Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) questions NJ legislators’ junket to apartheid Cuba


Menendez questions N.J. legislators’ trip to Cuba

bob menendez

ASBURY PARK — U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez on Sunday questioned a recent trip 10 state lawmakers made to Cuba, expressing concern that anyone would conduct business with that government’s dictatorship.

“Look, I don’t know what their itinerary was but the reality is when I hear people talking about business with Cuba … it seems to me like the highest priority should be about human rights and democracy,” Menendez (D-N.J.) told NJ Advance Media after a news conference in Asbury Park about offshore oil drilling.

An outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s Cuba policy, Menendez said he’s spent time talking to Cuban citizens and exiles who’ve told him conditions there haven’t improved for the Cuban people.

He questioned whether the lawmakers on the trip did the same

“So, I don’t know whether that was any part of it, but I doubt they met with human rights activists, political dissidents and independent journalists,” he said.

State Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said he only learned about the visit from critics who saw a story in a Cuban government-owned news website

The Assembly did not sanction the trip, state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson) previously told NJ Advance Media. Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) said everyone who attended the $2,000 trip paid with their own money, and made arrangements directly with a tour company run by the Cuban government.

Given the Castro regime and its refusal to hand over convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, Menendez wondered why anyone would pick Cuba as a destination.

“Of all the places in the world you could go to try and create good relations and business opportunities, Cuba is just not one at this time because you have a regime that is unrepentant, unwilling to open up, unwilling to permit basic human rights and democracy, and one that if you want to do business with, you’re going to do business with an oppressive regime,” said Menendez, whose parents left the communist country.

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