Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) cited the hunger strikes recently undertaken by about 30 Cuban democracy leaders as a reminder that the Obama administration should “come to grips with the lack of progress achieved by its pro-engagement policy.”
The democracy activists, including Jorge Luís García Pérez Antúnez and Martha Beatriz Roque, demand the release of political prisoners, including Jorge Vazquez Chaviano, a member of the Central Opposition Coalition sentenced to 18 months of “correctional work without internment” in March 2011 for “unlawful economic activities.”
Vazquez Chaviano was supposed to be released Sept. 9 but has been kept in custody. When supporters including his wife and mother protested this, they were detained on Sept. 10 and warned against speaking out publicly.
“Antúnez and Martha Beatriz Roque are two of Cuba’s most courageous heroes in the resistance movement, and I am deeply concerned about their deteriorating health as they join scores of other Cubans in conducting hunger strikes to protest the unjust incarceration of Jorge Vazquez Chaviano,” Rubio said today.
“The Castro regime relishes in the suffering of the Cuban people, especially pro-democracy leaders who threaten their grip on power. They would love nothing more than to see these hunger strikes end in death. The international community, with the United States at the forefront, must speak out and draw attention to the suffering of the Cuban people.”
The senator said the administration needs to look at how this term is winding down, with “a more repressive Cuban regime driving the Cuban people to desperate acts like these hunger strikes.”
“The Obama administration should highlight these latest instances of Cuban suffering at the hands of the regime and also come to grips with the lack of progress achieved by its pro-engagement policy,” Rubio said.