Speaker Boehner to Host Cuban Dissidents at State of the Union

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will be hosting Cuban dissidents, Ohio families and employers, and students from the Consortium of Catholic Academies (CCA) of Washington D.C. at Tuesday’s State of the Union.

According to the Speaker’s office, Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antunez) and Antunez’s wife Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera — leaders in the fight for human rights and freedom in Cuba — will be seated in the Speaker’s box come speech time.

The pair’s presence will highlight the recent, controversial efforts by the Obama administration to normalize relations with Cuba while the fight for freedom and democracy there continues. Boehner has said the normalization efforts “emboldens all state sponsors of terrorism.”

The Speaker’s office described Antunez as “a leader of a non-violent movement for human rights and democracy in Cuba” who spent more than 17 years as a political prisoner of the island’s dictatorship.

“Since his release from prison in 2007, Antunez has continued to advocate for the freedoms and rights of all Cubans,” the Speaker’s Office added. “In an interview, Antunez stressed his commitment to this movement, ‘I think that my faith in the ideas for which I fight never ceased and never will cease. I believe that faith in God and in this just cause which I defend is what helped me survive.’”

Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera is founder and president of the Rosa Parks Feminine Civic Rights Movement. According to the Speaker’s office, it seeks “to fight against the human rights violations in the Castro regime. Among other humanitarian activities, the movement also works to help homeless women and children and find them a place to live.”

Also in attendance will be residents of Boehner’s district who reflect aspects of Boehner’s “five-point” plan to revive the economy: “Reform our tax code. Solve our spending problem. Reform our legal system. Reform our regulatory system. Improve our education system.” There will also be Catholic school students from D.C.

Boehner’s guests, according to the Speaker’s Office: 

Fritz Borke, President of Borke Mold Specialists, Inc., Hamilton, Ohio.  Responsible for the new seats in the Great American Ball Park – home of the Cincinnati Reds – Borke Mold Specialists, Inc. manufactures molds for plastics to serve a number of industries.  President Fritz Borke highlights how many of the five points – from reining in excessive regulations to reforming the tax code – will help businesses like his focus on growing and creating jobs in the area.

Aaron and Betsy Ward, owners of The A&B Coffee & Cake Co. in Greenville, Ohio.  Aaron and Betsy Ward own and run a small business in Greenville and they are also raising a family.  With a focus on education, addressing the debt, and reforming the tax code, the five points reflect many of the Ward family’s priorities. 

Jamie McGregor, Vice President, Business Development of McGregor Metalworking in Springfield, Ohio.  A family owned and operated business, McGregor Metalworking got its early start in 1939.  Today, McGregor Metalworking is a prominent local job creator in Springfield, and Jamie McGregor shares how the five points address a number of the issues his company is facing.

Dr. Christopher Grove, M.D., F.A.C.S., from Troy, Ohio.  Dr. Christopher Grove is a board-certified, general surgeon and the current medical director of Miami County Surgeons.  The importance of fixing the legal system by boosting transparency, restoring fairness, and enacting real medical malpractice reform – all to better protect patients, victims, and consumers while giving confidence to doctors, manufacturers,  and small business owners – is told through the lens of this surgeon from Troy, Ohio.

Dr. Jo Blondin, President of Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio. Clark State Community College plays a critical role in helping area students match skills to employment needs.  Dr. Blondin’s story showcases the need to address the skills gap in this country and educate more of America’s kids – regardless of their zip code.

Rodney and Gail Burger, owners and operators of Dream Acres Farm in Camden, Ohio. Ohio’s 8th Congressional District is one of the largest agricultural districts in the Buckeye State.  Known for their iconic corn mazes, Rodney and Gail Burger represent the areas of the five points that will help this crucial industry address the skyrocketing costs that families face with every trip to the grocery store.

As he has each year since becoming Speaker, Boehner has invited Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, along with students and faculty with the Consortium of Catholic Academies (CCA). 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  Cardinal Wuerl was installed in June 2006 as the sixth Archbishop of Washington.  He was elevated to the College of Cardinals at the November 20, 2010 Consistory by Pope Benedict XVI and given the Church of Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) as his titular church in Rome.

Students and faculty at the Consortium of Catholic Academies (CCA).  CCA is a non-profit organization supporting students of four inner-city Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Kayla Bridgers

Maurquice Brown-Thomas

Razjae Burton

Robbi Burton, Sr.

Carlos Carcamo

Katherine Conley

Teresa Fitzgerald

Kenneth Haydock

Elizabeth Heil

Dylan Knott

Martha Mazura

Malyk Thomas

James Wills, Jr.