A Legacy of Reason

MR. PETER DEUTSCH (D-KEY WEST): Mr. Chairman, this House is the institution in the world that epitomizes freedom in the world. Our country, the oldest democracy in the history of the world, when we say that it just kind of rolls off our tongues, but I think every once in a while we need to stop and think about what that means.

The price of freedom has not been easy, as all of us know. It has been costly in many ways, in lives and money over hundreds of years at this point in time. This House and this country has had a commitment to that. We have used a variety of methods to achieve our goals. Who would have thought in this chamber, in this country, really in this world that the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union does not exist. And how did that happen?

History books will be written about how it happened, why it happened. But I think clearly an instrumental part of that was Radio Free Europe. The facts are it was jammed. It was jammed on a continuous basis. It was jammed more effectively, less effectively during different points in time. The facts are that we are trying to bring freedom throughout the world today in the darkest corners of this planet, where freedom has what appears to be no hope, whether it is in North Korea or in China.

We are committed as an institution, I think universally, every one of us, I really believe, as well as every American, towards those goals. Yet in those countries I just mentioned, as we try to broadcast into them, the penetration, because of effective jamming, is very, very small. Less than one percent of people in those countries are able to hear what we broadcast.

At no point in the history of the United States of America have we given up on our actions towards freedom. This amendment is an attempt to do exactly that. I urge my colleagues to defeat this amendment because this would be a dark chapter in the history of this House, a turning back of really over 200 years of American freedom.

I happen to represent the district in this country closest to Cuba. I represent South Florida and the Florida Keys, including Key West. When I am in Key West, I am 90 miles from Havana. I am actually 110 miles from Miami. I actually live about 60 miles north of Miami. My district goes even further north, to give my colleagues a sense of the geography of South Florida.

I live in a community, I have friends and I have actually been to Cuba on several occasions when we have had emigration go through at Guantanamo station. I have had the opportunity to talk to people who literally walk through mine fields, literally walk through mine fields to get to freedom. Some of the people that walked through did not make it. It is not a movie. It is a reality of what the country is today.

We hear from movie stars who go there, the Jack Nicholsons of the world, who idolize or make statements about Fidel Castro. I would point my colleagues to the statement of one of our colleagues, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), who is the only Holocaust survivor in this chamber, who visited Cuba and talked to us and said that Cuba today, in terms of the people, is worse than pre-Nazi Germany. That is from his words and from his eyes. It is a country of political prisoners. It is not the idyllic island in the Caribbean of serenity and golf courses. It is a place of torture. It is a demon in our midst, a demon 90 miles from our shore.

To send the message that we do not care, that we are willing to put up with it, that we, for the first time in the history of the United States of America, are going to back down on our commitment to freedom would be absolutely tragic. I urge my colleagues to defeat this amendment.

MS. ROS-LEHTINEN: So many of our colleagues have been holding up a picture, and they say does this picture justify spending that much money on the transmissions of TV Marti? Let me show my colleagues a few more pictures. These are children who were killed by Castro's thugs just a few years ago.

This is a child just a few months old. This is a child about my daughter's age, right behind me, about twelve years of age. These were children who were killed, massacred, by Castro's thugs because they attempted to leave the island.

Now, this news was not broadcast on the island of Cuba. Because of Radio and TV Marti, people understood what these pictures meant. And these pictures were transmitted on TV Marti airwaves. And as it has been pointed out, these pictures have been shown to thousands of Cubans who daily visit our U.S. Interests Section in Havana, thousands of people who go there because they are waiting for visas to come to the United States.

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