Sen. Marco Rubio had harsh words for the Obama administration after Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, a Cuban activist, was jailed by the Castro regime a week after he visited the Senator in Washington, D.C.
According to a report by Diario de Cuba, Oliva returned to Cuba on June 30 and was arrested by the regime’s secret police as he traveled from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where he was to attend a youth conference. Hundreds of other activists were also arrested so far this weekend for protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.
In the statement Rubio released on Sunday, he condemned President Barack Obama for being willing to sit next to Cuban President Raul Castro at a baseball game while failing to act on behalf of Oliva, who had sat next to him in his Senate office just a week ago:
Carlos Amel is a young Cuban democracy activist who sat right next to me during a visit to my Washington office last week, but now he sits in a Cuban jail as a prisoner of conscience. Over a year and a half into President Obama’s Cuba policy and billions of dollars worth of concessions later, human rights and political freedom have gotten worse, not better. President Obama had no problem sitting next to Raul Castro at a baseball game or serving as his personal lobbyist to bring American businesses to Cuba. I call on President Obama to demand that the Cuban tyrant he sat next to at a baseball game looking like they were having the time of their lives, immediately release the Cuban democracy activist who sat next to me in my office discussing a way forward in Cuba out of its ongoing misery.
Oliva’s whereabouts remain unknown, according to Capitol Hill Cubans, who also reported on the arrest of dissidents protesting Oliva’s imprisonment.
On Oliva’s Twitter account, @Amelunpacu1, he describes himself as “Activista de la Uniòn Patriòtica de Cuba, líder de su Frente Juvenil, Amante de la Libertad de Cuba.” (Activist of the Cuban Patriotic Union, leader of the Youth Front, Lover of freedom for Cuba.) He has not tweeted since June 30, the day he was arrested. One of his last tweets was to share a photo of himself with Rubio, which the Senator retweeted to announce Oliva’s arrest:
Junto al senador Marco Rubio. Quien expuso su visión del tema cubano y escucho con mucho respeto la nuestra. pic.twitter.com/4t7hiyEk4o
— Amelunpacu (@Amelunpacu1) June 29, 2016
The caption reads: “With Senator Marco Rubio. Who shared his vision of the Cuban issues and listened to ours with much respect.”
The arrest of Oliva and the other dissidents is a sadly common occurrence in Cuba. Babalú Blog reported that 6,378 Cuban dissidents have been arrested during the first six months of 2016, an average of 36 arrests every day between January 1 and June 30.
Photo credit: Carlos Amel Oliva Torres via Twitter.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.