Cuban Activists Decry Black Lawmakers' Meeting With Castro

Cuban democracy advocates went to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to call on three members of the Congressional Black Caucus who recently met with Fidel and Raul Castro to also address human rights concerns on the island.

Berta Antunez delivered a letter from her longtime civil rights activist brother accusing Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Bobby Rush D-Ill., and Laura Richardson, D-Calif., of being "insensitive" to their cause during a trip to Cuba last month because they didn't meet with any dissidents.

"It is ironic that individuals such as yourselves, who have been elected to your positions through a democratic system, and who enjoy all human rights, do not wish the same for the Cuban people," the letter read.

"It is undignified to use prerogatives that for us are inaccessible, such as to traveling to and from one's homeland, having an opinion without fear of persecution, or associating with others who share similar interests, and then to ignore the victims of oppression in Cuba," the letter added.

Antunez, who was joined by fellow activist Anolan Ponce on Wednesday, is the sister of famed Cuba civil rights advocate Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez, who served 18 years in prison for protesting the regime.

Lee, Richardson, and Rush were part of a six-member delegation that traveled to Cuba in April and called for improved U.S.-Cuban ties and met with the Castro brothers.

Upon arrival at Lee's office, Berta Antunez and Ponce met with a legislative aide for the California lawmaker.

"I came to deliver a letter to the congresswoman from my brother which expresses the insult of the pro-democracy movement on the island that just kilometers away from where they were meeting with Fidel and Raul Castro that my brother and other pro-democracy activists in Cuba were being assaulted with tear gas and were being subjected to the most repressive activity," Berta Antunez said through a translator following the meeting.

"It was almost a slap in the face to the pro-democracy and human rights movement on the island," she added.

A spokesman for the CBC did not respond to a request for an interview.

The letter questioned whether the black lawmakers had abandoned their commitment to social justice.

"When we recall the fight and integrity of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, without whom you would still be giving up your seat on the bus and would not have the right to vote, we ask ourselves if the legacy of those who conquered the space of opportunity that you enjoy today, has been reserved only for political speeches and has ceased to be a commitment of your generation to justice and truth," the letter continued.