Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) slammed the Obama administration today for approving a visa for Cuban dictator Raul Castro’s daughter.
“I am disappointed by the decision to issue a visa to Mariela Castro Epsin, the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro,” Menendez said. “Ms. Castro is a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy, who has defended the regime’s brutal repression of democracy activists.”
Mariela Castro Espin, director of Cuba’s state-funded National Center for Sex Education, requested a visa to speak at the Latin American Studies Association conference in San Francisco next week.
“Neither the United States Government nor the Latin American Studies Association should be in the business of providing a totalitarian regime, like the one in Cuba, with a platform from which to espouse its twisted rhetoric,” Menendez said. “Moreover, while an American is being held hostage in a Cuban prison I believe that issuance of a visa to Ms. Castro sends the wrong message to the regime and to Cuba’s struggling opposition movement.”
Yesterday, the State Department was evasive about whether Castro would receive a visa.
“We do not discuss specific details of individual visa cases; visa records are confidential under U.S. law,” said a State Department spokesperson. “The rules and procedures for adjudicating visa applications are established under U.S. law and Department regulations. Each visa request is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. There is no blanket ban on issuing visas to Cuban Government officials.”
“She is a prominent member of Cuba’s Communist party and I don’t believe that the authority exists to provide Ms. Castro with a visa pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 5377, which prohibits providing nonimmigrant visas to Cuban nationals that are officers or employees of the Government or the Communist Party of Cuba,” Menendez countered.