Cuban Human Rights Leaders Fail To Stop Embargo Bill With AM-Congress-Cuba
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Cuban human rights leaders signed a statement Thursday urging the U.S. Congress to reconsider its position on the Cuban Democracy Act, which toughens the trade embargo against the island.
After searching through the streets of Havana, the rights leaders found a fax machine and were able to transmit their message.
But it never reached its intended readers.
The statement - faxed from an unknown location in Havana to the San Juan office of a Cuban human rights organization - was received hours after the House approved the act, sponsored by Rep. Robert Torricelli, R-N.J.
The two-page statement was a last-minute plea to ″understand that the most fair, sober and urgent thing to do is open all channels of collaboration with Cuba.″
But it was not meant to be.
The vote on the Cuban Democracy Act had already passed on a 275-136 vote. The bill tightens restrictions on foreign subsidiaries of American companies that sell food and other shipments to Cuba.
The rights activists, some of whom have been persecuted by the Cuban government, have said the bill would hurt Cubans, suffering in the worst economic crisis since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.
The signatories were Elizardo Sanchez, president of the Cuban Commission of Human Rights; Francisco Chaviano, president of the National Council for Civil Rights; Rolando Prats Paez, coordinator of the Cuban Social Democrat Current, and Lazaro Lorette Perea, president of the Political Right Defense Association.
″I know the great risk involved in sending a communication like this out of Cuba,″ said Angel Padilla of the Coordinating Council of Cuban Human Rights Organizations in Puerto Rico. ″And it’s even riskier because there are so few fax machines around.
″They have guts,″ he said.