Human Rights in Cuba

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Posted on Monday, 12.20.10
Diaz-Balart to Cuban military: avoid Tiananmen
AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

MIAMI — Outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart on Monday called on Cuba’s military to help its citizens liberate their country from the leadership of Fidel and and to avoid another Tiananmen, a reference to the massive 1989 Chinese military crackdown against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

The Cuban-American lawmaker was honored by a who’s who list of Cuban political and business leaders at a luncheon organized by the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC, which supports tight restrictions on , trade and diplomacy with the communist island.

Diaz-Balart passionately fought to strengthen the U.S. of Cuba during his nearly two decades in Congress, orchestrating the effort to turn the from an executive order into a more permanent law.

He is retiring from the House but has pledged to continue fighting to bring political change to Cuba.

“I have a message for the armed forces of Cuba,” he told the packed audience at the Biltmore in Coral Gables. “Help the Cubans free themselves from the Castro brothers. If you help with the transition to democracy, you will enjoy the role that all armed forces should have in a democratic society … and not the guaranteed repudiation of a Tiananmen,” he said.

The PAC, which contributed more than $450,000 to Democratic and Republican political campaigns in the 2010 election, celebrated the election last month of two new Cuban-American officials: Florida Republicans U.S. Sen.-elect Marco Rubio and Congressman-elect David Rivera. Both men have long opposed travel and diplomacy with Cuba.

Outgoing Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who has long supported the embargo and lost the Senate race to Rubio, also received a standing ovation from the crowd.

Rubio joked that the two had spent a significant amount of time together during the campaign in makeup, a nod to their frequent televised debates. But he also saluted Meek’s decision to stay in the three-way race with Republican turned independent Charlie Crist, despite pressure on Meek to bow out, calling it a sign of the Democrat’s principled character.

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