Cuba Democracy Caucus Briefing

Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Dear Colleague:
 
In the last months, Cuba has received a great deal of attention, yet often the everyday battles of the island's political activists go unnoticed in the United States.  The Cuban regime currently holds hundreds of prisoners of conscience in its jails and routinely denies basic human rights to people throughout the island.
 
Please join us for an informative briefing featuring Berta Antunez, a human rights activist and sister of Cuban political prisoner and pro-democracy activist Jorge Luis García Pérez (popularly known as "Antúnez"). An Afro-Cuban now in his 40's, Antunez was first imprisoned while he was in high school because of his support for democratic principles and his opposition to totalitarianism.  For 17 years, Antunez was regularly tortured and beaten as a prisoner of conscience in Castro's prisons.  Despite this merciless torture, Antunez has refused to be silenced by even the most repressive tactics of the Cuban regime.  On February 17, Antúnez began a hunger stri! ke to protest the oppression of the Castro regime.  He specifically demanded an end to the physical and psychological torture of all Cuban political prisoners.  In response, state security agents surrounded his house.  Amnesty International reported that he, his wife and the other brave Cubans that have joined his protest are in "grave danger."
 
After witnessing the abuses committed against her brother and other prisoners of conscience in Cuba's prisons, Berta Antunez became a human rights activist in her own right.  She helped to form the Movimiento Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Pedro Luis Boitel ("National Movement of Civic Resistance Pedro Luis Boitel"), an organization created in 1992 by families of political prisoners to highlight the cruel treatment of Cuba's political prisoners.  Their organization has pledged to fight for their release and to continue to bring international attention to their degrading maltreatment.
 
The briefing will take place at 9:00AM on Thursday, May 7 in 2456 Rayburn HOB.  We hope that you can join us for this important briefing which will include updates on Antunez's condition and insight into the realities of life in totalitarian Cuba.
 
Sincerely,
 
Albio Sires
Lincoln Diaz-Balart