Born into Castro’s despotic regime of brutal human-rights abuse, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet has spent nearly the last 20 years fighting for a freedom he has never known; a freedom the Cuban people have been denied for far too long under the tyrannical rule of the Castro brothers. It is a freedom which I believe should be supported and recognized by honoring Dr. Biscet with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Just as I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions towards advancing human liberty through non-violent means, I truly believe Dr. Biscet is unique in his contributions and human qualities and worthy of our nation’s highest civilian honor.
Selflessly assuming the battle our ancestors took up years ago to bring justice and democracy to the island of Cuba, Dr. Biscet is an icon of personal bravery and humility in the face of overwhelming force. Just as Colonel Antonio Maceo battled tirelessly for Cuba’s independence against the Spaniards, Dr. Biscet is the “Titan de Bronze” of our generation of freedom fighters against the Castro regime. No longer wielding the machetes of Colonel Maceo’s time, Dr. Biscet has replaced physical force with peaceful strength, yet the battle remains the same.
Under Castro’s dictatorship, 11 million Cubans continue to live in daily fear, oppression, and hunger. Dr. Biscet himself has been victim to continuous beatings and torture at the hands of the Castro regime. He was arbitrarily detained 26 times in 18 months before his most recent sentence of 25 years, and yet he continues to sacrifice his own personal liberty for the sake of the freedom of the Cuban people. His peaceful courage against the explicitly violent acts of Castro’s regime offer a spirit of power and solidarity that binds Cubans, on the island and around the world, in his fight toward justice and democracy.
Deeply inspired by such venerable leaders as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and the Dalai Lama, Dr. Biscet’s integrity and allegiance to the Cuban people reveals him to be a symbol of unity and peace in his own right. Despite numerous opportunities to leave the island, by the request of the regime, Dr. Biscet insists he will never abandon his country. Declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, he represents the strength and perseverance of the Cuban opposition — the Cuba of tomorrow. Dr. Biscet symbolizes the hundreds of other political prisoners languishing in the cells of Castro’s jails, as well as the countless other individuals fighting for the freedom of Cuba’s people.
In 2003, President Bush described Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Vaclav Havel with the following words, “Unintimidated by threats, unchanged by political power, this good man has suffered much in the cause of liberty and he has become one of liberty’s great heroes.” I believe the same can be said of our Titan de Bronze, Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. For this reason, I have asked the President to give every consideration to the high honor of bestowing him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This medal will not only recognize the invaluable efforts of Dr. Biscet on behalf of the Cuban people, but work to demonstrate the United States’ sincere solidarity with the aims of our freedom-seeking friends.
— Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen represent’s Florida’s 18th Congressional District and is the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House.