reports that Eusebio Leal, tasked by the regime to expand tourism to the island under the guise of serving as historian of Havana, is also being granted a visa to travel to the U.S. also raises alarm. If confirmed, Castro’s and Leal’s travel would be the most recent in a disturbing pattern that is developing where the doors of the U.S. are opened to officials and activists of this state-sponsor of terrorism.
Why the State Department would issue a visa to Mariela Castro or Eusebio Leal to come to the U.S. and spew the Castro propaganda is beyond comprehension. Not only has the Castro dictatorship trampled on the human rights of its people, Cuba is a State Sponsor of Terrorism with an active and well-documented espionage network operating in and against the U.S. Granting travel and access to the U.S. by high-level regime officials is dangerous and counterproductive to our foreign policy and national security interests.
And now, we are faced with the possibility that State may seek to thwart Congressional oversight over decisions regarding travel by Cuban regime officials. It is my hope the Department will continue to honor a long-standing agreement with me on behalf of the House Foreign Affairs Committee requiring notification of State actions concerning travel by Cuban regime officials. This agreement established in 1997 was adopted in lieu of a legislative mandate I had included in funding legislation and was honored by successive Administrations.
I urge the Department of State to reject these visa requests by regime operatives Mariela Castro and Eusebio Leal and abide by its commitments to cooperate with our Foreign Affairs Committee as we seek to exercise due diligence and oversight.”