In an urgent appeal hand-delivered to Secretary Hillary Clinton this afternoon at a recess in the Longworth Building of the U.S. House of Representatives, Frank Calzon, Director of the Center for a Free Cuba, asked former Senator and Secretary of State Clinton for her “personal assistance” in convincing the Castro regime to stop its brutal attacks on Cuban dissidents and to grant amnesty to all political prisoners.
The appeal also asked Secretary Clinton to push for the release of three Cubans who have been held incommunicado since Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba. The Cubans gave the Argentine pope a flyer asking for his support for human rights in Cuba.
Having been in the hot seat all day in a congressional hearing about her response to the 9/11/2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Lybia, Mrs. Clinton has yet to respond to this request.
Here’s the text of the hand-delivered letter:
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I am writing to ask for your personal assistance to bring to an end the beatings, abuse, and detentions of Cuban women (the Ladies in White) whose only crime is to attend mass every Sunday at the Santa Rita Church in Havana, dressed in white in an effort to convince General Raul Castro to decree a general amnesty for all Cuban political prisoners. For several months now, these women have been dragged to prison and abused. I am including photographs of this outrage.
We believe, and many members of Cuba’s democratic opposition on the island also believe, that if you and President Obama were to call on General Raul Castro to end these beatings, as well as the use of rapid deployment brigades to abuse dissidents and their families, the use of physical violence against peaceful Cuban demonstrators might be stopped.
I am also writing to request that you urge General Raul Castro to release without further delay three Cubans who dared to approach the Holy Father during his visit to Cuba to give him a flyer asking for his support for human rights on the island. Their names are Zaqueo Baez Guerrero, Ismael Bonet Rene and María Josefa Acón Sardinas. All of them have been held incommunicado at the infamous 100 y Aldabó prison in Havana. They have yet to be presented in court and Amnesty International has called for their release.
At a time when so much is being written about the new relationship between the Cuban government and the United States, we pray that, despite your many responsibilities and the race for the presidency, you will find time to do what you can to help these Cubans who share your devotion to freedom and human rights.
Thank you in advance for your help on this matter.
Executive Director, Center for a Free Cuba