Boehner: Obama should condemn assault on Cuban activist

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerA time for war, a time for peace — and always a time to defend America Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Soleimani killing deepens distrust between Trump, Democrats MORE on Thursday questioned President Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic ties with Havana after an assault on Boehner’s State of the Union guest, the Cuban democracy leader known as Antúnez.

Antúnez, whose formal name is Jorge Luis García, was among several Cuban political and human rights activists who were allegedly attacked by Castro regime allies on Wednesday in Panama City, Panama. The assault, which also injured a U.S. citizen, was caught on video by La Estrada de Panama.


Obama is headed to Panama City for the Summit of the Americas conference, where he expected to informally speak with Cuban leader Raúl Castro. Boehner called on Obama to condemn the attacks when he meets with Castro, calling them “an outrage and a reminder of the brutal character of the Castro regime.  

“It raises serious questions about the wisdom of revisiting diplomatic relations with Cuba and removing the country from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror while this dictatorship, which practices repression at home and supports violence throughout the region, continues to hold power,” Boehner said in a statement.

“I hope that President Obama, if and when he has a conversation with the Cuban dictator during the Organization of American States summit, will take the opportunity to condemn this violence in the strongest possible terms and reaffirm that the United States should and must always stand on the side of human rights and democracy against Communist tyranny.”

Antúnez spent more than 17 years in a Cuban prison after speaking out against the Castro regime. Boehner invited the pro-democracy leader to Obama’s speech in January to voice opposition to the president’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.