Walter F. Mondale photo

Statement by Vice President Walter F. Mondale on Cuban Refugees

April 27, 1980

At the President's request, I chaired a meeting Saturday with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Deputy Secretary of State, and heads of other U.S. departments concerned with the very serious humanitarian problem we are confronting with the plight of growing numbers of Cuban refugees. There is no better proof of the failure of Castro's revolution than the dramatic exodus which is currently taking place.

At the same time, we are witnessing a callous, cynical effort by Castro to play on the emotions of the Cuban American community in the United States, to lure members of this community into extraordinarily dangerous and unlawful boat trips, with the very real threat of loss of life at sea. Castro has evaded his responsibility to his citizens and has broken the commitment he made earlier to help with an orderly, prompt, and humane evacuation of refugees.

The President has directed U.S. Navy and Coast Guard units in the region to render all possible assistance to those at sea. We call upon the Cuban American community, which has contributed so much to our country, to respect the law and to avoid these dangerous and illegal boat passages. The world will hold Castro responsible for the safety of these Cubans.

Cuba must agree to a policy that permits the orderly, safe, and humane evacuation of refugees. We have stated before, and I repeat again, that the United States will contribute to this international effort. I would point out that if Castro wants to expel his people, let him begin by releasing the plantados—those brave Cubans in Boniato prison. These people have suffered for their freedom. The moment they are released, we will have aircraft standing ready to bring them to freedom.

The Deputy Secretary of State and other administration officials also met Saturday with leaders of the Cuban American community to continue our consultations. We will continue to give the highest priority to this humanitarian problem.

Walter F. Mondale, Statement by Vice President Walter F. Mondale on Cuban Refugees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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