(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen), a Cuban native who emigrated at the age of 11, released the following statement Wednesday on the United States and Cuba normalizing full diplomatic relations:
“When I came from Cuba as a boy with my mother, our goal was to find the American Dream.
“We wanted to succeed through our own hard work, think what we wanted to think, speak what we wanted to speak and enjoy the fruits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
“We found that and more in America, and I will forever be grateful. Tragically, those in Cuba, even after all these years and to this very day, have never tasted such freedoms.
“That’s why I do not agree with normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. This is a very emotional and personal issue for me. I lived under the regime that, for all intents and purposes, still exists in Cuba. I know first-hand the regime’s poor record on human rights. I’ve seen with my own eyes the regime’s resistance to democracy. I fear normalizing relations will do nothing more than strengthen the regime and cement its permanency.
“As Americans, we must hold true to our ideals, and until we see progress in Cuba toward democracy and human rights, we cannot help give this regime credibility.”