13 June 2012

Cuban beating leads to Senators' denouncement of US visa leniency

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The beating of a Cuban dissident who testified before the American Senate has led to senators to urge President Obama to rethink his leniency in granting Cuban politicians a US visa.

US visa

US Senators have criticised the regime of Cuban President Raul Castro.

Mariela Castro, daughter of current Cuban President Raul Castro, was granted a US visa last month to address several conferences in California on sexual health and culture within Latin America.

As the US and Cuba's relationship has remained in a frosty stalemate since a trade embargo was introduced during the 1960s, the government received widespread criticism from both sides of the aisle.

And now the rhetoric has increased after Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, a native Cuban who spoke to US Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee regarding political and social freedoms within Cuba was allegedly savagely beaten and almost suffocated.

Mr Perez's wife told a Miami-based radio station that Mr Perez, who had already spent 17 years in prison, was abducted at midday and taken to a secret location where he was nearly suffocated with pepper spray and severely beaten.

During an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, himself a child of Cuban immigrants, told the president "enough was enough" and that America's "response must be unparalleled".

Senator Menendez previously criticised the decision to grant Ms Castro a US visa and another then-critic, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, has once again echoed Senator Menendez's comments.

"The regime thugs will eventually be held accountable," said Senator Rubio. "History will not wipe away the blood on their hands."

Senator John Kerry, chairman of the committee to which Mr Perez testified, also commented.

"I echo the calls of Senate colleagues, demanding an end to repression in Cuba and urging international observers to conduct an investigation into [Mr Perez's] detention."


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