U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) exclaimed that “we don’t want the same that happened in Venezuela to happen here in Cuba” as he discussed why he felt that it’s not time for U.S. military intervention at a press conference in West New York today.
“We are here today, simply put, to stand in solidarity with thousands of Cubans that have been protesting peacefully, not only in the United States, but more importantly in Cuba,” began Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez from his conference room.
“And they are protesting, simply put, for their safety, their health, and their quality of life. For 60 years, this community has combatted against the regime, who has oppressed them, and now with the last 15 months with the covid pandemic, it is evident that this government has failed – once again – this beautiful community.”
Sires, a former West New York mayor who sits on the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, said that the Cuban people “are tired of 60 years of abuse” from a dictatorship and aren’t going to take it anymore.
“The health system is in shambles, there’s no covid vaccine, there’s no food, there’s no freedom, there’s no internet, there’s no phones – all there is is abuse by a government that wants to say in power,” he said.
Cuba saw their state-controlled economy decrease by 11 percent last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst declined in nearly 30 years, which undoubtedly contributed to their unrest, as BBC reported.
Additionally, Hudson County Commissioner Caridad Rodriguez (D-7) noted that she moved to the U.S. from Cuba back in 1962, but she still feels the pain and suffering when she speaks to family that are still living there.
“I’ve lived practically in their everyday life: the misery that they live with, the oppression, and the lack of human rights. It’s time [for a change,] how much time more do they need?”
During a question and answer session with the media, Sires said he didn’t think it was time for U.S. military intervention and told HCV that he didn’t want to see Cuba deal with a situation similar to what happened in Venezuela.
“They’re [the Biden administration] is supporting the island, and as things get worse, there’ll be stronger support for the island. And I’m sure then when Menendez, and the senators that we have there, and the congress people, humanitarian aid is first on the list,” Sires explained.
“But humanitarian aid has got to go to the people, not the government of Cuba. We don’t want the same that happened in Venezuela to happen here in Cuba.”
While Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was not present today, he released a lengthy statement expressing his thoughts on the situation last night.
“ … As I’ve said over the years, no one wishes that the reality in Cuba was more different than the Cuban people and Cuban-Americans that have fled the island in search of freedom. Let us hear their voices. Listen to their cries of desperation. Support their demands by ensuring we do not perpetuate the regime’s decades of repression,” he said.
“I will continue to use the strength of my voice and power of my office to ensure the United States stands in solidarity with the brave people of Cuba that are risking their lives today for change in their country and a future of Patria y Vida.”
The 2013 Venezuelan presidential election of Nicolas Maduro was widely disputed and led to protests that triggered the crisis in Venezuela during the Bolivarian Revolution that is still ongoing today.
The shipping of humanitarian aid to Venezuela in 2019 led to violent resistance, as outlined in The New York Times.
Locally, North Hudson officials plan to show their continued support for Cuban demonstrations by hosting a march on Bergenline Avenue that will start on 79th Street and Bergenline Avenue in North Bergen and end on 60th Street in West New York.
The event is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 6 p.m.