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Congressional reps back Cuban exile push against Miguel Diaz-Canel U.N. visit

The Cuban regime confirmed that Cuban dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel will attend the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Miguel Díaz-Canel
Miguel Díaz-Canel | Shutterstock

September 6, 2023 8:29am

Updated: September 6, 2023 8:29am

Cuban dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel will attend the 77th United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, according to a Wednesday article published in the Cuban regime's official media, Cubadebate.

Díaz-Canel is expected to arrive in New York before Sept. 18 to participate in the Sustainable Development Goals Summit and deliver a speech during the debate session of the General Assembly in his capacity as president of the G77 and China.

The Cuban leader’s participation in the annual event has provoked criticism from human rights groups, which are planning several protests throughout the country during his visit.

The article claims that a group of activists in Florida are organizing protests against Díaz-Canel’s visit to the U.S., citing a video by "El Guerrero Cubano," an anonymous YouTube account associated with Cuba's state security.

Cuban-American Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart criticized Washington's decision to grant Díaz-Canel a visa to attend the U.N. General Assembly, even before the Cuban president's trip to the United States was confirmed.

Diaz-Balart said he was "appalled by the appeasement of dangerous adversaries and the rewarding of human rights violators" by the Biden's administration.

The Republican legislator said the U.N. has failed to protect human rights by allowing violators such as the Cuban leader to participate in its events. Diaz-Balart even proposed measures for the U.S. to withdraw funds from the international organization.

"When the U.N. takes itself seriously, then I will take the U.N. seriously. The U.N.'s continued predilection to amplify the messages of anti-American dictators and the world's worst human rights violators, like Diaz-Canel, only confirms that my decision to withdraw funding was the right one," Diaz-Balart said.

Fellow Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar echoed Diaz-Balart's comments by criticizing the international organization's decision to invite the Cuban dictator to the event.

"At the U.N., the dictator Díaz-Canel will lie to the free world, hide the crimes of the regime, and blame others for the Cuban disaster, as the Castros and Che Guevara did. It is regrettable that the person who continues to crush the Cuban people with his boot is walking in the land of freedom.” 

Sen. Marco Rubio also chimed in, describing Díaz-Canel's trip to the U.N. General Assembly as an "insult" and said that the institution should not host him at its headquarters.

Several prominent Cuban activists also condemned the United Nations decision to invite Díaz-Canel to New York and are calling for the Cuban community to protest against the move. 

Pro-democracy activist and daughter of assassinated Cuban civic leader Oswaldo Paya, Rosa Maria Paya, said it was “outrageous that the dictator Miguel Díaz-Canelis going to be accepted in the national territory of the United States during the week of the United Nations national assembly.”

She said the visit has sounded the alarm for activists to organize and speak out.

“That is why Cubans living in the United States will be organizing ourselves to protest his presence," she told ADN Cuba.

“CubaDecide will be organizing an event to speak to the missions present in the national assembly, to the heads of mission of each of the countries of the world to tell them about the disastrous influence that the Cuban dictatorship has had on the United Nations. 

“We Cubans will be telling the world that Díaz-Canel’s version is not the reality, that Cubans want freedom, and that we Cubans are fighting to achieve it,” she pledged.

Dissident leader Eliecer Avila echoed Paya’s criticism in a statement to ADN Cuba by saying “Díaz-Canel’s visit to the United States makes us all ask ourselves the same question: how can a tyrant who is at the head of a dictatorship sanctioned by the United States, a country that is listed as a sponsor of terrorism, was invited to the country?”

“No one can explain this. This is something offensive, disrespectful, inexplicable,” he continued. 

“Yet he will receive the welcome he deserves from the community of free Cubans. We will be protesting in New York in front of this dictator who has caused us so much pain.”

Renowned author, analyst, and activist Orlando Gutierrez Boronat expressed his disappointment that the U.N. would offer a forum to the Cuban dictator in light of the regime's support of the Kremlin's illegal invasion in Ukraine. 

“It is unbelievable that the United Nations is offering a forum, a platform to a puppet dictator, who not only has violently repressed his people but is fully participating in the illegal invasion of Russia against the Ukrainian people,” he said. 

“Russia, who has been expelled from the U.N. council on human rights because of this invasion, is now using its puppets in the communist regime in Cuba to strengthen its lines of advance in Ukraine by sending Cuban troops. And the U.N. responds by inviting Díaz-Canel to talk.”

He said such a move creates political confusion for the international community. 

“The message that the European Union and the U.N. are sending about the regime in Cuba is incoherent,” he added. 

There are currently more than a thousand political prisoners on the island as a result of the peaceful protests that took place on July 11, 2021.

In addition, the regime considers actions such as calling for marches, criticizing the government, or promoting a change of system through social media to be "cyber crimes," which could lead to criminal prosecution.