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Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter Wednesday to European Union (EU) High Representative Josep Borrell to demand that the organization “expand its assistance” to democracy activists and political prisoners in Cuba.
In addition, the senators demand to Borrell that the EU “renewing your call for the Cuban regime to immediately release Jose Daniel Ferrer, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Osorbo, and all political prisoners” as a way to “maintain the EU’s historic commitment to the Cuban people, human rights, and democracy.”
Senators call for “unwavering pressure” against dictatorship
“As the Cuban people continue undeterred in their push to live free, we write to urge you to express your condemnation of the Cuban dictatorship’s unjust detention of more than 600 political prisoners. Leaders from across Cuban civil society (…) have long been the subject of arbitrary arrests and inhumane treatment.”
While acknowledging and listing some of the pronouncements the EU has made recently on the delicate situation on the Caribbean island, both Cuban-born senators point out that the EU “has not fully leveraged its economic relationship with Cuba to achieve long-fought democratic progress.”
“International pressure on the Cuban regime has worked previously,” Rubio and Menendez recall in the missive. In that sense, they point out that pressure from the international community served to get activist Ferrer’s prison sentence commuted in April 2020, which was reduced to four and a half years of house arrest.
However, Ferrer was imprisoned again this year following the July protests, putting him once again in a “critical, life-threatening state,” as were “hundreds of Cuban freedom fighters.”
Democrat Bob Menendez is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while Marco Rubio, who also sits on that committee, is the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee.