That's Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart [FL-21] from last Monday. It seems that our favorite Congressman from Miami took the time on the House floor to remind everyone of Cuba's oppressed Cuban dissident movement, and comparing their repression to Jewish persecution, and shaming members of the American press for not doing enough to shed light on this genocide.
Rep. Diaz-Balart centered his speech on the health of political dissident Martha Beatriz Roque, who last week was described as gravely ill due to a hunger strike. But, Rep. Diaz-Balart on Monday declared that Roque was "close to death." Yesterday, Roque revealed herself to reporters in Havana who instead described her as "unsteady but far from death."
Huh? This is what happened...
Late last week, Miami Herald reporter Juan O. Tamayo reported about the deteriorating health of Martha Beatriz Roque during a hunger strike which began around Tuesday. (Local Spanish-language news stations America Teve and Telemundo51 also reported on the health of Roque.) The reports described Roque's condition jumping from extremely grave to stable based on examinations by an ambulance crew and one doctor. Tamayo's only source seemed to be political dissident Vladimiro Roca, who was also protesting alongside Roque. Then, on Sunday Roca reported [audio by Radio Marti] on Roque's latest diagnosis by one doctor. The diagnosis included a "sudden case of decompensation" (heart dysfunction by overload), "tachycardia" (abnormal rapid beating of the heart), paleness, sweating, and loss of consciousness.
By Monday morning, Marc Masferrer from the Uncommon Sense blog was convinced that "Cuban Dissident Martha Beatriz Roque is Dying." Masferrer wrote to his readers that this was "not a dramatic exaggeration" but "an accurate assessment of facts on the ground." By Monday evening on the House floor, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart was also convinced that this was the case. (Rep. Diaz-Balart also clearly exaggerated the number of dissidents on a hunger strike with Roque as "dozens" when all reports indicate less than ten) Therefore, he wondered why there was no media coverage about the dying Roque and asked:
"Members of the press, have you no conscience? Do not continue to treat the suffering, oppressed people of Cuba, and their heroes, as non-persons. Please do your duty."
I agree, the press must do its duty. Yesterday, after appearing before reporters Martha Beatriz Roque refused to answer specific questions about her health. Reporters must not allow the rumors of her health go unaccounted for. Did she, Vladimiro Roca, or any doctor exaggerate her condition for increased media coverage? Did their hunger strike end because of Rep. Diaz-Balart's inaccurate public statements?
Cuba's dissidents cannot allow their credibility to be tainted. Their actions must be transparent and without doubt about their goals advocating human rights. Neither should their actions be concerned with politicians who exploit their suffering for selfish gain.