A resolution supporting Cubans protesting the island’s Communist regime was approved unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and will move next to the Senate floor for approval by the full body.
We condemn "the Cuban government’s violent response to the thousands of Cuban citizens who have taken to the streets to peacefully call for respect for basic human rights and the end of the dictatorship in Cuba," the committee said a statement.
Thousands of Cubans poured into the streets two weeks ago to demonstrate against the island's Communist government, the biggest protests since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, triggered by a shortage of food and medicine supplies.
An estimated 700 were arrested by the Cuban government, according to human rights organizations, reports The New York Times. Some have been convicted in quick trials that don’t require the presence of a defense lawyer.
Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is "speaking unanimously in absolute solidarity with the thousands of Cubans risking it all to liberate themselves from the iron hand of dictatorship that has crushed their spirit for more than 60 years.”
Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the "oppressive Communist Cuban regime continues to hold the people of Cuba hostage after 62 years of repression and constant abuses ... The U.S. must stand with the courageous people of Cuba as they fight for their basic freedoms and against tyranny.”
The United States last week imposed sanctions on a Cuban security minister and an interior ministry special forces unit for alleged human rights abuses during a crackdown on the protests earlier this month.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the world has seen decades of deep Cuban frustration over inept, corrupt, and cruel governance boil over.
"While I have long argued for a change in the failed U.S. policy toward Cuba, the Cuban people know the real source of their island’s lost potential rests squarely with the ruling dictatorship.”
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