December 18, 2014
DECISION TO RECOGNIZE CUBAN GOVERNMENT WITHOUT ASSURANCE OF REFORM WRONGHEADED
Washington D.C. – Executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation Marion Smith today released the following statement on President Barack Obama’s plan to begin efforts to normalize diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba:
“For decades both Republican and Democratic presidents have maintained a policy of refusing to accept the legitimacy of the Communist Party’s rule in Cuba. The White House decision to recognize as legitimate the anti-democratic, corrupt, and murderous government of Cuba without receiving any assurances of democratic reform and greater freedom for the Cuban people is wrongheaded. The hope that economic cooperation will lead to political reform and respect for human rights is a model proven unworkable by the President’s own examples of China and Vietnam, where there continues to be no plural party system, no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no independent judiciary, and where there are widespread human rights violations including forced labor camps—after decades of growing economic cooperation with the United States. Beijing’s suppression of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong is only the latest in an unbroken record of human rights violations since the ‘opening of China’ in 1972. China and Vietnam are terrible precedents for US-Cuba relations.
“Communist Cuba’s release, after five years, of Mr. Gross and the release, after 20 years in prison, of the intelligence agent are welcome. But what of the hundreds of pro-democracy supporters in Cuba who still languish in jail or under house arrest? The President stated his desire to ‘cut loose the shackles of the past’ in relation to Cuba, but this can only be achieved by demanding justice for the many grave human rights abuses and atrocities committed by the Communist government of Cuba. To neither mention nor demand accountability for these crimes does a great disservice to the victims and to the people of Cuba. In this instance, the United States should be focused on the interests and wellbeing of the Cuban people and not the legitimacy of the Castro government, which this year played a sinister ‘advisory’ role in helping the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro to violently crackdown on pro-democracy protestors in Venezuela.”
The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation is a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes. Recently VOC has announced its efforts to break ground on an international museum on communism in Washington in 2017.
For more information or to schedule a press interview please contact Ayla Ybarra at [email protected] or (202) 629-9500.