Senators Vow to Block Obama’s Cuba Ambassador Pick

Monday, October 3, 2016
From The Washington Free Beacon:

Senators Vow to Block Obama’s Cuba Ambassador Pick

Demand greater oversight of human rights violations by communist regime

Leading senators are vowing to block President Obama’s recent nomination of an ambassador to Cuba, citing the administration’s failure to address ongoing human rights violations by the communist regime, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will hold up Obama’s nomination of Jeffrey DeLaurentis to be the first U.S. ambassador to Cuba in decades until the administration takes firm action to combat the communist country’s human rights violations.

As a sign of protest, the lawmakers, along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), filed a measure late Wednesday stating that the Cuban regime has “unyieldingly violated basic human rights” and dubbing the reestablishment of ties with the country a failure, according to a copy of the resolution exclusively obtained by the Free Beacon.

The measure also expresses U.S. solidarity with Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas, who recently endured a lengthy hunger strike in peaceful protest against the Castros’ totalitarian regime.

Congressional critics of the administration’s detente with Cuba accuse Obama of turning a blind eye to the country’s human rights failures in an effort to avoid offending the Castro regime and potentially harming the new relationship.

“President Obama’s decision yesterday to try to jam through his nominee to be Ambassador to Cuba during the lame duck session is just the most recent example of how exactly backwards his Cuba policy is,” Cruz told the Free Beacon. “The president is laboring under the misconception that heaping honors on Raul and Fidel Castro will magically make them change the pattern of the last half-century and become pro-American.”

“Unfortunately,” Cruz added, “over the last twenty months of high-level delegations, embassy openings, and state visits, the opposite has proven to be the case. Rather than liberalizing, the Castros have become even more firmly entrenched—and enriched—by the Obama administration policy. Even worse, they have escalated their human rights abuses against their own citizens as their favored tools of coercion such as arbitrary detentions and beatings have only increased.”

Cruz went on to cite Fariñas’ treatment as a prime example of Cuba’s failure to reform following the renewal of ties with the United States.

“Two months ago, for example, the distinguished recipient of the 2010 Andrei Sakharov Prize from the European Union Parliament and well-known dissident Guillermo Farinas inquired with the authorities about the fate of a colleague who had disappeared some days before,” Cruz said. “He was severely beaten for his audacity, which prompted him to embark on his 24th hunger strike protest—his only peaceful means to draw attention to the plight of the Cuban people.”

“This resolution is Congress’ means to let them know there are still some in America who stand with them, not the Castros,” Cruz said.

The resolution “honors the courage” of Fariñas and criticizes Cuban authorities for launching a campaign to disgrace him in public.

The measure also states the Castro regime has “unyieldingly violated basic human rights and steadfastly suppressed peaceful dissent in Cuba, despite nonviolent calls for change in Cuba and internationally,” according to text.

The resolution goes on to state that “unconditional reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba” has “failed to meaningfully improve the predicament of the people of Cuba.”