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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 6, 2015 5:00am-7:01am EST

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toward latin america hfment he studied cuban issues and traveled to cuba more than a dozen times. i wish i could get that visa -- including he coordinates coalitions who favor lifting the general travel ban on cuba. >> honorable congressman christopher smith, good morning all honorable members. i'm a former political prisoner who spent 17 continuous years of political imprisonment for the
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sole supposed crime of calling out in a public square in my hometown for the implementation of reforms, as they were taking place than in communist europe. within prison, i remained steadfast as a political prisoner. due to my constant struggle, i was subjected to the most refined forms of torture and cruel punishment. for example, on the morning of october 14 1994, high-ranking
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officers from the political police six dogs on me while my hands were handcuffed behind my back. because they did not exempt the. -- indoctrination program in the prison walls, i was sent to the most inhospitable and rigorous prison. later, together with very courageous brothers from the prison we found it the political prisoners organization. in spite of repression, it managed to unify hundreds of political prisoners to carry out civic resistance within the prison walls. after i was released in 2007, i have continued with the
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struggles inside cuba, which i think is most important. this is a national organization which carries out protests for human rights. today i am here in the name of my brothers in the resistance. most especially, in the name of those who are in prison for their ideas, which there are dozens of. they have remained in prison in
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spite of the unconvincing process of release agreed upon by president barack obama and dictator raul castro. i want to mentioned my imprisoned brothers. these men have a long list of heroes whose only plan has been to oppose the dictatorship and to continue resisting within prison walls. a few days ago, we learned the president of this great nation
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had agreed with dictator castro to reestablish diplomatic ties, as well as steps leading to the elimination of the embargo. as if this were not enough those who participated in the murder of four u.s. citizens were exchanged for allen gross. these agreements, which are considered important part of the cuban resistance as a betrayal of the hopes for freedom of the cuban people because the
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principles and the freedom of the country do not belong to any government, no matter how powerful or influential that may be. there is an international effort underway to promote a soup is that evolution within the castro regime. -- supposed evolution within the castro regime. this is a fraudulent change to perpetuate the same power. this illusion is manipulated by the dictatorship to perpetuate itself in power. the castro dictatorship cannot
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be reformed. the castro dictatorship not only seeks to control the cuban people, it 62 export the repression. -- seeks to export the repression and move it to other countries, such as venezuela. what israel change in cuba mean? -- does a real change in cuba mean? it means human rights. it means general amnesty for all political prisoners. it means the right to organize political parties and labor unions.
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real change in cuba means free real elections. it means a separation from power of the castro brothers. this is recognized in current u.s. law toward cuba and it should remain so. because it constitutes the best possible support for the cuban resistance. a majority of the cuban resistance has signed on to the agreement. this is a roadmap of 10 elemental points for democracy in cuba. we ask recognition from the congress of the united states for this document and for what
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it represents as a clear path toward democracy in cuba. i ask the american people and this freely elected congress that it maintain its firm support for the right of the cuban people to be free. we may be close to true change in cuba. the drop in the international price in oil. the instability of the regime in venezuela, which is been the main supporter of the castro regime. the civic resistance which is widespread throughout the island . and how this resistance is increasingly coordinating itself , as is taking place with the
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forum for freedoms and rights. this is a moment to demand real concessions from the castro regime. only this can mean normal relations between the united states and cuba. cubans can be as successful on the island, as they have been abroad. the cuban resistance struggles for freedom. >> thank you for that powerful testimony. we do have a series of votes on the house floor. we will have to take a short recess.
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we will break and come back for questions. i do hope members of the press and our audience will stay. we have very powerful testimony that awaits. we stand in short recess. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> the subcommittee will begin. we apologize for the delay.
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>> honorable congressman smith. distinguished members of the subcommittee. above all, i want to thank you for listening to me. also i want to thank all of the people and organizations who have made a possible for me to testify on the human rights situation in my country cuba. we are living through a defining moment through the future of our country. -- in the future of our country.
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in the wake of the recently announced reestablishment of diplomatic ties between the u.s. and cuba i am appearing here as a leader of the ladies in white. a group of women activists who support change for democracy in our country through nonviolent means. inspired by the example of women such as rosa parks and karen decaying, among others. -- coretta king, among others.
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now, 50 years after the events in selma alabama and testifying before a subcommittee whose mandate includes global human rights it is a great honor and a historic opportunity for me to appear before you. i also speak on behalf of numerous leaders and activists from cuban civil society who haven't trusted me with speaking for them before you.
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it is a civil society that is particularly request by the intolerance of a government's exercise of power consists of this systematic violation of the human rights of the cuban people. just before i left cuba to be here last january 28, the birth of our family father -- founding father dozens of activists were arrested in havana for offering
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flowers that statues of josé martín. in a totalitarian vision, the dictatorship seeks a monopoly on our national identity and uses force on all individual activists. the most respected international human rights organizations have documented violations of human rights in cuba. on october 28 20 13, the inter-american commission on human rights issued an
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injunction on behalf of the members of the ladies in white. to enforce protection in the face of systemic repression by cuban authorities. i submit the official precautionary member -- measures submitted to the committee for these purposes. as well as a report by cuba elects, which initiated the report before the commission. i request that these reports be made part of the record for this hearing as part of our testimony.
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as proof of what we are exposing in our testimony today. these documents demonstrate that the subject of political prisoners continues to be one of the most sensitive issues in cuba today. reaching far beyond locational or periodic release of some of them. resolving this matter requires the unconditional freeing of everyone who has been jailed for political reasons on the island.
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and the elimination of all legal restrictions to repress those who think differently from the regime. there are fundamental freedoms that are an absolute right in north american society -- they are crimes against what they regard as "state security."
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separation of powers does not exist in cuba freedom of expression and association continue to be repressed as the constitution establishes the communist party is the driving force for the communist -- for the country. labor and slavery have been denounced by international organizations.
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it is not possible to talk of a willingness to change on the part of the castro regime. that same january 28, the dictator castro stated that cuba will not give up one millimeter. for us, this signals the continuation of beatings, jailing scum of forced exiles discrimination against children at school.
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and all manner of discriminations we face for wanting to see a pluralistic cuba. the aspirations are legitimate because they are under guided by the universal declaration of human rights, to which cuba is a pretty, and the signed international human rights contract which has not been ratified by the dictatorship.
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the elimination of all decisions that analyze freedom of expression -- penalize freedom of expression and association. and the right of the cuban people to choose their future through free, plural elections. we believe these demands are just an valid. -- and valid. these recognize the most concrete exercise of politics --
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a step in the direction of democratic coexistence. things can change when we oppose the regime. in the name of those that have been executed, and the name of cuban political prisoners in the name of the humanitarian organizations, in the name of the victims from march 13, in the name of the victims of
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cuba's communist regime, cuba yes, castro no. thank you very much. >> thank you very much for that powerful testimony and for providing very specific benchmarks that the cuban dictatorship needs to follow if cuba is to truly be free. i would like to yield the floor. >> good morning. i was born in 1970 into a cuban family that since 1959 had been branded as a dissident toward the state.
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you were classified as counterrevolutionaries because we were opposed to the castro regime. for over half a century, the castro regime has violated and violates human rights. from the beginning the herb and crimes, murders, political prisoners, and people discriminated. all those who speak out against the regime are brutally repressed, imprisoned, or murdered. in spite of having been raised within communism they were
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never able to convince us that that is the right way to live. as a human rights activist, i participated in organizing demonstrations in havana. among them, a historic demonstration in 2011 in the old capitol building in the center of havana. on that day, for women, in spite of repression, opened a banner displaying a slogan calling for the release of political prisoners. hundreds of cubans witnessed this protest.
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we inspired many cubans who began to shout along with us for freedom. others carried out their own protests. at all times, we felt the support of the people. this protest was well worth the repression that we later suffered. i have been repeatedly arrested. they have beaten me senselessly in police stations to the point that they thought they had killed me. on one occasion, three female police officers dragged me by my hair from one cell to another.
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while they jacked me by my hair -- dragged me by my hair the kicks me in the back and in my head. once i was in the cell they were taking me to and while i was still handcuffed behind my back, the male police officers kicked me with all his strength in my head. i suffered permanent damage to my right kidney. i continue to suffer disease spells to this day. it is with this and much worse
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that the castro regime controls the cuban people. they do this to constantly show the people what the cost of rebellion is. this type of repression continues today in cuba. cubans cannot elect their leaders. children are indoctrinated in schools and those who do not follow the brainwashing cannot finish their studies. the people have been condemned to hunger and misery by the regime.
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a people without freedom of expression with all the media controlled by the government and hungry, are easy to manipulate. people think only about how to feed their family and although they do not like the way they are living, they can only think about survival. in order to escape, they venture to the sea on makeshift rafts. it is for these reasons that we do not agree with the negotiations between the president of the united states
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barack obama and dictator role castro -- raul castro. why negotiate with a dictatorship without taking into account the people and their resistance? what about all the years of suffering? of beatings when they demanded freedom and democracy? what about the political prisoners, the murdered, the disappeared question -- disappeared? what has castro given in exchange? only when all political prisoners are released, only when all independent political parties and labor unions are
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legalized, only when free multiparty democratic elections are carried out, only when human rights are respected, only then should the embargo be lifted. i think god for having been raised by a family which taught me truth. i was not able to finish my studies and neither was my son for saying what was on my mind. my family and i have been repressed, beaten, we have been thrown into cells. my house was destroyed by those using sticks stones, who hurled
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all types of paint tar waste chemical liquids, this attack against my house was carried out by paramilitary members hired by the police. to lift the embargo means to legitimize dictatorship. to provide oxygen to them so they stay in power while they oppress and murder. the cuban people will not benefit from the embargo, only the regime will benefit.
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no cuban can own their own businesses. the castro family owns cuba. we have faith and the struggle and the cuban resistance. there is only one resistance inside and outside cuba. the agreement for democracy, a historic document, lays out a clear roadmap for democracy. we want freedom, justice, and democracy for cuba now.
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god bless cuba and the united states. thank you. >> thank you. and thank you for reminding us that these atrocities continue to this day. the appalling lack of respect for fundamental human rights by the dictatorship -- thank you for that great testimony. >> thank you. i want to thank chairman smith and ranking member bass for convening this hearing on human rights. we are in non-governmental organization that has done research and advocacy on human rights industries. i have followed latin american human rights since the mid-1980's. i try to meet with a wide range of cubans academics catholic
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and protestant church leaders government officials, government critics, people in the small business sector. i have regularly met with activists. i have had the pleasure of meeting with visiting cuban dissidents. the question before us today really is, has the united states quando do not opportunity to promote human rights in cuba? far from squandering an opportunity, our new position on cuba will open new paths to human rights. it will provide opportunities to advance human rights interests through travel and trade to u.s. citizens, churches academic and cultural institutions, and businesses. it will overall enhance the
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prospects for freedom of expression and reform on the island. i want to comment on three issues. i want to look at the failures of the policy of isolation and the opportunities for the ways in which engagement can advance the human rights situation. on the first question, there is very little doubt and my colleagues have talked about it that there are serious human rights problems. in addition to the human rights situation, it is clear that the cuban economy is overall fairly stagnant. many people are yearning for real opportunity. the modest economic growth and kill the -- in cuba has led to economic inequality and one group that has not benefited
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from the modest economic growth is afro-cuban families. at the same time i want to be clear on the other side. the picture in cuba is not uniformly graham. literacy levels in cuba are as high as they are in the united states. cuba passed laws to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. there are very serious and real problems. what can the united states due to improve the situation in cuba? we have pursued a policy of isolation for the last 55 years. i think it is pretty clear that
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that policy has failed to do anything to improve the human rights situation on the island. it has created hardships for cuban citizens, but it has not forced the cuban government to change its policy direction. it has offered the government a rationale to crack down on dissent. the policy has not succeeded in bringing change in the cuban government. it has relegated the united states, the government and society to the sidelines. if the policy has failed, what about a policy of engagement? no one thinks it is a magical solution, but it is clear that periods of engagement have seen
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periods of relaxation. all three of those periods saw significant releases of prisoners. just this past month, 53 political prisoners were released completing the list of amnesty international's list of conscience. the government of spain, canada, norway, a number of international groups have seen specific benefits to efforts they have made toward engagement with the cuban government. beyond the dialogue with cuban officials, there are important things that greater engagement will do. it will benefit cuban families and people to people travelers.
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it will benefit religious interaction. telecommunications is going to offer new opportunities for internet access. if the united states is interested in helping ordinary cubans, that is the path. this is the beginning of a long-term process to reduce tensions between the governments . over time, that is going to help the cuban citizens. thank you. >> thank you for your testimony. mr. clawson, a yield my time. >> thank you.
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thank you for coming today. i think if direct investment was a good way to get these folks around, it we would be in a better place. spain has had a nice hotels and it has not had an impact. i am worried that we are just casting a lifeline to folks, to murderous folks that are really about to go under. [speaking spanish]
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[speaking spanish] you have my full admiration. you have my full respect.
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anything i can do to help you in this sacred fight i am willing and enthusiastic to do so. i am so sad, sometimes brokenhearted, for your suffering and your injuries. i want to tell you wholeheartedly how much i support what you are doing. >> thank you so much. if you would like to respond miss bass as a plane to catch. >> thank you.
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think the witnesses for their testimony. i had a couple of questions. i sit on the board for the national endowment of democracy. there are about 27 organizations that are funded to help with activists in cuba. i just wondered if you thought that the funding was helpful. the three of you are here today and i wondered how you were able to come. are you here for a long time? i was wondering how you were able to get out of cuba. do you travel back and forth? those are the questions i wanted to ask the three of you and then it would like to direct a question to the other witness.
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>> yes. all types of aid received by the opposition are very important. thanks to the aid, we have been able to save at least one life. i will give you an example. when you have a cell phone in your hand, you have a weapon with which to defend yourself. without the aid we get from abroad, we could not pay for that cell phone.
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on many occasions, we have been able to transmit from one corner of the island to another about activists who had disappeared or were arrested. and thanks to that kind of communication, we are able to go on the streets to demand freedom for those who have been arrested. >> i am relatively new on the board. i was just learning about the funding. given that we don't even have mail exchange between our two countries, i was surprised that you are even able to get any aid from the united states.
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>> yes, it is very clear that you can receive aid from one family member to another. that is why the cuban exile community is so important. >> are you able to go back and forth between the united states and cuba? i know you are here today, but you are able to go back and forth? >> in my case, i am a refugee in the united states. >> but you guys are going back right? didn't you mention? >> at this moment in time some
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activists are able to leave cuba and come back thanks to the aid we receive from some ngo's. this does not mean that we are free. there are many activists who are impeded from leaving cuba by the regime. >> sure. i was surprised anybody, the fact that you are able -- they know what you are doing, right? >> i want to give you an example. there are former political prisoners, there are at least 12 political prisoners who are a larger group of 75, who are
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still under house arrest. i will give you a more recent example. one of the ladies in white was released on the ninth of december and when she went to request her passport, it was denied to her. i label it as petty reforms. >> finally, because i promised the chair i wanted to ask if you could talk about some of the --
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in the president's proposals, it is going to allow more economic exchange between our two countries. i'm wondering what impact do you think that might have, especially on the freedom or lack thereof of people to open up their own businesses. there are some businesses like people who have restaurants in their homes. do you think that that is ultimately going to assist the development? >> thank you for the question. 10 year's ago, 90% of the population of the cuban workforce worked for the state or state businesses. today that is probably down to about 70%. the number of people who work for themselves is gone up from about 150,000 to about 500,000 now.
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the vast majority of these businesses are small vendors small restaurants, people selling in dealing out of their homes. i think that the opening we have offered to the private sector is going to take a while to work through, but it is clear that it will strengthen the capacity of those businesses and the creation of a small private sector. i think we will see change in that area over time. >> thank you. >> first of all, let me introduce basillio guzman, who was a political prisoner for 32 years. thank you for joining us. thank you for your courage. i would also like to introduce a leader in her own right, who
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founded the rosa parks civil rights movement and who has spoken out bravely along with her husband. thank you for joining us today. i would like to ask if you opening questions. first of all, if you would not mind speaking to the issue of the mistreatment of afro cubans. i have been working cuban rights issues. i have been working them for 35 years. there has been a lack of attention given to the additional mistreatment's endured by afro cubans. there seems to be a further differentiation and focus of
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negative bias, prejudice against afro cubans. if you could speak to that. >> i appreciate your concern and your interest. i appreciate the concern even from those who are in agreement with barack obama's a policy. before answering directly, i would like to reflect upon something. with all the respect for one of the panelists i felt great pain a few months ago. i felt ill at ease.
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to listen from you that cuba's situation is bad but not that bad. i really don't understand what you mean by a situation that is "bad, but not that bad." when you say this thing about cuban mothers who go to sleep crying because they have no food for their kids i think of those thousands of young women who have had to become prostitutes so they can feed their families.
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i think of the fact that cubans can barely afford to live. i think about the inequality between the regime leaders and the people. think about the moral spiritual, and economic poverty of the people of cuba. there may be some educational achievements in cuba. but when we are talking about a system of education which consists of indoctrination when all three of us were discriminated from pursuing higher education because we had different political ideas, i think that invalidates him with all due respect, your argument.
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cuba is a medical power. but cuba is not a medical power for us. cuba has many sophisticated hospitals and clinics that are first world, but those clinics are only for people who can pay with dollars. they are only for tourists are for the elite. i also reduce say that the human rights situation is not that grievous. how hard it must be for someone like this man to listen to something like that. is it not that bad to be imprisoned merely for displaying
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a sign calling for freedom? is it not that bad to be in prison like ernesto? i want to emphasize this case. barack obama released three confessed spies from the u.s.. they were conspiring against us. however, this young man who was sentenced to 30 years in prison and he spent 18 years in prison because he passed on information to the u.s. about 26 cuban spies who were being sent to the u.s. to conspire against the u.s. cuba's situation is extremely bad.
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i want to comment upon your reflections. i want to address directly what you asked. i want to ask why is it that you cannot go into cuba? why can you not travel into cuba? because if you are allowed to go into a cuban prison, all you will see our black people, hundreds of black men. you will see men who would rather jump from a rooftop and commit suicide, or you will see men being bitten by dogs. you will see the beatings, you will see the persecution. you will see these very far-flung sentences, these high sentences. you will see dozens and dozens of political prisoners who were
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not even mentioned in the negotiations. if you want to go to cuba simply tell them that you do not want to go to the prisons or meet with the citizens. i think this addresses what you asked about the situation in cuba. >> thank you very, very much. "the washington post" has done several editorials, very critical of president obama's opening up or moving towards opening up for the relations. they made a very salient point i would like to underscore here, and that is that we are repeating mistakes that were made in the past. when president clinton went to open up relations with vietnam which followed quickly with a bilateral trade agreement with
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president bush, many said it was a mistake not to get human rights reforms durable reforms first, and then moved to the diplomatic recognition followed by an economic relationship. "the post" points out that it is the way in which mr. obama went about this that is a mistake -- not reform first, but moving in to provide a lifeline, as one of their editorials pointed out, a lifeline to a dictatorship at a time when venezuela is less capable of providing funding. we know several years ago that the funding from what was then the soviet union ceased to exist. we blew it when it came to vietnam. i have had passed in this congress three and counting, the vietnam humans rights act. have-- the vietnam human rights
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act. three times harry reid would not put it up to a vote. vietnam is in a race to the bottom with china and north korea. cuba is already there. and yet we have not learned a single lesson from those failed openings, where they get stronger, the dictatorship becomes further empowered. i firmly disagree with your comment about isolation. we are talking about financially enabling a lifeline, to quote "the washington post." one of their lines was "president obama's betrayal of cuban democrats here ." that is the game that fidel castro plays. he lets people in and out.
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but i have a question for the chairwoman. i have been working -- i am a leader in the area of combating human trafficking. i am the prime author of the trafficking victims protection act of 2000. it is our landmark law toward modern-day slavery. there is an annual listing of countries using what we contained in the law called minimal standards. the worst designation is tier three. cuba again, is a tier three country, in egregious violator -- and egregious violator of trafficking with a full complicity of the castro brothers. prostitution and child prostitution. in 2004, frank calzone had
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documentation and was working the human rights commission in geneva. he had documentation of the complicity of this dictatorship with child prostitution and child exploitation. he was knocked out cold, hit in the face by cuban so-called diplomats, thugs. freedom house came to his defense and made a strong statement against it because he was bearing witness to the ugly truth of child prostitution. the state department chronicled this. cuban citizens have been subject to forced prostitution outside cuba as well, and child prostitution continues. in the hotels mentioned by mr. clawson, renting children -- that is the reality of what this barbaric regime is all about. they make money on child sex
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tourism. it is not an open society. i would love for investigators to be able to go there and look to bring charges against those including higher ups in the government. a tier three country. i would like to ask any of our witnesses if they would like to speak to the despicable record of cuba when it comes to the modern-day slave trade. >> [speaking spanish] >> it is very important for you to know that the cuban government promotes child prostitution in cuba.
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the cuban government knows that there are many youths who do not go to school, but who are on the streets looking for ways to make money to feed their families. it is shameful to say, but i must say -- just last week, there was a group of young women saying they were organizing and preserving themselves when tourists arrive so they can preserve themselves for american tourists. if we call the prostitution of hundreds of youth in cuba empowerment.
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if we call cubans who are going to try to steal and prostitute for feeding their families, if we call this empowerment -- if we call empowerment that women like the ladies in white are on the streets -- if we call this empowerment -- if we call empowerment the castro regime fills schools with teachers who are poorly trained -- the children of human rights
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activists are failed in their tests and are damaged or harmed in their studies because their parents are involved in human rights activities -- this is not what we want for cuba. the cuban government is trying to build a chinese model in cuba. the cuban government is looking for -- the cuban regime needs oxygen at needs air. the cuban government wants a capitalist economic system. and a communist political system. we cannot tolerate this after over half a century. human rights first economy
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second. the cuban people are suffering and hungry not because of the american government. the cuban people are hungry because the communist system does not work. we do not want a succession in cuba. we do not want a continuation of the regime. we do not want a dynasty in power. we want free elections. the resources that are for the people of cuba, the resources meant for the cuban people, the castros will take to
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strengthen the apparatus. >> thank you so much, mr. smith. thank you for calling this important hearing. thank you to our witnesses who are victims of the castro regime, for being here today. i am humbled to be in your presence. some of you live in cuba. others are here now but have family in cuba, so i know you are very brave for being here today. this is sort of an insurance policy that you have offered them, mr. smith because by being here today, perhaps they will have some degree of protection that those other figures, as brave as you are will not have. so i know you worry about them. thank you for holding up their photos. thank you for describing the current dismal human rights
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situation in my native homeland of cuba. i wanted to just give the statement and then ask you some questions. how has the regime's treatment changed since december 17? how does the regime manipulate the press in the united states and elsewhere, and visitors and tourists on the island that may come back here with a distorted picture of what is going on? this morning i did a radio interview, and the reporter says "i know cuba. i was there for a week." you have heard from some today that castro's cuba is a picture of equality, that the regime
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supports everyone's writes, including the rights of -- everyone's writesrights, including the rights of afro cubans. thank you for pointing out the mistreatment's of the afro cubans. you testified that the picture in cuba is not a uniformly grim one. the fact that you essentially say, look, it could be worse -- i suppose so. it can always be worse. and it is particularly discussing -- it is particularly disgusting, and an affront to the panelists who sit beside you, and the countless number for of people who have been jailed for expressing their god-given fundamental human rights. to the thousands who have died desperately trying to free cuba.
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if this is such a worker's paradise where the situation is not that bad, that i see people in my district that wash ashore trying to free -- trying to flee castro's cuba. even now, a 40% increase in the number of cubans fleeing the situation that is "not that bad." people who live in constant fear because the regime is watching them closely, or the millions more who have managed to flee over the years. you are repeating the castro propaganda about good public health care. these are the constituents that i resent -- that i represent now. they fled cuba. you should come to miami and meet with my constituents and have them tell you about this great medical care. i have seen them in the michael
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moore documentary "sicko." where does that exist? where does that care exist for these folks? if you are a tourist, you will certainly be treated well. it is good propaganda. public education, advancement of lgb t writes? the truth is that medical care is reserved for the regime officials and the tourists. i know because i represent that community. my district is overwhelmingly cuban-american. i do not know how i got elected. it is just a fluke, i guess. but it is a vote for me and mario, marco rubio, bob menendez. we know that the system of medical care in cuba, for the vast majority of cubans, they have no access to the system. please interview the people as they get off the planes from
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cuba. one doctor thrown in jail for disclosing the truth about abortions being committed, and the poor hospital conditions. and mr. smith has brought that out time and time again. life expectancy rates and other health care statistics in cuba -- where do we get those from? you are doing a survey in cuba, you are manipulated by the regime. it is unbelievable that we have swallowed this. and we have fallen in the trap that mr. castro set for you willing to swallow the regime, spread it to them, the utter falsehoods, and repeat it over and over again to the detriment of the truth and the public. it is such a great system, the public education system. as the witnesses have pointed out, it is a public
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indoctrination program. have you seen the textbooks? meant to stymie freethinking and free will. i have met with prominent cuban lgbt advocates, and they have vigorously dismissed the claims of progress on lgbty. they have condemned the denial of human rights for everyone. the castro regime will protect lgbt rights. they will protect the castro regime. but speak out against the regime and see how far that gets you. my first question to you is, can you honestly look at your co-panelists, in the eye, and tell them that the cuban picture is not a particularly grim one -- it is not that bad -- and
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that the torture, beatings imprisonment, and harassment they have had to endure is not particularly grim? your 17 years in prison, not particularly grim. not that bad. the beatings of 13 who were detained on sunday -- but the press does not cover that anymore because they want to have their bureau in havana. and you talk about how the engagement has led to the release of political prisoners. you talk about this false list of 53 as part of the december 17 announcement. but what happens the next day when people are not looking, when the press has done there stand up and they have got their euro? they do -- their bureau? they do not want to lose their bureau. how many more dissidents are arrested, detained? how many of the 53 were released prior to the arrangement? haven't some of them been
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rearrested? and what about those other ones who never made it to the list? y 53. there were nine -- y 53? there were 9000 according to the report. what has happened to them? the modus operandi of the regime is to do this bait and switch to release some prisoners out of expediency, to promulgate its propaganda, and when the spotlight is off rearrest those people or find new ones to throw in jail. but now they do not even have to wait until the press attention is out. just on monday, a young rapper was put in jail for a year for dangerousness that could lead to a crime. how can you justify that? how can you say we have liberated 53 and it is not that bad?
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i want to ask our panelists here. has it not been that bad for you? when you were in jail, not that bad? not that grim? >> [speaking spanish] >> i think the situation with the violation of human rights in cuba is much worse than we can describe. it has been written about. some documentaries have been made. but none of them capture the full reality. they cannot capture the brutal reality of imprisonment in cuba.
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maybe those who do not have a real idea or do not have all the information about what a cuban prison is like could come to think that a prisoner in cuba is merely deprived of their freedom. they could ignore the cuban political prisoners who are injected with water and told that they are being injected with some sort of sedative. there have been cells throughout the prisons where murders and beatings have taken place. there have been politically induced suicides that have taken place in prison. i will never forget manuel simpson gonzales, when he was
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manipulated by the prison authorities to jump off a third story rooftop. i will never forget the use of shakira, the device for torture in cuba. i do not want to consume too much of your time telling you about all the horrors of the prison. because i have so many examples of torture that we will not have enough time for me to go over them all. if you ask me how i can describe political imprisonment in cuba i would ask you to find it in his great work. you cannot talk about the
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process of engagement of dialogue and understanding if you ignore something as important, as crucial, as essential as political prisoners. we often talk about the embargo and we hear mention of different forms. eloquent voices speak out against the embargo. however, one of the members of congress who is not present right now blames the embargo for not being able to go to cuba. but it should be mentioned, that the only real embargo that the cubans face is the cruel criminal castro dictatorship.
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it does not limit itself on a weekly basis, beating women on the streets. a regime who murdered in the hospital a courageous woman like the ladies of white founder. or who murdered a man by not letting him drink water for 18 days. there will be changes, there will be improvement, but not for the people. it will be for that regime that has imprisoned and repressed cubans, and that is frankly carrying the lead in these negotiations. those of us who are sitting here are not extremists.
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we are not backwards-looking people. we are not against policies of engagement, and we feel the best way to resolve a conflict is by approach meant. but what we cannot accept -- we cannot accept that you confuse cuba with a regime that oppresses people. what we will not accept and we have no reason to accept is that the cuban opposition be ignored in these negotiations. the castro regime has found and barack obama's engagement policy part of the incentives it needs
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in order to continue oppressing and in order to maintain itself in power as well as to legitimize itself, these accords have been important. the cuban citizens do not recognize these accords. and we do not call for a moral authority no matter how powerful they may be. we are appreciative of international solidarity, and we accept it. we respect those who think president obama's policies will benefit cuba, but all that we ask, please, is that you recognize us and take this into account.
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>> [speaking spanish] >> it is very important for you to know that the cuban government uses state tourism against defenseless women. the cuban government is not a sovereign government. the cuban government has not been elected. therefore, we cubans are the sovereignty of cuba. we have the right to express our opinion. it is very important that you know we have no problem with the government of the united states.
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because they have always tried to support the people of cuba. what we are against is the way in which these negotiations are being conducted. because we are the sovereign people, the people of cuba. the secrecy surrounding the list of political prisoners who are going to be released was another deceit of the cuban government. 14 prisoners had already been released. but these 14 were not freemen like those freak -- like those three spies that president obama
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handed over to the castro regime. these political prisoners released by the catcher castro regime have been released on parole. you must take this into account. we can help in how the u.s. government deals with the cuban government. you cannot do business with criminals, and if you do, you must have conditions. you can see how raul castro himself is setting conditions. but which are the conditions
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being set by the cuban government? how can it be possible that so much violence is exerted against women simply because they are trying to practice this freedom? how can it be possible that you are peaceably walking on a sidewalk in your country, and the regime hurled pro-government thugs, paramilitary thugs against you? how can it be possible that the
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police take us to faraway parts of the city and fracture our wrists with their pistol butts? it is a suffering people. it is a people that need freedom. freedom depends on us cubans. but we need the support, we need the material and spiritual support of other governments. i want to go further back. in 1980 100,000 cubans left cuba. teachers engineers physicians. castro called them scum and said they were leaving for economic
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reasons. >> i am going to interrupt you for a second because i know you have a flight to catch. i want to say something before you leave. this is the news of today. "dissidents arrested for protests near cuban national assembly." so much has changed. "a group of protesters were arrested as they tried to protest near the cuban national assembly. the civil resistance front took out a sign demanding the elimination of castro's draconian laws, that ever wonderful social dangerousnesss and the eradication of the human rights --
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" both leaders of this group are freely and openly testifying in front of the house of representatives and washington, d.c., this morning. what a contrast. you have to hop on a plane, and i know you will be marching with the ladies in white on sunday. we will pray for you. we will pray for all of the people of cuba. you make us proud. you make freedom and liberty shine. [speaking spanish] >> [speaking spanish]
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>> thank you so much. thank you. now move your butt over to the airport, because that is free commerce in action. they will not hold that plane. only in castro's cuba will they hold it. sarah, and then i don't know if mr. seal will speak as well. >> [speaking spanish] >> if you will allow me, i would like to speak about the private sector in cuba. there is no private sector in cuba. where there is no freedom to negotiate, the so-called self entrepreneurs who are very --
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who are a very tiny minority are constantly blackmailed and manipulated by the regime. they must respond to the interests of the regime in order to keep their businesses running. they cannot have their own unions. they cannot defend their rights. that is why i insist -- no type of commerce with cuba benefits the people. whatever enters cuba remains in the hands of the regime. whatever money enters cuba remains in the hands of the regime. i also want to say i feel a deep
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sadness every time i think of political prisoners. it is very hard in the 21st century that in the 21st century there are still people in my country who are in prison for their ideas. that there are so many marginalized people who cannot finish their studies because of their ideas. but it is not only this. many youth who are not directly involved in activity also suffer from persecution and also suffer from discrimination because they are the children of opposition activists.
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it is a crime that youth cannot pursue their studies. and that they desperately seek in prostitution a means through which to maintain their families. we condemn the castro regime. we want a free, just, and democratic country. >> thank you so much. i regret that i have a plane to catch as well. i don't know if you will be able to give mr. sale a chance to respond.
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the flight, i just remembered. it is not going to wait for me, either. >> briefly, thank you. thank you for the series of questions and comments. without wanting to enter into a debate about how you characterize human rights in cuba, i think it is clear that no one denies their serious human rights problems on the island. the question is how to address them and what the united states government can do. i think the policy of engagement, the policy of others, some who testified in the senate the other day supported by the catholic church in cuba, endorsed by the pope, and a number of republicans as well as democrats in this congress is endorsed. the messages there is a strong view that the best way to address the human rights situation in cuba is engagement. >> if any of you want to make
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final comments as we conclude the hearing, i would respectfully disagree and i thank you for your candor. we have tried that before, and it seems to me it is not about isolation, it is about meaningful engagement, where the steps that we take are predicated on just observing universally recognized human rights. we are only asking that the universal human rights treaties that have been enacted with concurrent and full all-in by the countries of the world be followed. and certainly the convention against torture, which has been violated with impunity by castro and is one of the most in greed egregious and heinous acts one human being can commit against another -- have you ever
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asked to meet with a political prisoner in prison? no? i hope you would. i have made it my business, 35 years as a member of congress, to meet with dissidents everywhere and anywhere i go when it is an oppressive regime. i always try to go meet with prisoners to show some solidarity with those enduring daily acts of torture. the book that got me into fighting for religious freedom frankly, in 1981, was "torture for christ," who talked about just like in the prisons of cuba, where torture is commonplace. then another book that i mentioned earlier talked about
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these tortures that never ended. it even talked about ho chi minh pole thats when jack in, and there is no sleep. you never know when you were going to get another shot in the face, in the nose, in the groin area. they would use these ho chi minh poles. they were designed by sadists to cause the worst possible pain on men and women. and then the abuses on people as well. dr. bissett talked about how they punched his teeth. major, major problems, just beatings beatings, and more beatings. i honestly believe castro and those who have committed these atrocities ought to be held to
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account by the world for crimes against humanity. rather than invite it in as partners. yes, you have got to do with dictators as a country, but to have human rights as an issue maybe an issue, but not the issue, is a serious mistake. and the embargo, for the record -- and perhaps some of the witnesses want to speak to this -- there has been robust trade with the european union, canada, and other countries of the world with cuba for decades. there has been no diminution whatsoever with torture, child sex trafficking. if anything, it has facilitated with those who travel the world to rent a little boy or girl
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when they travel to cuba. the international megan's law enacted for the third time, so that convicted pedophiles, we will notice countries, when people are leaving to go on sex tourism trips. how horrific is it that the government from cuba actually benefits financially from that. if that is not accurate, then allow a full-scale investigation because we have so many stories. i would put major parts of this into the record. the trafficking victims protection act has established what we call the tip report. it comes out every year. cuba, again, has been designated an egregious violator, a tier three country. the idea of trade and somehow there will be matriculation with more trade with a dictatorship
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toward democracy did not work in vietnam. they have gotten worse. it has not worked in china. zhejiang payingping is in love with mao zedong. even many of our businesses are learning that if you do not respect human rights international property rights and the like are another casualty of a dictatorship. when people talk about the internet being opened, i am the one who held the hearings right in this room, several times during but one truly historic one was google, microsoft cisco. yes, it was in china. swore them all in and they were all part of the censorship. we know the castro regime has great capabilities. , as do other dictators to
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ensure that the internet whether it be e-mails or anything else, will be closely for the surveilled so that more of the best and the greatest and brightest of cuba are found and apprehended and thrown into prison in cuba. china has literally written the book on how a dictatorship can control the internet with a firewall. finally, i would say this testimony from these unbelievably brave women and men who has suffered at the hands of castro has helped tear off the veil, and thankfully through c-span and the media that are here, and the compliment and the woman, you are bearing truth and every witness to a pervasive
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situation that castro craves and i believe has just gotten a helping hand. this was not the time to take that view. there should have been an effort to say human rights first. as you said, then economic issues and other kinds of engagements. but as we have seen -- i have seen one statement after another saying nothing is going to change. if anything, with the rearrest of at least five or maybe more of the 53 and others have been rounded up, just shows that they are intent on doubling down and making it even worse for the dissidents. so thank you for again bearing witness to the truth and for exposing these crimes against humanity. if you would like to make any
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final comments, i would like to start with you. >> only to say that i have the deepest respect for your commitment to human rights, particularly your focus on child and human trafficking. i am happy to continue that discussion. the only specific thing i would say on the human trafficking issue is that if you look at the u.n. human trafficking reports on cuba, they are different than our tier three listing. cuba has refused to dialogue with the united states on this issue. i believe that has been changing. >> the problem has been with some human bureaucracies. i held a hearing in this room on elian gonzalez. reverend walker came and presented testimony and was waxing eloquent about how the child mortality rate is so low.
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and i had read the reports that came out of certain agencies that suggested that was so. and i asked him, because i know of one, as witnesses have said earlier, trusting government officials to tender honest numbers -- if you believe that, i will sell you the brooklyn bridge. there is no reliability, no independent confirmation. there are no crosschecks or checks and balances. i also pointed out that an ob/gyn afro-cuban, a great man who has horribly suffered for his views on his belief in human rights -- he exposed eugenics policies in cuba, where children who have disabilities are routinely killed through coercive abortion. some of these kids never make it to birth because they have been killed by the state. that is another crime against humanity. it was called that at the nuremberg war crimes tribunal
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what the 90's did to the polish women and others. -- what the nazis did two two polish women and others. there is so much showcasing going on, but the ability to discern the real facts when others bear witness that that is not the case is very large. ms. fonseca? >> [speaking spanish] >> yes, i have something to say. i remember that in 1990 -- i do not have a precise amount, a precise number.
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my youngest son was born prematurely. and where he was born, i saw several children died. however, i know that the hospital never reported those deaths. i did not like to listen to fidel castro's speeches, but sometimes i had to because you need to hear with the enemy says. and fidel castro is the enemy of cuba. i listened to the dictator's speech that year.
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and he said that -- i don't know what the statistic was, but it referred to the child mortality rate in cuba being very low. but having been pregnant, and having the difficult situation with my son, i had been in two hospitals. and i can assure you that many more children had died. but also, i never received adequate medical assistance in order to help me in childbirth. in cuba, medicine and education are only good for those who
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sympathize with the regime. that is my testimony with regards to the child mortality rate in cuba. and as to what kind of treatment a cuban who dissents from the regime receives in schools and hospitals. >> [speaking spanish] >> i want to clearly establish something before we finish today. maybe it has not been well understood, or maybe it is the regime possibility to produce false the two sticks that sometimes confuses -- false statistics that sometimes confuses people. in spite of the fact that there are some dissidents who do
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support president obama's policy and i am referring to the negotiations, and i can tell you that the minority of dissidents -- i assure you that the majority of dissident leaders in cuba, of opposition leaders in cuba, and it is ample of this is -- and an example of this is the forwarding of rights and freedoms as well as democracy in cuba -- both of these are initiatives have been signed by the most important leaders. there is one less thing which i also want to tell you because i know this is part of the permanent record.
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it is something that has worried me ever since i first heard it. because i know that the victims do not have the possibility of speaking here. i asked those who are seeing and listening to me, all those who are well-intentioned and listening -- i ask you to closely follow the repressive situation in cuba right now. i want to call attention to how the cuban national front consist of organizations being repressed. not the day before yesterday but the right now are being repressed because they are demanding freedom and democracy.
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finally, the struggle for cuban freedom has caused a lot of pain, a lot of hurt, a lot of dead, a lot of political prisoners. and that is why we cannot allow that a maneuver by rowraul castro can result in understanding of the u.s. government that may contribute to the continuity of the regime. i assure you that the permanent of the regime in power, i assure you that neil castro is him can be -- that neo-castroism can be
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worse than what the people have suffered. i want to thank you. the cuban resistance, in spite of this agreement, which we consider to be immoral, in spite of the beatings, the imprisonment, the cuban resistance will continue its struggle. we are not going to surrender our country's destiny to anyone. because we are convinced that the principles and the destiny of our country should not be decided on a negotiating table. the destiny and the freedom of a country should not be decided at
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a negotiating table that the people have been excluded from. i think the u.s. congress and those in cuba listening to us. and i return to cuba after this experience much more convinced of the path that we have taken. and i reiterate what is my slogan. i will not leave and i will not be quiet. long live free cuba. >> thank you so much for that eloquent courage. thank you for your testimonies and your leadership. the hearing is adjourned. >> this morning, a discussion on
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the rise of china's military and economy and the implications for u.s. national security and defense spending. the brookings institution hosts the event live at 10:00 a.m. eastern. you can see it on c-span3. later, a look at libertarian policy priorities in 2015. we would bring that event to you starting at noon eastern on c-span3. >> the political landscape has changed with the 114th congress. not only are there 43 new republicans and 15 new democrats in the house and 12 new republicans and one democrat in the senate, there are eight women in congress including the first african-american woman in the house. keep track of the members of congress using congressional chronicle on they have information including voting results in each session
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of congress. new congress, best access, on c-span2, c-span radio, and [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] >> live today on c-span, washington journal is next. 2012 green party nominee dr. jill stein announces her plans for the 2016 presidential election. at 1:00 p.m. eastern, national security advisor susan rice discusses the president's national security strategy. later at 2:10 p.m., we join president obama at a town hall meeting at id tech community college in indiana. coming up at 7:45 a.m. eastern representative donna edwards of maryland, the cochair of the democratic policy committee on how the president's 2016 budget
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affects the federal reserve -- the federal workforce. john fleming will talk about his position on the freedom caucus, designed to challenge the republican study committee. >> on this broadcast last week in an effort to honor and thank a veteran who me and so many others, i made a mistake recalling the events of 12 years ago and it did not take long to hear from brave men and women on the aircrews who were also in that desert. i want to apologize. i said i was traveling on a craft that was hit by rpg fire. instead i was in a following aircraft. we went after the incident and spent to have nights in a sandstorm in the iraq desert. this was a bungled