From Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

The following is a transcript of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s remarks at the Western Hemisphere Sucommittee Hearing; “Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba”:

Remarks for the Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Cuba Commission Report Hearing

Thursday, July 27, 2006, 2:00 p.m.
2172 RHOB

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this important meeting on the “Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.”

This report comes at a critical juncture in our efforts to support the Cuban people in their struggle for democratic transition.

It is with great pleasure to see my dear friend Caleb McCarry, with whom I have worked so closely over many years, on our shared goal of ending Castro’s tyrannical regime and establishing a free and democratic Cuba.

Thank you for your valuable support on this issue when you worked for Chairman Hyde on the International Relations Committee and for continuing this mission in your current position as the State Department’s Transition Coordinator for Cuba.

In particular, I want to thank you for coordinating this week’s briefing on the Classified Annex of the report.

I, along with my fellow Members of the Committee who attended this briefing, are extremely pleased with what we heard and read, and are looking forward to the full implementation of the classified recommendations.

Please let us know how we can be helpful.

To reiterate, I am gratified by the Administration’s commitment to a Democratic Transition in Cuba.

The second report, issued by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, underscores the role of the U.S. in supporting the Cuban people to free themselves from the ruthless dictator and his equally oppressive proxies.

We are in a supportive role as the Cuban people reclaim their rights and sovereignty from a dictator who sells out the Cuban nation to other pariah states; who traffics Cuban women and children for tourism dollars.

Almost half a century of tyrannical rule could not break the spirit of the Cuban people.

Since the publication of the first Commission report, the voice of the people has grown stronger, their commitment has remained firm, their courage has strengthened.

Despite increasing intimidation practices of the ruthless dictator, opposition forces on the island are ready for:

A democratic government to replace the cruel dictatorship;

Freedom to replace torture, persecution, and oppression;

A free market economy to replace a collapsing planned economic system.

And the United States will provide its unwavering support to the Cuban “freedom fighters” in their fight for democracy, liberty, and an open market system.

Therefore, undermining Castro’s succession strategy presents a key component of U.S. policy and, in turn, the Commission’s report.

As he approaches the age of 80, Fidel Castro’s time is wearing thin.

Anticipating his demise, Castro is plotting a “succession strategy” whereby his brother Raul, the so-called head of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, would continue the regime’s iron grip.

Further, in order to maintain absolute power over all aspects of Cuba’s social, economic, and political life, Castro is also establishing ever-closer ties with the equally oppressive leaders of Venezuela, Iran, and Syria.

The report, there advocates a diplomatic campaign to build international consensus for free and fair elections in Cuba that includes bilateral agreements with European nations and democracies in the Western Hemisphere, OAS members, the Community of Democracies, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the ILO.

In addition to creating a coalition of democratic nations to support the aspirations of democratic forces in Cuba, the Commission also recognizes the role that former Communist countries can play in promoting Cuba’s democratic transition.

By contrast, the Castro regime, with the help of other rogue states, seeks to gain the financial and energy resources to insulate Cuba from internal and international pressure for democratic transition.

This regime, which once served as a proxy of the Soviet Union, now increasingly threatens our national security interests in the region-this regime must end.

The aging tyrant must not be allowed to continue his cruel legacy.

As recommended by the Commission, vigorous enforcement of Title I of the Helms-Burton Act constitutes another fundamental piece in our policy towards the Cuban dictatorship.

By tightening the embargo, we deny the authoritarian dictator, the resources to keep its stranglehold on power, and help bring about a peaceful transition to a representative democracy and market economy in Cuba.

Yet, we must ensure that during a transition political protocol is returned to the Cuban people so that they may, once and for all, control their own destiny.

As the report states: “Cuba’s legitimate future can only be decided by Cubans, for Cubans.”

Cubans are the driving force in ending half a decade of oppression on the island.

Therefore, I am very interested in hearing more about this crucial component of the Commission’s report.

But let these not only be words.

We must ensure that the recommendations outlined in this report are translated into action-a concrete mandate-rather than just words.

Again, I want to thank this Committee for holding and our panelist and friend Caleb McCarry for attending today’s hearing on the Cuba Commission’s Second Report.

So, what are your thoughts?

3 thoughts on “From Ileana Ros-Lehtinen”

  1. Well I guess the juiciest part is the part where she mentions the classified annex to the report. Hopefully there’s some teeth in that that aren’t found in the up-front part.

  2. Conductor,
    My thoughts exactly unless there is something special, which I doubt, its the same ol’ same ol’.
    “We are in a supportive role ” Lame at best.
    I left Cuba too young to know how to say blah blah blah in Spanish. Anyone know how?

  3. Its a lot of rhetoric and nothing concrete. I would like to read some specific details of how the US plans on disrupting the leadership transition in Cuba. It appears to be buried in the classified portion.

    Sadly, I fear that the transition will be violent. How far will Raul Castro and the military go to maintain control when the central figure in their cult of personality finally dies? I just hope change comes before my last grandparent dies or succumbs to senility. 🙁

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