House To Take Up Cuban Human Rights Resolution

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

( - The House Tuesday is expected to act on a resolution that would express the sense of the House regarding the human rights situation in Cuba. Specifically, the measure would urge the United Nations Human Rights Commission now meeting in Geneva to condemn the human rights abuses being committed by the Castro government.

The House International Relations Committee approved the resolution last Wednesday. Thus far, Poland and the Czech Republic have indicated they will support the resolution when it comes before the U.N. commission.

Radio Havana reported Saturday that Cuban Leader Fidel Castro, addressing an outdoor rally in Havana, criticized the United States for pushing the human rights resolution before the United Nations commission.

"These are the enslaved people," Fidel Castro ironically remarked about thousands of Cubans taking part in the rally. He said these were the people "whose human rights are being questioned in Geneva by the United States."

Castro also said the campaign against Cuba in the U.N. Human Rights Commission has more fervor than ever, after what he termed the "fraudulent" U.S. elections and the "scandalous theft of the presidency which brought to power the current president, George W. Bush."

Late last week, Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), himself a Cuban exile, proposed the "Cuban Internal Opposition Assistance Act of 2001," which would give "democracy assistance" to the Cuban internal opposition.

"Democracy assistance" means humanitarian assistance such as food, medicine and communications equipment such as telephones and fax machines. The bill has almost 100 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.

"A central focus of American policy toward Cuba must be to assist the brave internal opposition struggling for democracy inside the enslaved island," Diaz-Balart said in a statement on Capitol Hill.

Diaz-Balart said the bill would give Cuba's internal opposition support similar to what the United States extended to Poland's internal opposition during the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was president.

Rep. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said he supports the measure because, "the Cuban people want change, but they need help from (outside) the island to struggle against the smothering repression on the island."