Senate Resolution Honors Wilman Villar

Thursday, January 26, 2012
Senator Menendez, Rubio and Bill Nelson Condemn Cuban Regime; Honor Cuban Dissident and Democracy Activist Wilman Villar Mendoza

WASHINGTON – United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced a Senate resolution today condemning the Cuban regime and honoring the life of Cuban dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza, who passed away in Cuban custody on January 19th following a 56-day hunger strike in the horrific Aguadores prison near Santiago de Cuba.

“The responsibility for Mr. Mendoza’s death rests squarely with the Castro brothers, whose regime has arrested more than 4000 activists last year alone and continues to repress the human rights of all Cubans,” said Menendez. “Wilman Villar Mendoza was merely exercising his freedom of expression when he was arrested, convicted in a sham trial that lasted an hour, and sentenced to 4 years in one of Cuba’s most inhumane prisons. Now the Cuban security forces are harassing his wife, a member of the Ladies in White, and are threatening to take away their children.” Menendez added, “The incredible sacrifice made by Mr. Mendoza on the behalf of all Cubans will never be forgotten. I urge the international community to speak out about the death of Mr. Mendoza and relentless abuses of human rights in Cuba”

Senator Rubio said, "I join the Cuban people in mourning the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza, and I offer my condolences and prayers to his wife and children. The Cuban regime is a callous band of murderers that once again has blood on its hands for unjustly imprisoning this man and allowing him to die from a hunger strike. "Once again, we are reminded of the unintended but negative consequences of this administration's loosened travel and remittance policies. They help deliver more hard currency to the Castro regime, making it easier for them to brutalize and even murder the Cuban people," Rubio stated.

“We should never forget Mr. Mendoza’s fight against tyranny,” said Senator Nelson. “And, we will continue to apply constant and unrelenting pressure until the Cuban people enjoy the freedom they deserve.”

The resolution in its entirety:

Title: Honoring the life of dissident and democracy activist Wilman Villar Mendoza and condemning the Castro regime for the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza.

Whereas, on Thursday, January 19, 2012, 31-year-old Cuban dissident Wilman Villar Mendoza died, following a 56-day hunger strike to highlight his arbitrary arrest and the repression of basic human and civil rights in Cuba by the Castro regime;

Whereas, on November 2, 2011, Wilman Villar Mendoza was detained by security forces of the Government of Cuba for participating in a peaceful demonstration in Cuba calling for greater political freedom and respect for human rights;

Whereas Wilman Villar Mendoza was sentenced to 4 years in prison after a hearing that lasted less than 1 hour and during which Wilman Villar Mendoza was neither represented by counsel nor given the opportunity to speak in his defense;

Whereas, on November 25, 2011, Wilman Villar Mendoza was placed in solitary confinement after initiating a hunger strike to protest his unjust trial and imprisonment;

Whereas Wilman Villar Mendoza was a member of the Unio1n Patrio1tica de Cuba, a dissident group the Cuban regime considers illegitimate because members express views critical of the regime;

Whereas security forces of the Government of Cuba have harassed Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales, the wife of Villar Mendoza and a member of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), and have threatened to take away her children if she continues to work with the Ladies in White;

Whereas Human Rights Watch, which documented the case of Wilman Villar Mendoza, stated, “Arbitrary arrests, sham trials, inhumane imprisonment, and harassment of dissidents’ families—these are the tactics used to silence critics.”;

Whereas Amnesty International stated, “The responsibility for Wilman Villar Mendoza’s death in custody lies squarely with the Cuban authorities, who summarily judged and jailed him for exercising his right to freedom of expression.”;

Whereas Orlando Zapata Tamayo, another prisoner of conscience jailed after the “Black Spring” crackdown on opposition groups in March 2003, died in prison on February 23, 2010, after a 90-day hunger strike;

Whereas, according to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights, the unrelenting tyranny of the Castro regime has led to more than 4,000 political detentions and arrests in 2011; and

Whereas Cuba is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council despite numerous documented violations of human rights every year in Cuba: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the Cuban regime for the death of Wilman Villar Mendoza on January 19, 2011, following a hunger strike to protest his incarceration for participating in a peaceful protest and to highlight the plight of the Cuban people;

(2) condemns the repression of basic human and civil rights by the Castro regime in Cuba that resulted in more than 4,000 detentions and arrests of activists in 2011;

(3) honors the life of Wilman Villar Mendoza and his sacrifice on behalf of the cause of freedom in Cuba;

(4) extends condolences to Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales, the wife of Wilman Villar Mendoza, and their children;

(5) urges the United Nations Human Rights Council to suspend Cuba from its position on the Council;

(6) urges the General Assembly of the United Nations to vote to suspend the rights of membership of Cuba to the Human Rights Council;

(7) urges the international community to condemn the harassment and repression of peaceful activists by the Cuban regime; and

(8) calls on the governments of all democratic countries to insist on the release of all political prisoners and the cessation of violence, arbitrary arrests, and threats against peaceful demonstrators in Cuba, including threats against Maritza Pelegrino Cabrales and members of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco).