April 8th, 2009
06:19 PM ET
6 years ago

Congressman denies Castro's 'racist' claim

Fidel Castro praised the seven Democratic congressional delegates and alleges that one member said that despite President Obama's electoral victory, 'America continues to be racist.'
Fidel Castro praised the seven Democratic congressional delegates and alleges that one member said that despite President Obama's electoral victory, 'America continues to be racist.'

(CNN) - A Missouri congressman is denying former Cuban president Fidel Castro's claim that a member of the fact-finding delegation described the U.S. as "racist."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat and member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is one of the seven lawmakers who visited the island nation on a congressional delegation. Members of the CBC met with President Raul Castro and three of which met with brother, Fidel, at the home of the Cuban revolutionary leader.

In a statement released by the Cuban government, Fidel Castro praised the seven Democratic congressional delegates and alleges that one member said that despite President Obama's electoral victory, "America continues to be racist." The former Cuban president would not disclose the name of the delegate who allegedly made such statement.

Cleaver denied such a comment was ever made at a news conference following the delegation's return Tuesday night.

"That did not happen," Cleaver said

Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the CBC who led the delegation to Cuba, said she did "not have any comment with regard to that. I am not privy to anyone saying that in any meaning. I don't remember that."

Cuban-American Republican lawmakers blasted the CBC members' visits with Raul and Fidel Castro.

"Regardless of one's position on US Cuba policy, one would expect that any US official or Member of Congress visiting Cuba would have the courage to meet with members of Cuba's struggling independent civil society and raise concerns about the regime's systematic violation of human rights with Cuban officials," Florida Sen. Mel Martinez said in a statement issued Wednesday.

"To meet with the Castro brothers and not bring up the subject of their appalling human rights abuses is a shameful missed opportunity," Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen also said in a statement.


Filed under: Congressional Black Caucus • Cuba • Mel Martinez