Why Did Far-Left Democrats Make a Secret 'Human Rights' Trip to Communist Cuba?

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Two of Congress’s most left-wing Democrats led a secret delegation of 100 lawmakers to Cuba last week to discuss issues of human rights. 

The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) visited Havana on a trip that was not reported by state media.

Only when the Herald published a story about the trip did a spokesperson for the Congressional Progressive Caucus confirm the visit, suggesting they were not otherwise looking to publicly disclose the visit.

“Representatives Jayapal and Omar traveled to Cuba last week, where they met with people from across Cuban civil society and government officials to discuss human rights and the U.S.-Cuba bilateral relationship,” a Caucus spokesperson said. 

Both Jayapal and Omar are notorious sympathizers with the Cuban regime and are vocal supporters of ending the decades-long economic embargo imposed by Washington. In January Jayapal called on Joe Biden to lift the embargo on the grounds that it had devastated the local economy. 

Jayapal also demanded that Biden remove Cuba from the U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, even though there is no evidence that they have ceased to do so. 

The country’s dire human rights record is a fact that is acknowledged by the left-leaning NGO Human Rights Watch in its 2023 report on the communist island, noting that “the government continues to repress and punish virtually all forms of dissent and public criticism, as Cubans endure a dire economic crisis affecting their rights.”

Lawmakers and commentators on social media widely condemned the visit. Among those criticizing the trip were Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY). 

Quite why Omar and Jayapal wished to keep the visit a secret is unclear. As noted by the Herald, Cuban state media typically “highlights American lawmakers going to the island, usually framing their visit as a gesture of ‘solidarity’ with the Cuban people or support for ending the U.S. embargo.”

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