Republicans call for criminal tribunal for human rights abuses in Cuba

Republicans call for criminal tribunal for human rights abuses in Cuba
© Greg Nash

A group of more than 140 Republican lawmakers is calling on the U.S., governments of Central and South America and the European Union (EU) to hold an international criminal tribunal to investigate alleged human rights abuses by the Cuban government amid historic protests in the island nation. 

The Republicans, led by Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Top Democrats tout California recall with an eye toward 2022 Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE (Calif.) included the demand in a letter sent to the Organization of American States, the EU and U.S. Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal Republicans demanding Blinken impeachment are forgetting one thing — the Constitution MORE

The lawmakers wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Politico, that following “more than six decades of brutally oppressive rule, the Cuban people are risking their lives to loudly denounce the disastrous communist regime that has time and time again failed to promote and protect the general welfare of its citizens.” 

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“The world must stand with them in this critically important moment,” they added. “As the democratically-elected leaders of the world’s free countries, we write to you today to fervently implore you to take action in support of the Cuban people and their democratic aspirations.” 

“It is time to finally end the evil and murderous reign of the communist, illegitimate Cuban regime that has murdered, tortured and oppressed for far too long,” the lawmakers said. 

The letter specifically called on world leaders to probe reports that “Cuban activists have been regularly kidnapped, unjustly jailed, physically mutilated and murdered.” 

“We encourage you to work with us in forming an International Criminal Tribunal for Cuba for crimes against humanity and work to hold the communist regime accountable,” they added. 

The GOP senators and House members also urged the international community to “emphatically denounce the illegitimate Cuban regime, hold it accountable for its human rights abuses and immediately end diplomatic relations,” as well as “end all financial support to the regime.” 

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Additionally, the lawmakers wrote that the “world’s democracies must work collaboratively to coordinate democratic assistance for the brave Cuban freedom advocates,” and “do everything in our power to make sure the people of Cuba can communicate with each other and the outside world through unfettered internet access, cellular service, cellular and satellite phones, and other technology that may assist the democratic opposition.” 

The demands come as Republicans and Democrats remain largely divided on the best responses to the ongoing Cuban demonstrations amid a severe economic crisis in the country, food shortages and other allegations of corruption by the country’s Communist government. 

Some Democrats have seized on the economic and humanitarian crisis as justification to lift the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba, while GOP members contend that the Biden administration should maintain a tough stance on the Cuban government. 

Officials told The Hill on Tuesday that the White House has established two working groups to evaluate whether to allow remittances to Cuba and reestablish consular services, with a senior administration official saying this would be paired with efforts to “build international pressure against the regime, designating sanctions against those responsible for violence and repression against peaceful protestors, and helping Cubans get access to the internet.”