Democrat Senator Critical Of Obama: “I Have Not Seen Any Movement Towards Greater Freedom For The Cuban People”

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama attends Cuban Independence Day celebrations in Miami

(Image Weasel Zippers)

Even though the majority of the Democrats, and many of the Republicans, in Washington are supportive of President Obama’s plan to reestablish normal relations with Cuba, there are still a few who remember the horrors of the Castro regime.

Agri-Pulse reports that during a hearing on Wednesday Democrat Senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, said that he is concerned about the President’s plan to continue talks with the Communist nation. Mainly because he hasn’t seen any indication that the Castro regime is allowing it’s people greater freedom:

“WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015– While the agricultural industry is anticipating more business due to President Barack Obama’s actions to normalize relations with Cuba, several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today questioned the administration’s ability to negotiate with a totalitarian communist state known for human rights abuses.

Obama declared in December that he would support normalized relations with the nation led by President Raul Castro, including lifting a half-century old trade embargo. The administration is beginning the fourth round of discussion with Cuban counterparts this week.

…However, during the hearing Wednesday, senators listed several human rights violations that continue in Cuba, including arbitrary arrests, harsh prison conditions, as well as restrictions on free speech, Internet access and academic freedom.

Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat on the panel, has been highly critical of the administration’s plan. He said the Cuban government has made more than 1,600 arbitrary political arrests so far in 2015.

“I have deep concerns that the more these talks progress, the more the administration continues to entertain unilateral concessions without – in return – getting agreement on fundamental issues that are in our national interest,” he said.

He criticized the administration’s planned removal of Cuba from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism that will be finalized later this month. He noted that terrorists enjoy safe haven in Cuba, including a criminal on FBI’s most wanted terrorist list for murdering a New Jersey state trooper, and two others wanted for killing a New Mexico state trooper and hijacking a U.S. civilian plane.

Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982. Other countries on the list are Iran, Sudan and Syria.

Additionally, “I have not seen any movement toward greater freedom for the Cuban people,” Menendez said. “Obama may have outstretched his hand, but the Castros still have their fists held real tight.”

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida echoed Senator Menendez’s words of caution by adding that any financial benefits which Cuba may enjoy through American tourism will only end up in the pocket of the military since the majority of the hotels in the tourist areas are owned by the Castro regime.



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