On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere (chaired by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)) held a hearing entitled: “Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba.”
The first panel to testify before the Subcommittee was made up of: Roberta S. Jacobson, (Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State) and Tomasz Malinowski (Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State).
The second panel was made up of: Ms. Rosa Maria Payá (Cuban Christian Liberation Movement and Daughter of Slain Dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas), Ms. Berta Soler (President, Cuban Ladies in White), Ms. Miriam Leiva (Human Rights Activist and Independent Journalist, Havana, Cuba), and Mr. Manuel Cuesta Morúa (Spokesperson for Progressive Arc and Coordinator of New Country, Havana, Cuba).
Among the news that came out at this hearing was an announcement by Mr. Morúa that Cuban human rights activists planned to host parallel summits in Havana and Panama for Cuban-Americans and Cubans to air their visions for a democratic Cuba. He indicated that he had met with Cuban-Americans from Miami, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela stated recently that the doors “are open” for Cuban dissidents to potentially attend a key forum during the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Panama in April 2015.
Another news of interest is the differentiation made by the panelists from the U.S. State Department between “the restoration of diplomatic relations” and the “normalization of relations” between the United States and Communist Cuba.
Ms. Berta Soler was the only member of the second panel that spoke in support of TV and Radio Martí.
According to the State Department’s Malinowski, the Cuban Government has undertaken 140 new detentions of human rights dissidents since December 17, 2014.
Senator Rubio’s questions for the first panel are found in slots 49:51 through 58:46 and slots 1:50:48 through 1:55:30. Senator Menendez’ questions are found in slots 1:14:39 through 1:21:37, and slots 2:01:51 through 2:06:26.
The testimonies of the second panel start at slot 2:11:00, while the question-and-answer session starts at slot 3:12:20.
To listen to the hearing, click on http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/understanding-the-impact-of-us-policy-changes-on-human-rights-and-democracy-in-cuba (Note that the hearing starts at slot 23:50).