On Cuban Independence Day, I extend my warm regards and best wishes to the people of Cuba. The United States joins you in celebrating the anniversary of Cuba’s independence, 118 years ago today. The struggle of the Cuban people continues. Your democratic system was overthrown by a military dictator at the middle of the last century. But the revolution your forefathers fought for your rights, freedoms, and prosperity was hijacked by a communist dictatorship that has inflicted the worst forms of abuse on the Cuban people for 61 years.
Both Americans and Cubans alike value our independence and we seek to provide a better, more prosperous future for families, in realization of our God-given rights and dignity as individuals. We salute the brave Cubans who carry on this struggle despite the threats and abuses of the Castro regime: human rights defenders like José Daniel Ferrer and the Ladies in White; and journalists and truth-tellers like Roberto Quiñones, who by shining light on conditions in Cuba prevent the regime from hiding the truth. We salute those demanding the right to exercise their faith in peace, like Pastors Ayda Expósito Leyva and Ramón Rigal, who chose to provide their children with a faith-based home-school education but were imprisoned for doing so. These brave individuals, and many more who are unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs, or who daily face threats and abuse for standing up for what is right, are the true heirs to José Martí.
The United States stands with the Cuban people as you struggle to achieve your vision of a Cuba that is free and more just. The day when your dream of freedom becomes reality is decades overdue, but that day will come.