Several members of Congress met on Tuesday to express their support for the hunger strike being held by more than 25 activists to protest Cuban repression and imprisonment of political dissidents. The hunger strikers include pro-democracy leaders Marta Beatriz Roque and Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez."
Roque, prominent in the Cuban dissident movement, has been on her hunger strike in Havana since Sept. 10 and has not been doing well, according to a report in the Miami Herald. The 67-year-old suffers from diabetes, and is refusing her medication as well as food.
The speakers included U.S. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera, and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart. All four are prominent Florida Republicans.
"The people of Cuba have been deprived of the most basic rights, and these brave activists are protesting with the last resource they have left: their own bodies," said Mario Diaz-Balart. "Increasingly brutal repression and the unjustifiable imprisonment of political prisoners motivate their impassioned calls for freedom and human rights."
Members of the international community have also expressed their support of the activists, including Antonio Lopez-Isturiz, Secretary-General of the European People's Party; Jose Ramon Garcia Hernandez, the International Secretary for Partido Popular in Spain; and former Salvadoran president Armando Calderon Sol.
"These courageous Cuban pro-democracy activists desperately want the community of responsible nations to hear their pleas demanding freedom, liberty and respect for their human rights," said Ros-Lehtinen. "Our message today to our Cuban brothers and sisters is that we stand in solidarity with them and we will continue denouncing the Castro brothers at every opportunity we get."
Related: Exclusive Interview: US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Lincoln Diaz-Balart added that "It is important for the heroic Cuban hunger strikers to know of the extensive international solidarity they have generated for the cause of Cuba's freedom."
The Castro regime "would love nothing more than to see these hunger strikes end in death," said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, in a statement. "The international community, with the United States at the forefront, must speak out and draw attention to the suffering of the Cuban people."
Janisset Rivero-Gutierrez of Directorio Democratico Cubano, Sylvia Iriondo of M.A.R. Por Cuba and Berta Antunez, sister of Perez, also spoke in support of the activists.
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