Press Release

Bipartisan Group Of Senators Condemns Brutal Attack Of Dissident Blogger By Cuban Regime

Nov 10, 2009

Washington, D.C.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), George LeMieux (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ted Kaufman
(D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and 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. 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,” said
Senator Menendez

“This is yet another outrageous and unacceptable example that
appeasing the Castro regime will not work. We cannot be silent, and we cannot
ignore the actions of this oppressive regime as they continue to violate the
basic human rights of its people.  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.

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

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 Grassley

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 Gillibrand.

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 Lautenberg.