Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today issued the following statement regarding a decision to issue a visa to the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro, Mariela Castro Espin:

"I am disappointed by the decision to issue a visa to Mariela Castro Espin, the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Ms. Castro is a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy, who has defended the regime's brutal repression of democracy activists. Neither the United States Government nor the Latin American Studies Association should be in the business of providing a totalitarian regime, like the one in Cuba, with a platform from which to espouse its twisted rhetoric.Moreover, while an American is being held hostage in a Cuban prison I believe that issuance of a visa to Ms. Castro sends the wrong message to the regime and to Cuba's struggling opposition movement. Lastly, she is a prominent member of Cuba's Communist party and I don't believe that the authority exists to provide Ms. Castro with a visa pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 5377, which prohibits providing nonimmigrant visas to Cuban nationals that are officers or employees of the Government or the Communist Party of Cuba."