Congressman Albio Sires issued the following statement regarding the Administration’s announcement on its shift in policy towards Cuba:
“What should be a joyous moment to celebrate the overdue homecoming of Alan Gross today has been marred by the actions undertaken by the Administration to secure his release. The President’s announcement today detailing plans for a loosening of sanctions and initiating discussions to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba is naïve and disrespectful to the millions of Cubans that have lived under the Castro’s repressive regime; and the thousands of human rights defenders that have fought tirelessly and at times with their lives to bring about democratic change to Cuba.
Any notion that the Administration’s engagement with Cuba will encourage a form of Cuban glasnost is a dangerous miscalculation. Cuba has not changed in 50 years and is unlikely to change if its repressive government is given more room to breathe. In turn, the Administration has risked allowing the Cuban regime to continue its repressive policies towards the Cuban people as it has over the last half century.
Now more than ever it will be incumbent upon the Cuban government to uphold the Inter-American Democratic Charter and respect the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of speech and assembly, and proceed with free and fair elections. Moreover, while I may welcome the release of over 50 political prisoners, little has been said for the countless others that remain inside a Cuban prison or the fact that the same 50 plus prisoners freed today could very well be imprisoned again tomorrow for exercising the same human rights of free speech that unjustly placed them inside prison the first time.
I am disappointed in the actions taken by the President today. However, it is Congress that must and will ultimately decide if and when the sanctions against Cuba will be lifted.”
Congressman Sires serves as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere within the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for the 113th Congress.