August 03, 2021

Senate Unanimously Approves Menendez-Authored Resolution in Support of Cuba’s Pro-Democracy Movement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today spoke on the Senate Floor to request the unanimous passage of his bipartisan, bicameral Resolution condemning the Cuban regime’s brazen violence against thousands of Cuban citizens who have taken to the streets to peacefully call for democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms.

Outlining the Biden administration’s bold and effective efforts in recent weeks to support the pro-democracy movement in Cuba, Chairman Menendez said: “While important steps are being taken, more needs to be done. The Cuban people, in this unprecedented hour of uncertainty and need, cannot afford anything less than our full support.  With this Resolution, the Senate will add its voice to the ongoing efforts and reinforce U.S. solidarity with the Cuban people and their efforts to restore democracy and human rights in their country.”

After Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla.) tried to block the Resolution from passing unless it was amended, Senator Menendez added: “No one in Congress has a longer or more unwavering track record than I do when it comes to condemning the Cuban regime. This Resolution is a strong rebuke of the regime’s recent actions and also achieves the bipartisan opportunity we need for Senate approval. There comes a time when we have to put actions over words. Today, the Senate has a chance to act…This Resolution already has the approval of 99 senators and if the senator were to insist on his amendment, the junior senator from Florida would be the only one standing in its way.”

The objection was subsequently dropped and the resolution was adopted by the full Senate.

Last week, Chairman Menendez addressed the chamber in a 40-minute speech to examine the trajectory of U.S. policy towards Cuba, outlining his recent consultations with President Biden and Secretary Blinken on how to build on decades of efforts by Cuban patriots to advance the cause of freedom on the island. As part of that effort, Senator Menendez also joined President Biden at the White House last Friday to meet with a group of leading Cuban American leaders from across the country to discuss how to continue supporting the island’s surging pro-democracy movement and the importance of securing respect for the universal rights and freedoms of the Cuban people.

 

Find a copy of the Resolution HERE.

 

Approved unanimously by the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Chairman Menendez’s Resolution was co-sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) Senate Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Chairman Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

 

A concurrent Resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Charlie Crist (D-FL-13), Kathy Castor (D-FL-14), Val Demings (D-FL-10), Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Lois Frankel (D-FL-21), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY-11), Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-07), Chris Smith (R-NJ-04), Darren Soto (D-FL-09), and Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24).

 

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s Floor remarks as delivered below.

 

“Mr. President, I’m proud to come to the floor today to ask for unanimous consent on this bipartisan Resolution expressing solidarity with the people of Cuba. This Resolution passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee by a voice vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.

 

I want to thank the senior senator from Florida for his partnership on this Resolution, which has the support of Senators Durbin, Kaine, and Senator Risch, the Ranking Member on the Foreign Relations Committee, as well as many others on both sides of the aisle.

 

In passing this Resolution today, the U.S. Senate can send a powerful message about the truly historic events occurring in Cuba in recent weeks.

 

On July 11, in an unprecedented wave of demonstrations across the island, the Cuban people peacefully took to the streets and raised their voices to call for freedom and an end to tyranny.

 

We saw the courage of the Cuban people. Images of Cubans chanting ‘abajo la dictadura,’ which means ‘down with the dictatorship’ and singing ‘Patria y Vida’ or ‘Fatherland and Life,’ spread around the globe.

 

Yet, the Díaz Canel regime responded with an authoritarian crackdown and violent repression out of fear of losing its iron grip over the Cuban people.

 

The regime cut the internet to stop the Cuban people from accessing social media – a tool they were bravely using to open the eyes of world.

 

Who does that? Only a country that fears its people shuts down the internet.

 

But it was too late. The truth went viral.

 

The regime has arrested more than 700 people, and most remain incommunicado. Dozens more are already being subjected to summary trials, without access to legal defense or even a veneer of due process.

 

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have all spoken out against the Cuban regime’s campaign of repression.

 

President Biden rightfully and repeatedly denounced the regime’s actions and has announced two rounds of Global Magnitsky sanctions on human rights abusers.

 

The President has brought together allies of Cuban freedom both at home and abroad. On Friday, the President convened a meeting of Cuban-American leaders to discuss this crisis and hear our suggestions on how best to support the pro-democracy efforts underway in Cuba.

 

Last week, Secretary of State Blinken led a coalition of 20 countries in a joint statement to express international solidarity with the Cuban people and their rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the freedom to determine their own future.

 

While important steps are being taken, more needs to be done. The Cuban people, in this unprecedented hour of uncertainty and need, cannot afford anything less than our full support.

 

With this Resolution, the Senate will add its voice to the ongoing efforts and reinforce U.S. solidarity with the Cuban people and their efforts to restore democracy and human rights in their country.

 

The same Resolution is also being offered in the House of Representatives on the same bipartisan basis. Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of calendar number 111, S. Res. 310, further, that the Committee-reported substitute amendment to the Resolution be agreed to, the Resolution, as amended be agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table.

 

 

Mr. President, reserving the right to object. I totally agree that the Castro regime and its prodigy is a communist, socialist dictatorship. A tyranny.

 

Before the senator was ever in this institution or involved with the issue, for 30 years I have been saying exactly that.

 

The senator, however, knows that in order to accept an amendment to a Resolution that has been hotlined in both caucuses, this process could not move forward. I cannot not simply accept the amendment. I would have to go through the whole process.

 

And the fact of the matter is I think there is a fierce urgency of now.

 

This Resolution already has the approval of 99 senators and if the senator were to insist on his amendment, the junior senator from Florida would be the only one standing in its way.

 

This bipartisan Resolution is co-sponsored by 19 senators. The initiative is co-led by Senator Rubio, the senior senator from Florida and the Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. It is sponsored by Senator Risch, the Ranking Member of the full Foreign Relations Committee.

 

It is supported by Senator Cruz, Romney, and Hagerty—all of them leading Republican voices on the Foreign Relations Committee.

 

And with this strong Republican backing, the Foreign Relations Committee passed this Resolution last Wednesday on a voice vote with overwhelming bipartisan support.

 

Now intervening we’ve had this infrastructure bill, so we're here trying to get this finally done.

 

We have an opportunity to act today and send a powerful bipartisan message in support of the Cuban people and condemning the regime’s brutal repression.

 

I personally agree with the sentiment of the junior senator from Florida, but that reality is a reality that has existed. We’re talking about the reality today of trying to send a bipartisan, bicameral message. This Resolution already condemns its present Cuban dictator – Miguel Díaz Canel - by name for his direct role in ordering a violent crackdown against the Cuban people. It also documents the mass wave of arrests in Cuba, and it denounces, in plain language, the regime’s brutal violence and its use of summary trials to arbitrarily sentence protesters who have no access to a lawyer.

 

So let me be clear, I have led U.S. and international efforts to oppose Cuba’s communist dictatorship for 30 years in Congress, including my role in helping create the Cuba Democracy Act and drafting the LIBERTAD Act. 

 

No one in Congress has a longer or more unwavering track record than I do when it comes to condemning the Cuban regime.

 

This Resolution is a strong rebuke of the regime’s recent actions and also achieves the bipartisan opportunity we need for Senate approval.

 

There comes a time when we have to put actions over words. Today, the Senate has a chance to act.

 

We should not delay another hour in passing this Resolution and because that’s exactly what would happen, I have to object to the senator’s amendment.” 

 

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