Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding the Cuba Twitter program.

"I commend USAID for its commitment to supporting programs that provide uncensored access to information and communications for for the Cuban people and others struggling around the globe against repression, censorship and the denial of basic human rights. Global internet freedom programs, U.S. International broadcasting and support for human rights activists are all fundamental components of our country's longstanding efforts to promote democracy overseas.

"For more than five decades, the Cuban government has kept its people in the dark about the world around them. In an era where the power of the internet and social media have transformed societies, the Cuban people are severely limited in their ability to communicate among themselves, much less with the outside world. They are censored and monitored by the Castro regime and have yet to benefit from the exchange of ideas through the internet.

"For more than 50 years, the U.S. has had an unwavering commitment to promote freedom of information in the world. Our work in Cuba is no different than our efforts to promote freedom of expression and uncensored access to information in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Iran, China or North Korea. Let's not forget that it was the power of our ideals and our ideas that brought down the Berlin Wall. Although the internet and Twitter were not around during the Cold War, those oppressed by Soviet communism learned of democracy and human rights through similar initiatives USAID employs today.

"I feel we owe it to the millions of Cubans who long for democracy and the chance to shape their own destinies to continue to try to bypass the iron grip of the Castro regime in making available information to them through the internet and traditional means."