Florida Lawmaker Criticizes Congressional Black Caucus

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - A Florida Republican congressman has criticized the Congressional Black Caucus for inviting and receiving several Cuban lawmakers this week at a legislative conference in Washington.

Speaking at a Capitol Hill news conference, Lincoln Diaz-Balart said, "There are colleagues of mine who received this very week, and are meeting with, clowns and buffoons who are the puppets of the (Castro) dictatorship. And the dictatorship sends them up here with the title of parliamentarians as though there were a parliament down there elected by the people. There is no parliament elected by the people; there is a rubber stamp puppet institution of the dictatorship."

"Yet," Diaz-Balart continued, "We have colleagues here meeting with these puppets (and) treating them as though they were representatives of the Cuban people when the genuine representatives of the Cuban people are languishing in prisons."

Diaz-Balart believes the Castro government's treatment of Cuban dissidents is a "horrible situation."

"It's such a horrible situation, and the international community just stands by. Colleagues of ours receive the dictator and call for the easing and lifting of sanctions unilaterally against the dictator, while the dictator increases repression. That's the reality of the international community," Diaz-Balart said.

Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon also was invited by the Congressional Black Caucus to attend the Washington conference, but his visa request was denied by the State Department.

Sources tell CNSNews.com that Alarcon's visa was denied because of a "two-tier" rule adopted early in the Clinton Administration. High government officials like Castro and Alarcon will not be granted visas to visit the US, but the administration will allow lower- ranked Cuban government officials to visit here.

The Congressional Black Caucus did not return phone calls to CNSNews.com on Thursday seeking comment.