WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) issued the following statement in reaction to today’s opening of a Cuban embassy in Washington D.C.

“While the attention may be focused today on empty ribbon-cutting ceremonies, I remain deeply concerned with ongoing human rights violations in Cuba. There have been over 2,800 political arrests on the island this year alone, and there is no sign the Castro regime is willing to begin respecting the Cuban people’s right to freedom of expression, independent journalism, or access to information.

“Diplomatic relations with the U.S. are a privilege and must be earned, yet the Cuban government refuses to make any substantial changes to uphold democratic principles and human rights since the December 17th announcement.

"With the opening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, the Obama administration continues to validate the Castro regime’s brutal behavior, doubling down on a one-sided deal that wasn’t able to guarantee full staffing and freedom of movement for all diplomats required for a fully functioning embassy in Havana. There may be a flag raising over the embassy of a dictatorship, but the real goal is a flag raising where the Cuban people are free, have their human rights respected and where we do not accept dictatorial conditions on our embassy and its people.”