The Dignity of Antunez

Thursday, May 7, 2009
Cuba Democracy Activists Chide CBC Members for Castro Meeting

Fox News
by Mosheh Oinounou

Cuban pro-democacy advocates went up to Capitol Hill Wednesday to call on legislators who recently met with former Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro to address human rights concerns on the island.

Activist Berta Antunez visited the offices of Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Laura Richardson (D-CA) where she delivered a letter written by her brother, a longtime civil rights advocate still in Cuba, accusing the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members of being "insensitive" to their cause during a trip to Cuba last month.

Antunez, who was joined by fellow activist Anolan Ponce today, is the sister of famed Cuba civil rights advocate Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez who served 18 years in prison for protesting the regime.

Lee, Richardson, and Rush were part of a six-member delegation that traveled to Cuba in April [1]where they called for the opening of US-Cuban ties and met with both Fidel and Raul Castro.

The activists accuse the delegation of refusing to meet with civil rights advocates during their trip.

"It is ironic that individuals such as yourselves, who have been elected to your positions through a democratic system, and who enjoy all human rights, do not wish the same for the Cuban people. It is undignified to use prerogatives that for us are inaccessible, such as to traveling to and from one's homeland, having an opinion without fear of persecution, or associating with others who share similar interests, and then to ignore the victims of oppression in Cuba," the letter reads.

"When we recall the fight and integrity of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, without whom you would still be giving up your seat on the bus and would not have the right to vote, we ask ourselves if the legacy of those who conquered the space of opportunity that you enjoy today, has been reserved only for political speeches and has ceased to be a commitment of your generation to justice and truth," they continued.

Upon arrival at Lee's office, Berta Antunez and Ponce met with a legislative aide for the California congresswoman.

"I came to deliver a letter to the congresswoman from my brother which expresses the insult of the pro-democracy movement on the island that just kilometers away from where they were meeting with Fidel and Raul Castro that my brother and other pro-democracy activists in Cuba were being assaulted with tear gas and were being subjected to the most repressive activity," Berta Antunez said through a translator following the meeting.

"It was almost a slap in the face to the pro-democracy and human rights movement on the island," she added.

A spokesman for the CBC has been contacted for a response.