Cuban American One of Two Appointees to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

Cuban American One of Two Appointees to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

In a press release today, Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced the appointments of Dr. Daniel I. Mark and Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

For Daniel Mark, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University, this will be his second appointment. This will be the first appointment for Kristina Arriaga, M.A.L.S; Executive Director of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and former advisor to the US delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). She also worked for the Cuban American National Foundation. “Arriaga will succeed Dr. Robert George of Princeton who has completed two terms on the Commission” according to the press release.

Speaker Ryan had nothing but praise for the new appointees. “Beyond a wealth of insight, Dr. Mark has brought great moral courage to the Commission to appoint him,” he said. “The daughter of parents who fled Castro’s Cuba, Kristina Arriaga has dedicated her life to the liberty of others. Her voice and experiences as a freedom fighter make Kristina a great addition to the Commission.”

Both come from distinguished educational and professional backgrounds. Daniel Mark earned his Ph.D. in political science from Princeton University. Kristina Arriaga earned her Master’s degree from Georgetown University. She has spent a lifetime raising awareness for the plight of Cubans, especially because her parents are Cuban-Americans. Her appointment comes at a time when relations between the US and Cuba are the most favorable in more than fifty years.

Those working for this organization are tasked with protecting religious liberty. In a statement on the official website of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom:

“USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, federal commission created in 1998 through the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). USCIRF uses international standards, such as Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to monitor violations of religious freedom or belief abroad. Such violations range from the denial of permits to build places of worship to the detention, torture, killing or displacement of individuals due to their holding or practicing a particular religion or belief. USCIRF also makes recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress to help protect, defend, and advance this essential liberty.”

In a time when religious persecution is at an all-time high around the world, this work is indispensable and the two appointees bring years of experience and expertise to the table.

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