January 24th, 2008 12:58 EST
President Bush Awards National Medal of Freedom
President George W. Bush made the following remarks today from the Oval Office:
THE PRESIDENT: A while ago I had the honor of presenting the National Medal of Freedom to a patriot of Cuba and a lover of liberty, Oscar Biscet. He was not able to receive the award because he's in a Cuban prison for speaking out on behalf of human rights and human dignity. Today his wife, Elsa Morejon, is here. She has taken some time from Cuba to come to the United States to visit her son. She came up to the Oval Office to see me, and I'm most honored and most grateful.
We have a comfortable life here in America by and large, and it's hard for us to imagine what it would be like for -- to live in a society as repressive as the society of Fidel and Raul Castro. This good woman has had to suffer through days and weeks of deprivation and worry because the love of her life is in a Cuban prison -- simply because of his beliefs. It's my honor to welcome you here.
My call is for the world to help women such as Elsa. My call is for those who believe that the Cuba of today is a hopeful place, to recognize the realities. This is a country that has got political prisoners who are languishing in the jails, who are mistreated in the jails. Our message is, is that political prisoners ought to be free, and so should the Cuban people: free to express themselves and free to realize their God-given talents. So I want to welcome you. Que Dios le bendiga.
MS. MOREJON: (As translated) My name is Elsa Morejon. I'm a Cuban woman. I've come here to the United States to visit my son. My husband has spent most of his youth, and is now sentenced to 25 more years in jail for defending human rights and for defending civil liberties. He has devoted his life to the cause of defending human rights in Cuba and throughout the world. We do not live in a free country, and I must now return to Cuba.
I want to thank President Bush for inviting me to this meeting today. And I would like to speak to the international community and exhort them to work for the release of all political prisoners, along with my husband, to obtain their immediate and unconditional release from Cuban prisons.