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David Rivera brings former Cuban prisoner to meet President Obama at White House

U.S. Rep. David Rivera, a critic of President Barack Obama's loosening of restrictions in U.S. policy toward Cuba, brought former Cuban political prisoner Cary Roque to a new member reception at the White House Monday night.

Roque, who spent 16 years in a Cuban prison and endorsed Rivera in radio ads in last year's election campaign, gave Obama a letter signed by 26 exile organizations about human rights violations and repression in Cuba, including photos of people beaten by members of the Castro regime.

"In the past, President Obama has refused to meet with representatives from Cuban exile organizations, so I was proud to take Cary Roque as my guest to the White House last night to help the President put a real human face to the issue of Cuba," Rivera, a Miami Republican, said in a statement. "I thought it was important to introduce him to someone who knows firsthand what it’s like to be imprisoned and abused by the Castro dictatorship.

"President Obama told Ms. Roque that he wants to do what’s best for the Cuban people, and she made it very clear to him that standing between his good will for the Cuban people, and the Cuban people themselves, is a dictatorship that has been committing atrocities for more than 50 years.

"I hope that this encounter serves as the beginning of a discourse between the Obama administration, and the Cuban exile community about the reality of the situation on the island, and to help the White House understand that making unilateral concessions to the Castro dictatorship does nothing but reward a regime that continues to repress the Cuban people."