December 13, 2019

Cardin, Colleagues, Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Calling for the Immediate Release of Leading Cuban Democracy Activist José Daniel Ferrer

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, joined chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in introducing a bipartisan Senate resolution calling for the immediate release of Cuban democracy and human rights activist José Daniel Ferrer and other members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU). The resolution also commends efforts by Mr. Ferrer and UNPACU to promote democratic principles and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.  

“Cuba must release activist José Daniel Ferrer from this latest unjust detention. The repeated arrests of political dissidents are unacceptable and the government of Cuba must do more to improve human rights for the island,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “Congress will continue to press Cuba to end such political arrests and urge steps toward genuine freedoms and political pluralism for the Cuban people, which are long overdue.”

“I’m proud to co-lead this resolution that highlights the egregious violation of human rights and torture led by the Castro and Díaz-Canel regime against José Daniel Ferrer, leader of the opposition group UNPACU,” said Senator Rubio. “The United States Senates is sending a strong message of condemnation following Ferrer’s illegitimate five-month arrest. We will continue to raise our voices against the dictatorship’s abuses against members of the opposition and independent press.” 

“For over two months, José Daniel Ferrer has been jailed under inhuman conditions, beaten, tortured, and denied access to medical care by the Cuban regime, all for dedicating his life to promoting democracy and human rights in his homeland,” said Senator Menendez. “I am proud to be joined by such a strong bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in introducing this Resolution to bring international attention to the ongoing repression of dissent in Cuba and the plight of political prisoners and democracy fighters on the island. The world must continue speaking out against this gross violation of human rights, and José Daniel must be freed immediately and without condition.”

“Human rights protections and freedoms of speech, press, and assembly are foundational to any democracy.  Activist José Daniel Ferrer has been a leading voice for implementing these democratic principles despite continuous abuse and imprisonment by the Cuban government,” said Senator Durbin. “If Cuba hopes to ever join the global community of democracies, President Díaz-Canel must immediately release Mr. Ferrer from his arbitrary, cruel imprisonment, cease jailing peaceful opposition voices, and account for the suspicious death of Mr. Ferrer’s colleague Oswaldo Payá.”

“The Castro tyranny is corrupt, murderous, and evil. And there is nothing that Raúl Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel fear more than the light of truth,” said Senator Cruz. “I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bipartisan resolution calling upon the Cuban communist regime to immediately release democracy activist José Daniel Ferrer. One day the world will see a free Cuba, and it is through the courage of dissidents like Mr. Ferrer that we will see freedom restored to Cuba.”

 “José Daniel Ferrer is a committed and outspoken advocate for democracy who has repeatedly risked his liberty and his life in order to promote freedom for his fellow Cubans,” said Senator Collins.  “His arbitrary imprisonment and mistreatment at the hands of Cuban authorities are egregious violations of human rights and must cease immediately.  Our bipartisan resolution expresses the Senate’s solidarity with Mr. Ferrer’s courageous fight for democratic principles, condemns the unjust actions of Cuban authorities, and calls for Mr. Ferrer’s prompt release.”

“Human rights activist José Daniel Ferrer was wrongly jailed by the Cuban regime,” said Senator Kaine.  “This bipartisan resolution sends a strong message to the Cuban government that the world will not ignore the regime’s abuses against its own citizens. Ferrer’s detainment is unconscionable and he should be released immediately.”

José Daniel Ferrer was arbitrarily imprisoned on October 1, 2019. Mr. Ferrer has been a lifelong activist for democracy and human rights in Cuba. He was jailed in 2003 for his work with the Christian Liberation Movement and Oswaldo Payá, whose suspicious death has never been fully investigated. Mr. Ferrer was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International in 2004 and finally released from jail in 2011. He founded the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) in 2011. Mr. Ferrer and UNPACU members have faced a consistent campaign of harassment, intimidation, surveillance, and arbitrary imprisonment since the organization’s founding.

 The text of the Senators’ resolution can be found here.

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