More than 140 Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sent a letter to the Organization of American States, the E.U., and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday demanding action against Cuba’s communist regime — including an international criminal tribunal.
The letter read:
After more than six decades of brutally oppressive rule, the Cuban people are risking their lives to loudly denounce the disastrous communist regime that has time and time again failed to promote and protect the general welfare of its citizens. It is time to finally end the evil and murderous reign of the communist, illegitimate Cuban regime that has murdered, tortured and oppressed for far too long.
The letter comes a week after Cuba’s largest anti-government protests in decades broke out in more than 40 municipalities on the island. Protesters were met with gunfire and beaten in the streets. Independent media in Cuba estimated that as many as 5,000 people have been arrested or disappeared since protests began, Breitbart News reported, though the names of only about 600 individuals are confirmed. Current figurehead President Miguel Díaz-Canel openly called on civilians to violently attack protesters on the streets in an “order of combat” issued last week.
In the letter, lawmakers suggested an international criminal tribunal be established to investigate Cuba’s alleged crimes against humanity. Lawmakers named organizations like Justice Cuba, Cuba Archives, and the Cuban American Bar Association, which “have already been compiling the names and crimes of those who have committed human rights abuses.”
The Justice Cuba International Commission previously presented testimony from former political prisoners who witnessed torture and atrocities perpetrated by the Cuban government. As Breitbart News previously reported, Justice Cuba compiled legal evidence and completed its investigation into Cuba’s human rights abuses in 2018. At the time, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) urged former President Donald Trump’s administration to indict former Cuban dictator Raúl Castro, but action was never taken.
Since then, the organization has been in search of a tribunal in order to “successfully try Cuban government officials accused of torture and other atrocities against the population on the island.”
“We encourage you to work with us in forming an International Criminal Tribunal for Cuba for crimes against humanity and work to hold the Communist regime accountable,” lawmakers said in the letter.
In addition to a tribunal, Republicans want the international community to “immediately end diplomatic relations” and “end all financial support to the regime.”
The letter continued:
A full withdrawal of financial support by the international community will end a critical lifeline that allows the Cuban regime to maintain its tight grip on power. Any nation that stands for freedom, democracy and human rights cannot also continue to support the communist Cuban regime’s brutal oppression with appeasement policies in the form of increased trade, tourism, extensions of credit or investments in joint ventures with the regime.
Republicans slammed the “failed appeasement policies of the Obama-Biden administration” which “did nothing to promote freedom for the Cuban people or end the oppression forced on them by Cuba’s malevolent dictatorship.”
Lawmakers said, “it only emboldened the regime and funded its campaign of oppression.”
“All money that goes into Cuba through any trade, tourism or commercial relationship directly enriches the regime,” lawmakers said in the letter.
Lawmakers additionally asked the international community to work collaboratively to coordinate democratic assistance for the “brave Cuban freedom advocates,” and emphasized the importance of giving Cubans Internet access to communicate with the outside world. Social media allowed information and photos of the Cuba protests to widely circulate, enabling thousands of Cubans to join in before the regime shut down Internet access on the island. The letter continues:
A primary weapon of dictatorships like the Cuban regime is silencing their opposition: they stop them from talking to each other, from receiving information from those around the world who want to help them, and from getting the images of the regime’s oppression to the outside world.
Overall, lawmakers said the 62-year-old regime, the oldest dictatorship on the Western Hemisphere, has remained in tact long enough without being held accountable:
It’s time to end this terrible plague of communism on the Cuban people. It’s time for freedom and democracy to prevail. We urge you to stand up for a free Cuba and show your commitment to freedom with immediate action to support their cause. The time for democracy in Cuba is now.
The request for action comes as Democrats and Republicans spar over how to handle Cuba. Many Democrats have sought to blame the U.S. economic embargo of Cuba for the island’s problems, while most Republicans and protesters blame Cuba’s corrupt Communist government.
After more than a week of inaction, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced that the U.S. will sanction “one Cuban individual and one Cuban entity for serious human rights abuse.” His administration is also reportedly working with the private sector to figure out how to restore Internet to the island and will restaff the U.S. Embassy in Havana (where several ambassadors were mysteriously sickened), among other measures.