Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Smith: Obama Move Let's Castros Strengthen Grip On Cuba

New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith comments on Obama move to embrace Castro Governmen:

The news of President Obama’s decision to embrace the Castro regime after decades of human rights abuses, including the harboring of fugitives and stymieing U.S. government efforts to extradite Joanne Chisimard, the convicted murderer of a New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and other fugitives, is disappointing in light of Cuba’s long record of human rights violations and Fidel Castro and Raul Castro, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) said today.

“While we all welcome the return of Alan Gross to his family and to freedom, it is outrageous that President Obama chose to link his unjust incarceration and long-delayed release of this humanitarian with a trade for three spies,” said Smith, chairman of the House panel that oversees international global human rights. “The jailing of humanitarian Alan Gross underscored how an island paradise has been turned into a gulag under the Castros, and his long-delayed release on humanitarian grounds should never should have been linked to release of three spies convicted of espionage against the United States, including Gerardo Hernandez, who also conspired to commit murder.

“What is most dangerous is the message Obama is once again sending to terrorists around the world: as in the case of Beau Bergdahl, the message is that if you take an American hostage, we will release dangerous criminals, be they spies like the Cuban Five, or Taliban jihadists. Meanwhile the Castros continue to harbor criminals such as convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, who shot down New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in cold blood, shooting him twice in the head while he lay on the ground wounded.

“Rather than bringing the Cuban people closer to democracy and freedom, by capitulating to the Castro brothers, the Administration allows them to strengthen their grip on the Cuban people. Whatever joy we feel at the release of Alan Gross is tempered by the sadness that our President is enabling tyranny.”

Note: Rep. Smith and Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08) unveiled the “Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act” (H.R. 3585) in 2013. The bill, sponsored by Smith, would require the executive branch to report to Congress on the number of fugitives in Cuba and other countries which our government is seeking to extradite, the efforts it has undertaken to secure their return, how often it is successful, and factors that have prevented their return. The information would allow Congress to evaluate and strengthen the executive branch’s efforts to extradite fugitives.

The bill is also named after Walter Patterson who was also brutally murdered by a killer who had been convicted, escaped prison and simply moved abroad beyond the reach of U.S. justice.

For years Smith has been active in advocating for Cuban political prisoners, including Dr. Óscar Elías Biscet, M.D., a courageous human rights advocate who has spent over 11 years in jail. Biscet testified via telephone at a hearing chaired by Smith in 2012. Smith nominated Biscet for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 and again in 2011, when he led an international movement nominating him. Shortly after the nominations were made, Biscet was released. He remains in Cuba, today. It was reported he was beaten and shortly detained earlier this year.

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