To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, in recognition of his courageous and unwavering commitment to democracy, human rights, and peaceful change in Cuba

Bill Number: 
S.2777
Bill Location: 
Date of Last Action: 
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Relevant Text: 

S 2777 IS

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2777

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, in recognition of his courageous and unwavering commitment to democracy, human rights, and peaceful change in Cuba.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 13, 2008

Mr. MARTINEZ (for himself, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. ENSIGN, and Mr. COLEMAN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

A BILL

To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, in recognition of his courageous and unwavering commitment to democracy, human rights, and peaceful change in Cuba.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--

      (1) Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet was born on July 20, 1961, in Havana, Cuba;

      (2) Dr. Biscet is married to fellow democracy advocate, Elsa Morejon Hernandez, and he has 2 children;

      (3) Dr. Biscet is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for allegedly committing crimes against the sovereignty of the Cuban regime;

      (4) in 1997, Dr. Biscet founded the Lawton Foundation for Human Rights, one of the first independent civic groups in Havana, which promotes the study, defense, and denunciation of human rights violations inside Cuba and wherever the rights and liberties of human beings are disregarded;

      (5) as a physician, Dr. Biscet denounced the double-standards and systematic repression of the Cuban National Health Care System, and as a result he was forbidden from practicing medicine;

      (6) on February 27, 1999, Dr. Biscet was imprisoned for 3 years, after hanging the national flag sideways at a press conference;

      (7) although Cuban independence and democracy advocates have always used this statement as a sign of civil disobedience, the regime nonetheless accused Dr. Biscet of insulting the nation's symbols, public disorder, and inciting criminal activity;

      (8) once released in 2002, and unable to practice medicine, Dr. Biscet engaged in organizing seminars on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

      (9) on December 6, 2002, on his way to one such meeting, he and several of the seminar's participants were beaten and arrested;

      (10) on April 7, 2003, Dr. Biscet was sentenced to 25 years in prison and sent to a special state security prison, Kilo Cinco y Medio in Pinar Del Rio province;

      (11) Dr. Biscet has declared himself a `plantado', a political prisoner who refuses to undertake ideological `reeducation' or wear a common prisoner's uniform and therefor remains in Cuba's political gulag.

      (12) on November 5, 2007, President Bush recognized Dr. Biscet and presented him (in absentia) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, stating that `Dr. Biscet is a champion in the fight against tyranny and oppression. Despite being persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs, he continues to advocate for a free Cuba in which the rights of all people are respected.'; and

      (13) Dr. Biscet is a follower of the Dalai Lama, Ghandhi, and Martin Luther King, and continues to fight every day to bring democracy and justice to Cuba.

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.

    (a) Presentation Authorized- The President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall make appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design, to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet in recognition of his courageous and unwavering commitment to democracy, human rights, and peaceful change in Cuba.

    (b) Design and Striking- For purposes of the presentation referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to in this Act as the `Secretary') shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.

SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS.

    The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck pursuant to section 2, under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, at a price sufficient to cover the cost thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses, and the cost of the gold medal.

SEC. 4. STATUS OF MEDALS.

    (a) National Medals- The medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.

    (b) Numismatic Items- For purposes of sections 5134 and 5136 of title 31, United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered to be numismatic items.

SEC. 5. AUTHORITY TO USE FUND AMOUNTS; PROCEEDS OF SALE.

    (a) Authority To Use Fund Amounts- There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprises Fund such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck pursuant to this Act.

    (b) Proceeds of Sale- Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals authorized under section 3 shall be deposited into the United States Mint Public Enterprises Fund.