Menendez Remarks at Senate Hearing on Cuba

Thursday, May 21, 2015
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Menendez Remarks at Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Cuba

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez delivered the following remarks at today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled: “U.S. Cuba Relations – The Way Forward.

Below are his beginning remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing at such a critical time. Today is 113th anniversary of Cuban Independence Day, a bittersweet date given that the island – after more than fifty long years – has lived under the totalitarian reign of the Castro regime.

As Assistant Secretary Jacobson re-opens negotiations between Cuba and the United States tomorrow, let me be frank. Not one member of this Committee has ever said the U.S. should never talk with the regime. But I have deep concerns that the more these talks progress, the more the Administration continues to entertain unilateral concessions without – in return – getting agreement on fundamental issues that are in our national interest.

I have not seen any movement toward greater freedom for the Cuban people. I have not seen movement toward greater tolerance, democracy, or the rule of law. Human rights abuses continue unabated with more than 1,600 cases of arbitrary political rests this year. And, today, only days before the Administration’s recommendation to remove Cuba from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism goes into effect, known terrorists continue to enjoy safe haven in Cuba. Joanne Chesimard, on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list for murdering New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster, and Charles Hill, wanted for killing a New Mexico State trooper and hijacking a U.S. civilian plane – are both living in Cuba, protected by the regime.

Negotiations aside, hopes aside, this administration’s desire to move Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list aside – Cuba’s actions have not changed. Nothing has changed. The real change will come when the Cuban people are finally free.