JULY 26, 2012
The Obama Administration has granted officials from a country that appears on the State Department’s list of terrorism-sponsoring nations visas to attend an AIDS conference in Washington D.C. this week.
It’s part of the administration’s effort to combat the deadly, sexually-transmitted disease on a global level and especially in minority communities because they have been hit the hardest. But was it really necessary to include officials from Cuba, a communist nation that is a notorious human and civil rights violator? That’s in addition to a decades-long run on the U.S. government’s list of nation’s that sponsor terrorism.
Ironically, in Cuba the government involuntarily isolates AIDS patients in special sanatorium prisons. In the U.S. that would be considered an unacceptable violation of a person’s civil rights. Cuba’s controversial handling of the disease has gained worldwide attention in a number of media and academic reports. Even the nation’s largest mainstream newspaper, known for publishing favorable articles about the island prison, says Cuba’s success in limiting AIDS stems partly from “harsh early tactics.”
A California congresswoman who pushed for the Cuban visas, Oakland Democrat Barbara Lee, hosted the island’s delegation at a Capitol Hill event related to the International AIDS Conference. A D.C.-area group that promotes human rights in Cuba disclosed the names of the Communist officials being courted by Lee, who has worked in Congress to lift the Cuban embargo. They include Dr. Lorenzo Jorge Perez Avila, director of the Pedro Kouri Tropical Medicine Institute, Luis Estruch Rancaño, Deputy Minister of Public Health and Maria Isela Lantero, Director of Cuba’s AIDS Programs.
The nonprofit, Cuba Democracy Advocates, reminds that in May the Obama Administration granted U.S. visas to Cuban Dictator Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, and 60 other regime officials to attend a conference in San Francisco. It’s very likely that Lee, who represents the area in the U.S. House, was behind that as well. The executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates asks: “How would Barbara Lee like it if everyone in her Oakland district suffering from HIV/AIDS was involuntarily imprisoned?”
Lee, a prominent member of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, is a huge admirer of ailing Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul. During a 2009 trip to the island, Lee praised Fidel and said spending time with him was “quite a moment to behold.” Ironically, during the love fest one of Cuba’s best known political prisoners, a black doctor named Oscar Elias Biscet, was serving more than 20 years in a deplorable prison simply because he stood up for human rights by following the peaceful resistance of Martin Luther King Jr.
Also of interesting note is that the country of about 11 million people has a majority black population yet it is ruled by an overwhelmingly white government that openly discriminates against black and mixed-race Cubans. The regime has publicly announced that it does not believe in civil rights.
In 2003, when three black young men tried to hijack a Havana ferry to the U.S., Castro executed them by firing squad even though no one got hurt in the incident. The idea was to send a message to the island’s black majority so, hours after a swift and secret trial, the men were murdered for what the Cuban government called “very grave acts of terrorism.”
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