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Sen. Cruz on the Senate Floor: ‘To the People of Cuba, We Stand With You - You Have a Right to be Free’

July 15, 2021

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), today delivered remarks on the Senate floor in support of the men and women of Cuba as they fight against their tyrannical communist regime and urged President Biden to directly call out the evils of communism. Read excerpts of his floor remarks below.

WATCH: Sen. Cruz Condemns Communist Cuban Regime, Expresses Support for Cuban Protestors on Senate Floor

"On Sunday, shouts of ‘Libertad!'-‘Freedom!' were heard in dozens of cities and towns all over Cuba as people took to the streets to protest the communist government that has had a stranglehold on that nation for 62 years.

"This socialist regime has tortured, killed, silenced, denied freedom, and driven into exile generations of Cubans, forcing many, including my family, to flee or be murdered. It has cut off Cuba from the rest of the world. It has destroyed its economy, so that today Cubans stand in long lines for food, for medicine, for basic supplies. They endure energy blackouts, and government officials can shut off their censored internet service on a whim-as they did Sunday when the regime panicked about the protests.

"This battle for freedom is personal to me. When Fulgencio Batista staged a coup in Cuba and became a brutal dictator in the 1950's, my father fought against his regime. My dad was imprisoned and tortured. His captors broke his nose and bashed in his front teeth until they were dangling from his mouth. My father fled Cuba, the country he had fought for and had been brutalized trying to save, and in 1957 came to the United States - he came to Texas - with $100 sewn into his underwear. He had nothing. He attended the University of Texas on a student visa and got a job washing dishes making 50 cents an hour.

"In the summer of 1959, soon after Castro had taken over Cuba, my father returned to visit his family and he was horrified by what he saw. It quickly became evident that Castro was even worse than Batista had been. My father's sister, my Tia Sonia, was still there, and she became part of the counterrevolution against Castro. Like her brother, my Tia Sonia was thrown in prison and she was tortured by Castro's goons.

"Growing up, my cousin Bibi and I used to sit at the feet of my dad and my Tia Sonia and hear stories about their fight for freedom-hear their stories about battling in Cuba just like the heroic protesters on the streets are doing today. The freedom of America was the dream that allowed them to endure the brutality of Cuba. America was and is a beacon of hope for all those who, like them, have endured oppression-and that is why we saw so many protestors in Cuba flying American flags on Sunday, because the American flag is a symbol of hope in Havana, in Hong Kong, and all across the globe.

"America must respond. Over the past few days, the world has seen that the American people stand squarely with the men and women of Cuba in their noble fight for liberty.

"Worryingly, however, the Biden administration has stopped short of strong, clear support for the brave protesters marching in the street and has been reluctant to issue clear and unequivocal condemnation for the communist dictatorship that oppresses those people. In statement after statement, as protesters swept into the streets literally risking their lives to stand for freedom, administration officials have issued lukewarm and guarded statements.

"After being shamed into finally taking stronger positions, President Biden finally put out a statement saying that the protesters were exercising their right to peacefully assemble. Even that is wrong. In Cuba they have no right to peacefully assemble because the Cuban dictatorship is out there arresting the protesters right now. It's out there beating the protesters right now. It's out there imprisoning the protesters right now. They are speaking with great courage and the communist dictatorship is doing everything it can to silence what they're saying.

"The Biden administration has also said the protests are about COVID-19 vaccines. That unfortunately doesn't even pass the laugh test. Just this week, the White House press secretary said the protests were about ‘misadministration' in Cuba-mismanagement. Well, the last I checked, the protesters in the streets weren't chanting ‘Manage better.' They were chanting ‘Libertad!' - ‘Freedom.' They were chanting ‘Down with the dictatorship.'

"America has a unique role in the world, a role to provide leadership a role to speak the truth and at times of inflection at times when people are risking their lives for freedom, the leadership of America matters. Here's what President Biden needs to say to the Cuban people. To the Cuban people, we stand with you. To the Cuban people, you are right that you have a right to liberty. You have a right to speech. You have a right to worship. You have a right to live your lives and raise your children and be free of oppression and torture and murder. And President Biden needs to go on to say the communist dictatorship that oppresses you is evil. Period - full stop."

[...]

"Presidential silence is heard in Cuba. Presidential clarity is heard in Cuba. I want to close by reading a text that I got this week from my mom. My mom and our family is in communication with family friends still in Cuba. Here's what a close friend of the family said: ‘Things are much more serious than what is reported on TV. This friend of the family described that she has no food. Same for almost everyone. Yesterday she had a bowl of thin soup. Nothing more. She was asking for help for the first time - no way to get money to Cuba. Banks are closed. Five protesters were killed in Santiago. Radio stations are being taken over by protesters. Internet shut down so no further contact available. Matanzas, where my father was born, is a hotspot for COVID, and it sounds as though desperate times are generating desperate measures.'

"To the people of Cuba, I want you to know your message is being heard. Your bravery is being seen. And it's worth it. This is potentially an inflection point. America should stand up and speak boldly on the side of freedom. There's a reason those protesters carry our flags. There is a reason they look to America as a beacon of hope and freedom across the globe. To the people of Cuba, we stand with you. You have a right to be free. And your courage is inspiring. We are inspired by you and the evil thugs who are on the street brutalizing you, they too, will end up in the ash heap of history. The oppression in Cuba will fall and we will once again see ‘Cuba Libre,' a free Cuba. Thanks to the courage and heroism of the Cubans in the street."

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