Human rights defender José Daniel Ferrer has spent most of his adult life imprisoned for trying to make Cuba a free nation. Ferrer has worked tirelessly to ensure all Cubans have a voice in the affairs of their own country. The Castro regime has responded by beating and torturing Ferrer, harassing and threatening his family and colleagues, and imprisoning him simply for demanding a better life for Cubans. Despite these abuses, Ferrer has persisted.
It is this persistence, this courage in the face of physical danger, and this resolve to help Cubans who yearn to be free that has earned José Daniel Ferrer the prestigious Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom Award. The United States government joins in the chorus of international voices that praise and commend Ferrer’s work, and the brave work of Cuban citizens on the island and abroad whose sole mission is to demand a free and fair government that encourages its people to thrive, instead of a dictatorship that jails them for their dissenting opinions.
This is a particularly powerful moment for human rights around the world and in our country. We recognize the significance of the moment and emphasize the importance of fighting for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We have more work to do, and Americans are fulfilling their right and responsibility to demand a more perfect union. Until the Cuban people can enjoy the freedoms and rights they are entitled to, the United States government will never stop holding the Cuban government accountable for its abhorrent actions against its own people.
We urge the Cuban government to take an important first step in this effort by immediately releasing José Daniel Ferrer from his four-and-a-half-year house arrest sentence, and immediately freeing all political prisoners. These prisoners are simply demanding a better government. They should be honored for their efforts as Ferrer is rightly being honored today.