Words can not adequately describe the dismay and betrayal felt by freedom lovers within the Cuban-American community. While I am grateful for every opportunity the United States has offered me and our entire exiled family, I wholeheartedly believe that President Obama's executive action to normalize relations with the tyrannical regime in Cuba is not representative of our fundamental beliefs of liberty and defense of human rights. President Obama's decision was both ill-conceived and disastrous for the future of a free Cuba, as clearly expressed in the aftermath by the actual oppressed dissidents currently residing in Cuba. Furthermore, I believe the President's unilateral executive action, in the absence of Congressional approval or ratification, is illegal. I strongly urge Congress to stand with the Cuban-American community, the oppressed dissidents in Cuba, and the Cuban people in opposition to President Obama's actions, and uphold the principles that have made our nation a beacon of freedom throughout the world.
Statement by 38-year old Cuban-American state legislator, Florida Rep. Erik Fresen:
Raul Castro is a communist dictator and an enemy of the United States. At a time when so many of our fellow Americans are giving their lives for freedom and liberty on foreign lands, our President has sided with tyranny and human rights violators. While it is great that Alan Gross will be home with his family for the Holidays, it is outrageous that the perpetrators of his illegal incarceration have been rewarded for their illegal and inhumane actions toward Mr. Gross. The ransom for this innocent hostage has been paid with 3 convicted criminals who were responsible for the deaths of Americans. This administration has negotiated unilaterally with a terrorist nation and its dictator and betrayed every promise it has made to freedom loving Americans.
Statement by 40-year old Cuban-American state legislator, Florida Senator Rene Garcia:
The release of Alan Gross from a Cuban jail is welcomed news especially now during the holidays. I, however, am extremely upset by the Presidents inability to negotiate a deal that will help promote democracy on the Cuban island. For those that think this is a good deal let me remind you, Alan Gross was unjustly incarcerated for bringing cellphones and electronics to people on the island. In comparison, the Cuban spies who we swapped were part of the conspiracy that brought down “The Brothers to the Rescue" airplane, a civilian airplane on a humanitarian mission over international waters in 1996. "The Brothers to the Rescue” airplane was over the Florida Straits in search of Cuban refugees when Cuban military aircrafts shot them down on a direct order from the Cuban government.
I agree that the Cuban people are in dire need of economic relief, however sacrificing our democratic integrity and maintaining the communist status quo is absolutely unacceptable. The fifty years of struggle, displacement, and sacrifice that our parent’s generation and many political prisoners faced should not be in vein. Unfortunately, Cuban Americans across the United States are now being told to forgive and forget, while the Cuban government continues to oppress, intimidate, and imprison an entire country in plain sight.
Today, the Cuban people on the island awoke with not an ounce of change. The Cuban government has repeatedly exhibited an intolerance for basic human rights of its citizens. There still remains a complete absence of freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and most importantly freedom of speech. The President's deal did nothing to further any of these basic, implicit human rights that we are blessed to enjoy in the United States, and the future advancement of these rights are nowhere in sight through “normalizing" diplomatic relations with Cuba. For these reasons and many more I cannot bring myself to support the President’s policy shift.
Statement by 41-year old Cuban-American state legislator, Florida Rep. Manny Diaz, Jr.:
I find it appalling that the President would try to build another relationship with those that openly oppose the value of freedom. Those who brutally oppress and ignore basic human rights should be punished, not rewarded. We hope Alan Gross and his family are in good health. But we cannot negotiate in good faith with those that have a track record of oppression towards their own people. I strongly condemn President Obama’s actions with opening up relations with Cuba and hope that my fellow legislators, community leaders, and activists join me in letting their voices be heard.