Tonight, Speaker Boehner hosted a reception for his invited guests for the president’s State of the Union address. In the photo above, Speaker Boehner greets Jorge Luis García Pérez (Antúnez) and his wife, Yris Tamara Pérez Aguilera. Both are Cuban pro-democracy advocates who lead non-violent movements to bring awareness to the oppressive Castro regime and fight for freedom and human rights in Cuba.
Born in Placetas, Cuba, Antúnez, an Afro-Cuban, was subject to racial discrimination preventing him from attending college, working in management positions, or participating in politics. After years of experiencing such injustice, Antúnez was arrested in 1990 for publically denouncing the Castro regime (or “vocalizing enemy propaganda”) and was sentenced to five years in prison. During this time, Antúnez led a movement within the prison to honor his fellow activist, Pedro Luis Boitel, who died from a hunger strike. Because of his effort to denounce what was happening in Cuban prisons, Antúnez was incarcerated for an additional 12 years, where he endured solitary confinement, torture, hunger, and mental abuse. After 17 years and 38 days in various Cuban prisons, the torture tactics used on Antúnez only furthered his resolve to stand up for the freedoms and human rights of all Cubans.
At a press conference this afternoon, Antúnez and his wife, Yris, who is a leader of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement of Civil Rights, joined Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) to talk about the impact of tonight’s State of the Union address on U.S. relations in Cuba. They were also joined by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s special guest, Marlene Alejandre Triana, a Cuban dissident whose father was killed by the Castro regime.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner last night, Antúnez, through a translator, said this:
“The Cuban people are hungry, but they are hungry for respect and dignity and full respect for their rights. The future of Cuba should not have been agreed to in secret as these negotiations between the Obama administration and the regime have been carried out.”
For more, watch an enhanced version of the State of the Union and the Republican Address to the Nation at http://www.gop.gov/SOTU/.