Cuba’s Castro Regime Gives Warm Welcome to Congressional Democrats

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A delegation of three Democrat U.S. Congressmen — Reps. James McGovern (D-MA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Troy Carter (D-LA) — traveled to Havana over the weekend to meet with several members of the communist Castro regime and their puppet president Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The meeting between Democrat representatives and senior Communist Party members occurs at a time when the Castro regime’s continued human rights violations, the growing number of arrests and incidents of harassment against political dissidents, and the inhumane conditions the regime continues to submit them to have caused a dramatic upsurge of Cuban citizens desperately trying to flee communism over the past year.

Rep. McGovern’s appearance in Cuba is of particular note as he is a co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a U.S. agency dedicated to studying and countering nefarious Chinese regime influence in America and advocating against Beijing’s human rights violations. Cuba is a client state of China’s, most recently receiving $100 million in aid from China following Díaz-Canel’s visit to Beijing a month ago.

According to the Castro regime’s National Assembly, the Democrats’ delegation first held a meeting with communist Cuban lawmakers on Friday promoting the “normalization” of relations between the United States and Cuba.

“A common goal is to work so that both governments normalize their relations,” Rep. McGovern said during the meeting. “Both nations must find ways to work, across differences, on issues of mutual interest.”

Cuba’s National Assembly informed via a press release published on Saturday that, following their meeting with the communist lawmakers, the Democrat delegation was received by the president of Cuba’s National Assembly, Esteban Lazo Hernández and his delegation.

Lazo Hernández “highlighted” the transcendence of the meeting while expressing that “as neighbors, the closer we are, the better we should relate to each other.”

During his meeting with the head of the Cuban legislator, McGovern, who is also co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, stated that he has visited Cuba on previous occasions while expressing his support towards the end of the alleged “embargo” against Cuba, which in theory should prevent Americans from doing business with the regime or visiting the island. The Democrats’ presence in Cuba largely undermines arguments that the “embargo” is serving to prevent Americans from enriching the Communist Party in any meaningful way.

“We want to work together with you to tear down the walls, to have a more mature and constructive relationship, for the benefit of the peoples of Cuba and the United States,” McGovern stated. The U.S. representative reportedly added that, according to him, there are no reasons for Cuba to have been included in the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The United States, during the Trump administration, included Cuba on the state sponsors of terrorism list in January 2021 due to the communist regime’s extensive ties to terrorist organizations around the world, such as Colombia’s Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Shiite jihadist organization Hezbollah. Cuba, alongside Nicaragua and other authoritarian regimes, were recently included in the Department of State’s list of countries that systematically violate its citizens’ religious freedom.

On Saturday, the Democrat congressmen were received by the Castro regime’s puppet president Miguel Díaz-Canel, the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, and other members of the Castro regime.

Díaz-Canel availed himself of the opportunity to blame all of Cuba’s social and economic woes — the result of over half a century of communist rule — on the United States’ “embargo” and on sanctions imposed on the Castro regime by the Trump administration. McGovern had claimed in 2021 that the sanctions were the reason for “increased suffering on the island.”

“I received a delegation from the U.S. Congress presided by James McGovern. We addressed our differences and topics of common interest. The shared will to improve bilateral relations was ratified. I expressed the need to put an end to measures that harm the Cuban population,” Díaz-Canel posted on his Twitter account on Saturday afternoon.

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, the Castro regime’s top diplomat, expressed via Twitter that the Democrats’ delegation and the Castro regime’s representatives “corroborated common interest in moving on to a constructive relationship between both countries.”

Additionally, Rodríguez Parrilla used his Twitter account to accuse the United States’ “embargo” of being a “massive systematic human rights violation” against the people of Cuba.

In November, another delegation of the U.S. Congress’ Agriculture Committee composed of Reps. Jim Baird (R-IN), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and led by Salud Carbajal (D-CA) traveled to Cuba to “meet with Cuban farmers, agricultural business operators, and local officials to discuss the current state of agriculture in Cuba, the impact that U.S. commodities are having in Cuban markets and households, and related issues.”

As U.S. Congress delegations continue to approach the Castro regime, Cuban citizens, who have continuously peacefully protested against the Castro regime for years without rest, continue to demand an end to communism. In response, the Castro regime has retaliated against the protesters with increased repression and brutality, including arresting and beating minors.

The non-government organization Cuban Prisoners Defenders announced on Friday that, as of November, the organization has confirmed the imprisonment by the Castro regime of 1,034 political prisoners, up from the 805 that the organization had verified as of December 2021 — 34 of whom are minors (29 boys and five girls). Cuban Prisoners Defenders typically offer a disclaimer that the number of verifiable political prisoners in the country is likely significantly less than the true number, as many dissidents simply disappear without due process into the system and rural arrests and disappearances are difficult to confirm.

The organization states that the Castro regime’s political prisoners are subjected to torture and other human rights violations. The Castro regime has also punished political prisoners that refuse to become loyal to communism through “ideological rehabilitation.”

The worsening human rights situation in Cuba and the continued inhumane conditions have caused Cuban citizens to attempt to flee in record numbers throughout 2022. The Biden administration, which has granted generous concessions to the Castro regime, continues to detain and deport Cubans trying to reach American soil by land or by sea. The latter group — commonly known as Cuban balseros, or “rafters” — have been the main subject of the Biden administration’s deportations.

In November, U.S. officials announced that the Castro regime will soon resume receiving deportation flights from the United States for Cubans fleeing from communism.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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