Senators Strongly Condemn Attack on Yoani

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Bipartisan Group of Senators Condemned Brutal Attack of Blogger by Cuban Regime

WASHINGTON – On Friday, Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez and several colleagues were viciously attacked, beaten and thrown into waiting cars by plain-clothes state security agents as they walked to join a peaceful march against violence.

Today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator George LeMieux (R-FL), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), condemned the attacks.

"I'm sure the irony of viciously beating a pacifist dissident on the way to a march for non-violence was lost entirely on the Castro regime," said Senator Menendez. "Once again, the dictatorship rears its ugly head in the form of physical violence and the suppression of human rights against its own people. This is yet another indication that despite all of the hope for change on the island, the regime continues to rule with an iron fist that crushes any seed of free speech or human rights. The Castro regime wants to have it both ways – they want a new relationship with the United States, but they also want to keep attacking their own people, silencing free speech and imprisoning dissidents just as they always have. This should not and cannot be. The Castro regime can't continue to expect to get something without giving something in return, plain and simple."

"This is yet another unfortunate reminder that appeasing the Castro regime will not work. We must continue standing with Cuban heroes like Yoani Sanchez and Oscar Elias Biscet and not with their oppressors," said Senator George LeMieux.

"The United States and the international community must stand together in support of those who peacefully exercise their basic rights and freedom of expression. We must have zero tolerance for repressive regimes and the tactics of intimidation," said Senator Bill Nelson.

"Yoani Sanchez has been a symbol of courage in one of the most dangerous press environments in the world, and I strongly condemn attempts by the government of Cuba to silence her. If Cuba is ever to improve its standing with the community of nations, it must protect human rights for all people, including political dissidents, members of the press, and bloggers. I hope the Cuban government realizes that this act violates freedom of expression, and it is critical that the perpetrators of this crime are punished and justice is served," said Senator Kaufman.

"The best judge of political freedom is for dissenting points of view to be freely expressed. Senseless acts like this make it difficult to believe that the Castro regime is willing to allow political and economic freedom for its people. It's time the Castro brothers allow the people of this rich nation to enjoy the civil rights and liberties that billions across the world already have," said Senator Chuck Grassley.

"The anti-freedom message sent by the Cuban government with last month's denial of Ms. Sanchez' exit request has been multiplied with the vicious physical attack on this internationally respected blogger. Last month, I wrote to the Cuban Interests Section to ask the Cuban Government to allow Ms. Sanchez to come to the United States to accept Columbia University's Maria Moors Cabot Prize, which is awarded for outstanding reporting on Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, more than ever, I call on the Cuban Government to treat its journalists with respect," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

"Freedom of speech is a basic human right that Cuba must respect if it wants a future relationship with the United States. Government-sponsored violence and intimidation cannot be tolerated and we have an obligation to speak out against these actions by the Cuban Government," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg.