|Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Photo: Foreign Policy|
Ros-Lehtinen, who is chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said:
U.S. democracy promotion programs in Cuba advance our foreign policy goals of helping to bring freedom to the Cuban people and to facilitate a transition to democracy. It is regrettable that Senator Kerry would block continued funding for these efforts.Earlier, on May 24, Ros-Lehtinen sent a letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton expressing her support for democracy programs in Cuba. She wrote:
Senator Kerry has suggested that U.S. democracy promotion programs provoked the Cuban regime into wrongfully imprisoning a U.S. citizen who was helping the Cuban people overcome the dictatorship’s censorship. I believe this demonstrates a lack of understanding of the brutal nature of the Havana tyranny. It is my hope that Senator Kerry will reconsider his position.
There is no question that the need and importance of these programs remains vital in today’s Cuba. Despite recycled reports of reform, the Havana regime continues to wage a daily war of oppression and brutality upon the Cuban people....
It is not spring breakers and sex tourists whom are raising awareness and deepening solidarity with the people of Cuba. Rather, it is the targeted approach of U.S. democracy promotion programs which helps the voice of the Cuban people to grow stronger each day.
The struggle of the Cuban people is no less deserving of our support than the peaceful activists we stood by in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, South Africa, and today in the Middle East and North Africa.