As a response to the arrests of dissidents in Cuba, members of the newly-formed Senate Cuba Working Group sent the following letter to the Chief of the Cuban Interests Section. It urges the Cuban government to release the dissidents and to work toward a de-escalation of tensions between the two nations. April 2, 2003
Chief, Cuban Interests Section
Dear Mr. Rodriguez,
As you may know, a bipartisan group of Senators recently announced the formation of a Senate Working Group on Cuba. This group will work to ease the trade and travel restrictions that have been in place for the last forty years. However, as members of the Working Group – and as advocates for improved relations between the United States and Cuba – we are deeply troubled by recent actions of the Cuban government against Cuban dissidents.
Dozens of Cuban citizens have been arrested or threatened with arrest for promoting human rights or practicing independent journalism. These arrests are deplorable, and we hope that your government will immediately release these dissidents. Unless corrected, the recent actions of the Cuban government will only undermine efforts to expand contacts between the two countries.
In addition, we understand that the Cuban government has begun to restrict the freedom of movement of U.S. diplomats in Cuba. There are reports that the Cuban government may impose further restrictions on U.S. diplomats – or even close the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. This, in our view, would be a tremendous mistake.
Indeed, the increasing tensions between the Cuban government and the U.S. Interests Section in Havana only threaten to deteriorate further our diplomatic relationship. We in Congress believe that the U.S. Interests Section in Havana should follow all diplomatic norms in order to lessen tensions between our two governments, and your government should do its part to bring about a lessening of tensions as well. The current state of relations serves neither country.
The Senate Cuba Working Group (CWG) is a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Senate, dedicated to easing the Cuban embargo and advancing U.S. policy goals in Cuba.