tv CSIS Discussion on Democracy in the Western Hemisphere Part 1 CSPAN December 1, 2018 5:31am-6:45am EST
something i think i'm so passionate about when i argue as the senior democrat on the foreign relations committee about our budget that the work of administrators -- of administrator groan's a.i.d. is critical to help move countries along so we don't sew a back slide in the hemisphere. to cement democratic institutions aened governance at a critical eltment that serves its people at the end of the day. in recent months, americans have witnessed not only the migration of asigh -- of asylum seekers on our southern border but also i think a morally repugnant esponse by the administration. he simplified coverage and the characterizing them as terrorists does the american people no favors. we must talk about the weak state of democracy and rule of
law in these countries. if my choice living in central america is to stay and chi or see my daughter raped or see my son forcibly put into a gang, or flee and have a chance at living, i know what my choice is going to be. it's going to be flee and have a chance at living. citizens from these countries aren't just fleeing violence or extreme poverty, they're fleeing governments where their governments act with impunity and ignore and abuse their fundamental rights. when hondurans see security forces kill two dozen people protesting the outcome of a questionable election and a year later not one person has been sentenced, what does that say about the future of their democracy? witness emalaens anti-corruption bias knowing that four of their last five presidents have been indicted for graft and money laundering what does that say about governance in their country?
when salvadorans not only live in fear of gang violence and forced servitude, but know that less than 10% of crimes committed will be prosecuted and sentenced, what does that say about the rule of law? it is well pastime that we address these core issues because as we learn in recent months aside from their moral dubiousness and the policy of caging children and tear gassing families has in the served as a, quote-unquote, deterrent. we need robust u.s. engagement that strengthens institutions, bolsters the rule of law, and builds a respect for human rights throughout central america. we need strategies that will help create the conditions for inclusive economic growth. so that citizens can find opportunities within their own borders. threatening to cut off aid to central american countries as the president is wont to do seemingly against the advice of
professional diplomats will not address these causes. will not serve our interests. nor the interests of central america. we must be honest with conditions on the ground and we must act with clear-eyed conviction of purpose. we cannot ignore inconvenient truths. last year the state department sent congress a report heralding the honduran government's progress on governance and human rights at the exact moment that protesters were being killed in the streets. the kind of messaging is not only damaging to our credibility, but it weakens the prospects for reform. similarly when the state department communications called guatemala a strong counternarcotics partner at the exact moment that gaut ma lan security forces armed with machine guns are driving u.s.-donated jeeps past the u.s. embassy in an attempt to send a political message of
intimidation, it belies the facts in front of us and only undercuts the rule of law. it is well pastime we restore u.s. global leadership on democracy and governance issues in the americas and beyond. if we are going to help those who have joined together from civil society and who are trying to bring together in a common cause, then we must be not only the beacon of light, we must be the example at the end of the day. it's time for the administration to stop proposing cuts to the state department's budget and the foreign assistance funding needed to effectively advance our national security interests abroad and promote our core democratic principles, it's time the trump administration stopped threatening to cut assistance to central america as they remedy to migration at our southern border when we know it will only exacerbate the situation. speaking foreign language]
>> so we need serious investments also in you are diplomats, who are the greatest problem soers on the planet. political pressure and saxes are limited in their effectiveness if they are not reinforced by skilled, trained diplomats pushing hard-nosed diplomacy. if we're serious about resolving the crisises in venezuela and nicaragua we must act with the courage of our convictions and engage regional partners on diplomatic strategy to force negotiations.
progress on these issues hinges on bipartisan cooperation in congress. and i think when we do that is an example -- it's an example to those in civil society in different countries, coming from different group, that in fact find common ground in order to pursue their common cause. that's why i've always been pleased to work across the aisle with my dear friend, ileana ros-lehtinen. ile, as some call her whorks voice -- don't misunderstand her kindness and softness. it has been said of someone else that she has an iron hand inside of a velvet glove. her voice, her service and her leadership will be very much missed within the halls of congress particularly on these issues. i personally have seen ileana's tenacity in fighting for her community in florida but for those who are opressed and discriminated against, in promoting u.s. values, ideals and freedom around the world. her life of service first as a
school teach for the miami, then rising to be the first latina elected to the united states congress has inspired thousands of the next generation of hispanic leaders. a first generation american whose family fled the castro regime she has a unique perspective on the values that truly make america great. a woman of many firsts, she was the first woman to chair the house foreign affairs committee, paving the way for women in foreign policy leadership role, and being a consequential voice on the challenges facing our nation. for those of us who have worked with ileana over the years, we know her as someone who never heashes tates to cross the aisle, to get things done. i'm honored to have collaborated with her on many issues throughout our careers. in speaking out against the regimes in venezuela, cuba and nicaragua, to working together on legislation such as the libertad act in 1996 and more
recently, ileana has been a champion on freedom and democracy. she has a keen understanding of the challenges faging the united states, the reregion, and the world and i've always trusted her to respond with moral clarity, to speak out against tyranny and stand up for what's right even when it's not politically convenient. i have to say, she's pretty great on twitter as well. [laughter] and if you don't have a picture with ileana, you just weren't around her. because if you haven't had one before you leave here today there will be one. she's the most prolific picture taker i have ever known she beats cory booker any day and that's saying somebody. -- saying something. thanks, ileana, for your work, your commitment and i know we're not going to let you fully go. [speaking foreign language] thank you very much, everybody.
> i'm between two storms here. we are at a crucial moment. we see optimistic signs in many parts of the hemisphere. we see details of the latin american middle class is expanding, from 21% of the overall population in 2001, nearly 35% by 015. in mexico, real g.d.p. growth is upwards of 3% and colombia's g.d.p. has tripled in the past two decades. it is perhaps a sign of its rising status and influence, this very day, argentina is playing host to the g-20 and over the last four years, brazil has hosted both the world cup and the summer olympic games. but on the other hand which is
what brings us here, there are darker trends in parts of latin america as well. as worrisome as any is the rise of violent authoritarianism in several significant countries. in cuba, fidel castro may have passed away but with raul still pulling the strings of the communist party, his legacy of repression continues unabated. askew ban democracy leaders and former political prisoners put it when think met with me, don't be fooled by the propaganda. instead of reforming, havana is merely mutating. it continues to crack down on civil society by harass, beating, and imprisoning innocent civilians. the ladies in white still gather every week and walk peacefully to church to draw attention to the plight of political prisoners and violations of human rights.
and every week they're still confronted, harassed, and arrested by castro's thugs. in nicaragua, ortega's regime is resurrecting old-style tyranny. he's reportedly authorized a shoot to kill policy against protesters, there's widespread kidaling and extrajudicial killings. and torture. over 500 people have been killed since april. thousands have been injured or imprisoned. and there's simply no greater tragedy in this hemisphere than a little further south in venezuela. the maduro regime is not only destroying that country's democracy and economy but its dictatorship created the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of the americas. by some accounts, three million venezuelans have fled their homeland. from violent crackdowns to
holding some 200 political prisoners in brutal conditions, to unleashing hyper inflation, malnutrition and basic medicine stock outs, they've inflicted unimaginable sufferings on their eople. but we're also here, and i call this a crossroad moment, because there's hope. brave men and women in these countries have refused to give up and refused to give in and therefore neither should we. they've never given up in cuba. three years ago, castro's people group, and ed the began a campaign to force their leader to resign. she's too clever. she surprised them by calling for a vote amongst the organization's rank and file. castro's spies never anticipated democracy.
nor did they understand it. and she won in a landslide. in nicaragua, despite threats and violence and arrest, roman catholic priests continue openly to call for a peaceful end to the and political solution to the terrible, brutal policies of the government. in venezuela, despite all that has happened, democratic actors continue to resist. civil society groups are persevering so they can record human rights abuses and help chronicle the depths of the humanitarian crisis. we're here today because we stand with these brave souls, we're here today because we refuse to be mere spectators. our very first secretary of state, thomas jefferson, perhaps more than any other man of his time, understood that in this hemisphere, what they then called the new world, citizens
had devotions to principles enshrined in our declaration of independence, they had it in their very d.n.a. 1823, e to a friend in america north and south has a set of interests distinct from those of europe. our endover should surely be to make our hemisphere a hemisphere of freedom. hemisphere of freedom. how beautiful that sounds not only for a young united states but for our foreign policy at this crossroads moment. at the summit of the americas, our vice president made it clear that pursuing this goal should be the heart of our policy. to drive the point home, national security advisor john bolton recently described the regimes in cuba and venezuela and nicaragua as a troika of tyranny. and he declared, we will no longer appease dictators and
despots near our shores. and perhaps as a sign he meant what he said, this week's action by president trump to sanction two high level officials from the nicaraguan regime from human rights abuses and acts of corruption. usaid pledges to do our part for this great cause. when we recently used that a cuban scientist had been imprisoned for disrespecting government authority and his sister and sole means of support had fallen ill, our partners immediately fast tracked 70 pounds of food and medicine to him in prison. and in nicaragua, the u.s. is the largest and one of the only remaining donors still working on democracy and human rights and we will make sure that that continues. and to help suffering venezuelans who have fled maduro as well as support the
communities which are giving them refuge, we have ex-pnded our support to countries of brazil, colombia, ecuador, peru, even some of the caribbean countries to try to help. we won't give up, because they won't. these heroes of freedom. today i'm pleased to announce that we're providing additional $750,000 in humanitarian assistance to political prisoners in cuba. this will help facilitate -- [applause] this will help facilitate information and help document ongoing human rights abuses. i'm also announcing an additional $4 million for nicaragua. [applause] this will be in the form of support to civil society organizations and others who are advancing democratic reform and human rights there.
finally today, i'm also announcing that usaid is mobilizing more than $13.6 million in new funding for those fleeing tyranny in venezuela. [applause] this will help provide much-needed water, sanitation, hygiene assistance, and government focused programming in colombia and across the region. to be clear, we know, all of us know, humanitarian assistance is relief, not a solution. and not an answer. we know the answer must be human liberty and democracy. and we are fortunate to be joined by champions of that cause today. senator bob menendez has been a steadfast leader for liberty in the region, especially in the countries we are here to discuss and then there's my friend and former colleague, congresswoman ileana ros-lehtinen. she has been getting many tributes, she deserves every
single one. i mentioned earlier that sometimes when people come to me and talk to me about a new tropical storm in the caribbean, i say, you mean ileana? she has been passionate, she has been forceful. she has been tireless. she has given hope to so many who feared they had been forgotten or left behind. senator menendez's public service began when he was just 19 years old and during his time in congress, he has been a steadfast advocate for u.s.-latin american relations. as you heard, they have partnered together on some of the most important pieces of legislation affecting this region in a very long time. from different sides of the aisle, working to do what is important. i know as a former member of congress it is difficult to pass legislation and yet they have joined together to passkey legislation at key moments in
time. we'll also hear from karl ger, win, president of the national endowment for democracy, a longtime friend. that has been literally a lifeline for key groups and individuals in very difficult places. he has provided hope to those who truly thought all were lost. today is an opportunity to hear from them, it's an opportunity to hear from you. finally i'll say that i -- i understand why some may fret about the challenges facing democratic values in the region. but we must remind ourselves, these authoritarians are not motivated by courage. they're driven by fear. quite simply, authoritarians are afraid. they're afraid of their own people. they are afraid of democracy. they are afraid of freedom. they fear what we and all of you most treasure.
i have to say a special shoutout to our i.r.l. alum the defenders of free tom and now working in various agencies. be afraid. yelem, alicio, jody, jason, sandy, i didn't get all of you but thank you so much. you're all there. and i am so happy that you have found a home elsewhere. hank you, dan. [speaking foreign language] csis is a wonderful institution and i'm so filled with optimism. thank you, mark, for those incredible words. of nondeserved praise but i'm deeply humbled by them. carl, i can't wait to hear from
you but i know -- we all know of carl's work because we see it all around us. those flowers of democracy and freedom that are sprouting up all over our hemisphere. but special thanks to bob, senator menendez, as he told me, the senate doesn't work on fridays. he -- they work in their districts and their states on fridays but he stayed for me. and i am just so, so grateful to him for his many years of service, for the values of freedom and democracy, i'm thankful for his kind words, for his dedication to the fight of -- and john. there's another one of our hill -- former hill rats who found their way elsewhere. see i know i'm going to skip so many, i'm going to get in trouble. thanks to bob for his fight for the people of nicaragua and venezuela an cuba especially.
and as you heard from bob, two days ago, just two days ago, thanks to bob's efforts, we finally were able to pass the knee ka act in the senate -- the nika act in the senate. i can't believe that this actually happened. we've already passed it twite in the house. it made it better. it got improved because it's a stronger bill now thanks to bob. it includes language from his bill to sanction human rights violators and corrupt regime officials so now it comes back to the house for number three. we got to really pass it you got to really mean it. and maybe this coming week, tuesday or wednesday, please, light a candle, sacrifice a goat, if you're into that. whatever it is, just let's make sure we do it. and i still can't believe it.
and the genius behind that, and i'm going to give a special shutout, eddie acevedo, come on, stand up. the nica act should be called the eddie acevedo act and mark you made a great acquisition when you steel eddie from us. i'm so very happy. but -- [speaking foreign language] i'm so honored to participate in this discussion with mark, with rl, and dan as the orchestra director. mark and i go way back. when we served together in the foreign affairs committee in the house of representatives and i'm so glad to see mark in the position that he is at right now. and having you, a principled, visionary leader, at the helm of usaid has made an incredible difference, we have seen it in addressing new challenges, emerging challenges throughout the world but more specifically
in latin america. and one more thing that i have to say to you, mark. tomorrow, we will be commemorating world aids day. and this year, we are also celebrating 15 years of success through pepfar and this is a very ambitious, wonderful program that was created by george w. bush , he doesn't get enough credit for it. shepherded through the house by ark green. it's unbelievable the success we've had. i'm reminded when mark served as ambassador to tans knee ark you wrote to me, i still have it a letter highlighting the threat that hiv-aids poses to the security of our country. we never frame it that way. and you said, quote, in tearing apart the social fabric and leaving a generation of orphans, the scourge of hiv-aids could
create a long-term breeding ground for radicalism. end quote. so thank you, mark. you were a visionary, you're so right and carl, you and i go way back as well. he's testified multiple times before our committee, always highlighting the successes and the challenges that come with trying to strengthen democratic institutions across all regions. but thank you, carl, for everything that you do, everything that your organization does, in leading the way and for also to shine a spotlight on human rights atrocities. and we need to do that. we want to talk about how everything is good but we need to shine the light on these abuses because that is the way we get at the oppressors of the people. not just in latin america but carl has been doing that around
the world. so it's a tough job that you've taken on, carl, and with great pride and for that, i thank you so much. so thank you, carl. thank you, mark. thank you dan. csis. maybe you've heard, i was bosh in cuba. i came to the united states fleeing the oppressive communist regime in cuba when i was only 8 and -- but for me, where i was born, it's not just a place on your passport it has really defined me as a person. it's defined how i view the world and it's through the police. -- emocracy, of freedom, of it's through the prism of democracy, of freedom, of -- it's the basis of every strategic decision made in u.s. form policy, those should be the pillars, that should be the guiding light. you all are here because you also believe in those values you
also believe in those guiding principles because as the title of this event says, we want to see a hemisphere of freedom. say it with me. hemisphere of freedom. amen. and as you know, unfortunately, there are too many rogue regimes who seek to undermine this goal at every turn. and little by little we have witnessed how other countries throughout our hemisphere, venezuela, bolivia, ecuador, nicaragua, have taken a page out of castro's playbook and have been systematically dismantling democratic institutions and continuing with the human rights violations. in fact, we see today how cooperation between these despots is increasing, they're sharing repression tactics, best practices of torture. best practices of repression. and best practices of how to stay in power.
specifically, we see it in venezuela, in nicaragua, whether it's through ambassador green's leadership in usaid, in bringing humanitarian assistance to help the venezuelan refugee, and let's give him a shout out for the help he's give, what three great announcements you have made, mark. it's hard to top that. targeted sanctions against regime officials of ortega in nicaragua, or reversing some of president obama's misguided and hurtful cuba policies, this administration has served as a beacon of hope to people of these countries who are suffering under such repressive regimes. but as always, the fight is far from over. more can be done. our nation must play -- pay close attention to this band of tyrants or as ambassador bolton said and mark pointed it out this troika of tyranny and i
think that that's going to be something that people will really understand, troika of tyranny. that undermine os -- undermines our national security. it is of interest to us, it undermines the national security of our allies as well. it we've got to use every tool at our disposal to hold these regimes accountable. unfortunately, other nations are following in these -- this troika of tyranny and the examples of these dictators. morales in bolivia can'ts -- continues to change the constitution ensuring hery mains in power no matter what. overpowering the opposition with violence and arrests. and this trend only emphasizes the importance of discussions like this one and the work that all of you are doing and not just these big shots up on the stage but the big shots here in the audience. each one of you is that ambassador of freedom. ultimately it will be the people
of cuba, the people of venezuela, the people of nicaragua, who will bring freedom to their countries who will be the political opposition, who will be the civil society group, individual citizens, they are going to be the change that we want to see. and although my time in congress is coming to an end, i've got a couple of weeks still left, if we gave you my card, it's got an expiration date on it. but i hope that our guy well, still hustling, right? still passing out cards? if you don't have my card go see angela. we're still working it. my time in congress is coming to an end but i'm not going away because i am never going to stop working until we see a free and democratic hemisphere where uman rights are respected. speaking foreign language]
[applause] [applause] 4 > wow. >> ok, ileana, you can't -- after all this, you can't leave us. we still need you in your new role, your new life. o let's get right to it. carl, i don't think we have to explain to this audience but i think it's important for the folks watching on tv who may not follow the issues, why should this region matter? why should we care about democracy and human rights and good governance in the hemisphere? what are the stakes?
why should we care about this? >> senator menendez made it perfectly clear when he talked abthe refugee problems that are ing created as a result of democracy in venezuela, and other refugees leaving nicaragua. but this creates a problem for us. it suggests one of the many, many problems that is created. this is our neighborhood, our hemisphere. carl: you have the problems we have in the northern triangle in central america and of course in venezuela or cuba, it affects us. you know, i just want to say a word about cuba. mark mentioned that this constitution which they want to bring to a referendum on february 24 really is not any reform. it's really mutating, it's not
mutating, it's getting worse. article 5 of this constitution changes the old constitution which said that communist party of cuba was the guiding force. the new constitution that is going to be voted on february 24 says the communist party is the only legal party, there can be no other parties. it also says that the system there, the communist system there, is irrev -- irrevocable, cannot be changed, it's written in stone. and they fake it, the idea that this is reform. memorial we had a , a cuban spoke, talked about fraudulent change. six months after he sent that video to us he was murdered by he cuban government.
it's amazing how his daughter has emerged as a real leader. [applause] -- let's not oned forget, laura who created ladies in white was murdered. and there are many, many others, hundreds of others. the cubans don't do it the way they do it in saudi arabia, which is pretty stupid, doing it in their consulate, killing a journalist. they did it very carefully, car accidents, poisoningings, all these thing, but they systematically try to get rid of opposition. as somebody said this morning, you have in these three countries, you have one regime and three governments. it really is a single system, we have to learn thousand counter this. and in each of these countries, in each of these countries there are -- it's remark to believe me
given the crisis in these country, eeconomic and political crisis, the repression, there is emerging really strong opponents, strong opposition, in cuba, you know, next week, they're going to have -- they're going to approve this 349 which tightens the controls over musicians, artists, performance. there's resistance from the artistic community. in venezuela, they formed the free vens venezuela front and had a congress earlier this week and came out with a whole program for reform, they're going to meet again on december 2 and then of course you have the fake inauguration coming from maduro on january 10, that should be boycotted. eally, i'm very unhappy that he's invited a fake ruler to his inauguration tomorrow. this regime should be boy votted -- boycotted. in nicaragua, the white and blue
united for national unity, this is a tremendously important new movement for nicaragua to get the of sigs together so they can speak with a common voice and provide -- and have a voice in this country so people can know what the people of nicaragua think. and we've got to find ways, we're supporting them, we've got to find ways of supporting political prisoners in these countries. there are over 600 political prisoners in nicaragua, there are hundreds in venezuela and cuba. we have to find, make visible the faces of these political prisoners who -- and get behind them and seek their release. we have -- we have to try to help them do is to connect them with people in support here, people in latin america, the diaspora, to help them unite and find a common way of resisting these brutal dictators. if we dent do that, our country,
i think, is going to suffer. >> i completely agree. thank you very much. in -- i get the sense that the bad guys are getting better at being bad and they are sort of -- congresswoman ros-lehtinen used the term, the best practices which is, you know, of course an ironic term. daniel: but an accurate term. we need to have the communities of freedom in these three countries working together. you mentioned that. how can we do that bet her how can we get these three, the communities of freedom working together? carl: there was a time, somebody wrote a book called "the dictator's learning curve," it was talking act putin and some other hybrid regimes where you can keep power but being a fake democrat. and they have elections and they try to have fake institutions. but what's happening now in these countries is i think
they've decided they don't have to fake it anymore. what you have is they're sending the signal that they're going to do anything that is necessary to hold on to power. that means even as happened in venezuela, destroying the country. or nicaragua. this hasn't really happened before. mark said it's been over -- killing over 500 people. i think it's a terrific thing that the l.a.s. under almagro created a tribunal which recommended to the international criminal court that they investigate vends way la which -- they said there is reason to believe that they are guilty of crimes against humanity and bring the case of venezuela before the international criminal court and they had and they had justices on this tribunal. and five latyib american countries and canada have
formally presented this case to the international criminal court. [applause] >> that's what has to be done. we have to take new and creative actions to hold these regimes accountable and to mobilize support and support the people in these countries and hopefully liberation is going to come from them. >> thank you for your tireless effort. what makes you optimistic, we could leave this conversation being depressed or kind of down. these bad folks are real bad people. and they will do anything to stay in power. what makes you optimistic? ms. ros-lehtinen: i'm so optimistic and carl mentioned this group in nicaragua and bringing all of these factions together. everybody united and that's the
key to success. i'm very optimistic. thank you for putting this -- this is unbelievable. women under repression in cuba, just an incredible document. not only are these brave cuban women a ray of hope, but we also have the newer generation of cuban dissidents and a lot of them coming from the artistic community. sewn his lips as of what the castro regime wants to do, to silence him. ere is a ray of hope in cuba and nicaragua. n venezuela, the women are leading the way.
women are leading the way in all of these countries. i'm very optimistic that the youth, the artists are seeing the repression and the brutality of this police state all around them and they are rising up. and this is a generation that has grown up only knowing repression because that's all they have ever known and they understand that this is not a way to govern or live. and that's what keeps me energized and that's what will keep me engaged and i hope i will be part of this family as all of you are of. >> that is a given. ms. ros-lehtinen: it is in our d.n.a. and in our blood and we have to do it and do it for all of these people who think they have no voice. we will help them. >> you were going to give a homework assignment to the trump
administration. what do they need to be doing the next couple of years? what homework assignments do you want to give mark on these issues? >> she gives me homework any way. [speaking foreign language] [laughter] ms. ros-lehtinen: usaid stands for. i would love to give the trump ministration books like -- let's hold up that book.
wow! . and carlos, where are you? where's your book? whoever has my purse, i have no money, so you can keep it. [laughter] speaking foreign language] ms. ros-lehtinen: there are incredible human rights proponents. all of you in this audience are those ambassadors. and i thank you for everything you're doing. and i think the trump administration is doing everything right internationally, but yes, as a former school teacher, i would give him a few homework assignments. , carl and t for mark you, dan. [laughter] >> administrator green, i think
it's important that this audience and the audience understands all of the work that aid does. i don't think it is fully appreciated. and i think the congresswoman was referring to it. but you are doing an incredible amount of work and pushing against these very bad regimes. mr. green: a few things. first off, this session really came out of a gathering i had in miami after my visit to the summit of americas and the difficult as practice got together and we were struck by w the tyranny was one regime and three governments and sharing technology and a reminder for those of us who believe in freedom and democracy and potential. we had better start meeting and
sharing information and sharing ideas. and that's what led to today under dan's leadership. i think that's the path forward. we need to be a lifeline for many of those who are suffering the most. we can provide a small piece of economic relief and food assistance to political providers and we are doing that. i think as much as anything. we need to be clear-eyed and clear-voiced in our condemnation of tyranny and standing up for democracy and freedom. because history tells us when we look at the iron curtain and look at the old soviet empire, the statement that came from shington were a godsend to those who were left behind and without hope. we must be a source of hope.
we have to send clear signals that they are not alone. that we recognize this is one broad community. it is in our community's d.n.a. that what happens elsewhere in the region affects us in so many ways. and you look at this horrible outmigration of those fleeing me meduro. >> despite his proximity to the u.s., it is one of the least covered forces. we need to do a much better job helping those. the consequences of this are enormous, not just the suffering and the economic forces but the potential for it to become destabilizing if left unchecked. we have a number of those fleeing who are moving into
countries with fragile economies, countries that were not able to withstand these sorts of numbers. we are helping to reinforce those supporting communities, those communities of refuge. we think that's crucial. and we are part of the discussion on sanctions. and sanctions are important not only for the precise sanctions themselves, but again as an expression of american views towards these actions. so they have a double importance. finally, what we want to do is help amplify all of your voices and i know the next panel is far more important than quite frankly any of us. ms. ros-lehtinen: well, i don't know. [laughter] >> present company excepted, but we need to listen. we should be guided by them.
it's not people like me sitting back here in washington that i have the answers. but we are trying to bring what you bring to the table, your notions, your ideas. the reason i'm optimistic, because as i met with your constituents down in miami, i was incredibly impressed by their strength, energy, optimism, their drive. after all they have been through. they don't give up, how can we? how can we? ms. ros-lehtinen: how can we? that is the greatest. >> i could be here all day. and i know you would like to be here. but the show must go on. one of the reasons we wanted to convene this conversation, we wanted to honor you. i was going to ask carl to make a few remarks. and someone could help me with
the podium. >> we are going to give you something. ms. ros-lehtinen: what the heck? oh my goodness. h my goodness. >> don't fall. she has gotten standing ovations and this one is a little bit formal to honor her. she is somebody and did it, when she enters the room, she lights it up with energy. but i want to say one fundamental thing about her. i go back to a book written by her father and he wrote 20 books. but this one book was called "cuba -- born in other
countries. the cuban guerillas who fought gedges spanish rule in the 19th century from 1868-1878 and the war of independence of 95 to 98. and he wrote about the dominicans, the puerto ricans, the colombians, people from france and spain, italy, poland and even china who came to cuba who came to fight against the colonial. cuba but she in is supporting democracy all over the world. in may, we were together in a ceremony for israel.
israel honored 70 people who over 70 years helped israel. bun of them bernstein and famous people like that. there was one member out of 535 that was honored by the israeli embassy. she told me, i can't talk about that. i said i'll talk about that. rlier this year, she went to her lar and showed solidarity to the people of tibet and she was the only other person in the congress who should a message of passionate solidarity and the two of them together did it. she was in solidarity with them. and went to tie juan earlier this year and the president of the of of tie juan presented her
with a special medal that was lled the order of -- [indiscernible] >> that is a remarkable thing and it is so appropriate for her. what does that mean? i looked it up. one of them is optimistic, ausepishous and bright, rosey, hopeful and heaven sent. it's because she is heaven sent and because of what she has done for democracy in the congress and throughout her life and is oing to continue to do -- this is a wood cut of the goddess of democracy, which was the statue hat was raised in tenney men
square. this is the statue that was raised in the square. and it has become a global symbol for freedom and for democracy. >> oh my gosh. oh, thank you so much. thank you. thank you. and i accept this on behalf of so many people. thank you all. dan, thank you. mark, thank you. this is unbelievable. now i just need an office in which to hang it. i'll put it on my back. >> do you want to say something? >> thank you so much. this is beyond embarrassing. [speaking foreign language] ms. ros-lehtinen: when we fight for human rights and democracy and the need for freedom, we are speaking on behalf of so many
oppressed people. we need to be that voice and instrument of change and we need to remind everyone who is in leadership and everybody that the united states must always be that shining city on the hill. we must always value our principles of freedom and democracy. we must northwesterly lose sight of that. we cannot be ruled by any other principle than be guided by the truth and the light and that is freedom, democracy and human rights. and that is what these fine gentlemen stands for. carl, that is so meaningful. i don't have an office to hang it on, but i will put it on my become. [laughter] please join me in thanking her. [applause]