HONORING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF VACLAV HAVEL
(House of Representatives - March 11, 2014)

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[Pages H2266-H2268]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




              HONORING THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF VACLAV HAVEL

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
agree to the resolution (H. Res. 506) honoring the life and legacy of 
Vaclav Havel by directing the House of Representatives Fine Arts Board 
to provide for the display of a bust of Vaclav Havel in the United 
States Capitol.
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 506

       Whereas Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech 
     Republic, passed away on December 18, 2011, at 75 years of 
     age, at his country home in Hradecek in the Czech Republic;
       Whereas Vaclav Havel is widely recognized and respected 
     throughout the world as a defender of democratic principles 
     and human rights;
       Whereas through his extensive writings, Vaclav Havel 
     courageously challenged the ideology and legitimacy of the 
     authoritarian communist regimes that ruled Central and 
     Eastern Europe during the Cold War;
       Whereas Vaclav Havel, who was imprisoned multiple times by 
     the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia for his advocacy of 
     universal human rights and democratic principles, maintained 
     his convictions in the face of repression;
       Whereas Vaclav Havel was one of the founders of Charter 77, 
     a group of 242 individuals who called for the human rights 
     guaranteed under the 1975 Helsinki accords to be realized in 
     Czechoslovakia;
       Whereas Vaclav Havel was a cofounder of the Committee for 
     the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted, an organization 
     dedicated to supporting dissidents and their families which 
     helped to advance the cause of freedom and justice in 
     Czechoslovakia;
       Whereas Vaclav Havel, as leader of the Civic Forum 
     movement, was a key figure in the 1989 ``Velvet Revolution'', 
     the peaceful overthrow of the Czechoslovakia communist 
     government;
       Whereas, on February 21, 1990, Vaclav Havel addressed a 
     Joint Session of Congress where he stated, ``Thomas Jefferson 
     wrote that `governments are instituted among men, deriving 
     their just powers from the consent of the governed'. It was a 
     simple and important act of the human spirit. What gave 
     meaning to that act, however, was that the author backed it 
     up with his life. It was not just his words but it was his 
     deeds as well.'';
       Whereas following the Velvet Revolution, Vaclav Havel was 
     democratically elected as President of the Czech and Slovak 
     Federal Republic in 1990, and after a peaceful partition 
     forming 2 separate states, democratically elected President 
     of the Czech Republic in 1993;
       Whereas under the leadership of Vaclav Havel, the Czech 
     Republic became a prosperous, democratic country and a 
     respected member of the international community;
       Whereas also under his leadership the Czech Republic became 
     a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on 
     March 12, 1999, and continues to be a valued ally of the 
     United States;
       Whereas during his lifetime, Vaclav Havel received praise 
     as one of the world's great democratic leaders and was 
     awarded many international prizes recognizing his commitment 
     to peace and democratic principles;
       Whereas, on July 23, 2003, President George W. Bush honored 
     Vaclav Havel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the 
     highest civilian award of the United States Government, for 
     being ``one of liberty's great heroes'';

[[Page H2267]]

       Whereas after leaving office as president of the Czech 
     Republic in February 2003, Vaclav Havel remained a voice on 
     behalf of democratic dissidents worldwide and against 
     authoritarian regimes; and
       Whereas the legacy of Vaclav Havel inspires those that 
     advocate and work for freedom from tyranny: Now, therefore, 
     be it
       Resolved, That to honor the life and legacy of Vaclav 
     Havel, the House of Representatives Fine Arts Board shall 
     provide for the display of an appropriate bust of Vaclav 
     Havel in the House of Representatives wing of the United 
     States Capitol.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Miller) and the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Moran) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.


                             General Leave

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks 
on the House resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
might consume.
  I rise in support of H. Res. 506, directing the House Fine Arts Board 
to place a bust of Vaclav Havel in the United States Capitol, which 
will serve as an honor of his exemplary life and legacy.
  Vaclav Havel was a man of many talents and contributions to the 
world. He was a Czechoslovakian playwright, essayist, and poet.
  Born and raised in Prague, during his formative years, Havel and his 
family were among the countless who fell under oppression when the 
Communists came to power and confiscated all their property; yet, 
still, he carried on, finding his way professionally working in the 
arts, but he knew he had more to give.
  Havel's contributions to society are without measure. Havel used his 
gifts of the written word to rally his countrymen behind the true 
meanings of freedom and the need for the human spirit to break free 
from the clutches of the communist empire.
  Within his well-known essay, ``The Power of the Powerless,'' he 
insightfully pointed out how citizens under communist regimes were 
forced to ``live within a lie.'' He stood as someone who would not be 
oppressed and served as a lead negotiator, actually, in what would be 
the end of more than four decades of communist rule.
  Many remember him for his instrumental role in the Velvet Revolution, 
where he became a dominant figure in the final push for a democratic 
government.
  Havel fought for his home, Czechoslovakia, with words and with ideas, 
and he aided the fight for the oppressed, and he won. Havel became a 
leader when his countrymen and women needed him the most.
  He was so respected by his peers in Czechoslovakia that he was chosen 
to lead postcommunist Czechoslovakia first as an interim President and 
then was voted unanimously to become President of Czechoslovakia in 
December of 1989 by its Parliament.

                              {time}  1545

  In today's environment, it is somewhat awe inspiring that he was so 
respected that he was unanimously elected to President. You don't find 
that too often these days.
  Six months later, Havel was elected as President at a popular 
election in July of 1990; and through his leadership and influence, Mr. 
Havel helped guide states from underneath the Soviet regime to their 
place in respected democracies in Europe. He helped bring down the Iron 
Curtain, and he aided his country's transition into a free market 
economy. He certainly deserves to be honored with his bust in this 
building that celebrates our own democracy and supports democracy, 
liberty, and freedom across the globe.
  So I urge my colleagues to support the resolution. I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 506, and I wish to 
associate myself with the words of the gentlelady from Michigan, as 
well.
  Vaclav Havel was an iconic defender of democracy, a protector of 
human rights, and an inspiration to people all over the world in their 
struggle to assert human rights as a universal freedom. His writings 
and his activism were essential in bringing democracy to a region long 
plagued by the authoritarianism of a Communist dictatorship.
  In 1990, Mr. Havel was elected President of the former Czechoslovakia 
and later, in 1993, the Czech Republic. Under Mr. Havel's 
administration, the Czech Republic became and remains to this day a 
staunch ally of the United States. After his time in elected office, 
Mr. Havel continued to serve as a voice for the oppressed throughout 
the world and a champion of freedom until his death in 2011.
  This bust of Vaclav Havel in the United States Capitol is a very 
fitting tribute because it is a tribute to an international leader and 
a man whose works helped to reshape the map of the world and the hope 
for freedom and human rights throughout the world.
  I urge all the Members of this body to support H. Res. 506 
unanimously, and I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it is my 
privilege to yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. 
Royce), who is the distinguished chairman of the Foreign Affairs 
Committee.
  Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Speaker, as the author of this resolution, I rise 
today to honor the life of a rather extraordinary man, Vaclav Havel.
  As we watch the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, I think it is important 
to reflect upon the life of the man who led the people of 
Czechoslovakia out from under the thumb of the totalitarian system he 
had grown up under, out from under the Soviet Union, and played a very 
key role in the founding of not one, but of two vibrant European 
democracies, one of them the Czech Republic and the other the Slovak 
Republic.
  I remember a young Croatian journalist, with tears in his eyes, 
saying, if only we had had someone, someone like Vaclav Havel, when it 
came to the divisions in the former Yugoslavia. Because, as he stated, 
the ideals that Vaclav Havel had enunciated, political pluralism, 
tolerance, and democratic capitalism, the way forward, the same way 
forward as was broadcast by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty--
broadcasts, by the way that were never heard in Yugoslavia; we never 
broadcast there. But he said those themes managed, without the loss of 
a single human life, for Vaclav Havel not only to bring independence 
for the Czechoslovakian people, but then to set up a separate Slovakia 
and a separate Czech Republic after the referendum.
  As a playwright, Vaclav Havel revealed the absurdity he lived under 
under communist ideology. He discredited--he discredited--the 
repressive Czechoslovak Communist regime, and following the brutal 
Soviet suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring, which was a movement for 
greater political liberalization, Havel was banned from the theater. 
Their attempt to silence him was to not allow his words to be heard. 
But instead, they greatly underestimated his passion for freedom, 
because instead of succumbing to their intimidation, Vaclav Havel 
became the voice and increased--increased--his political activity.
  Havel played the central role in drafting the now famous Charter 77 
Manifesto and was a founding member of the dissident organization based 
upon those very principles, and in 1979 he founded the Committee for 
the Defense of the Unjustly Persecuted. These and other opposition 
efforts earned him multiple stays in prison as a so-called guest of the 
Communist authorities.
  But Havel and the cause of freedom prevailed. Following the 
successful Velvet Revolution of 1989, Vaclav Havel became President of 
Czechoslovakia, and that was by a unanimous vote of the Federal 
Assembly, and that ended 41 years of repressive Communist rule.
  The following year, Czechoslovakia held its first free elections in 
four decades, resulting in overwhelming support for Havel to retain the 
Presidency. As leader of an independent Czechoslovakia, Havel presided 
over the peaceful separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics, a 
momentous and challenging task. As President of the Czech Republic, he 
paved the way for the country's entrance both into NATO and into the 
European Union.

[[Page H2268]]

  A strong supporter of Radio Free Europe, President Havel invited this 
U.S. international broadcaster to move to Prague, offering the former 
Czechoslovak Parliament building as a headquarters for them. And when 
some questioned the broadcaster's role after the fall of communism, 
Havel stated:

       We need your professionalism and your ability to see events 
     from a broad perspective.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as he 
might consume to the gentleman.
  Mr. ROYCE. Havel's zeal for liberating oppressed people did not 
diminish in later years, when he continued to advocate for democratic 
reforms in places such as Belarus, Burma, Cuba, and Iran.
  In reference to his role as a democratic activist, Havel simply 
wrote:

       We never decided to become dissidents. We simply went ahead 
     and did certain things that we felt we ought to do, that 
     seemed decent for us to do, nothing more nor less.

  The legacy of this freedom fighter serves as an inspiration for 
peaceful, democratic activists today. It is fitting, therefore, for us 
to pass this resolution and provide for a bust of Vaclav Havel to be 
displayed in the Capitol Building, the workplace of our great 
democracy. There alongside similar images of the great champions of 
freedom--Winston Churchill, Louis Kossuth, Raoul Wallenberg--his statue 
will remind future generations of the impact one man can have in the 
advancement and in the protection of liberty.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the original cosponsors of this 
resolution, as well: Majority Leader Cantor, Minority Leader Pelosi, 
Majority Whip McCarthy, Minority Whip Hoyer, Appropriations Chairman 
Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey, and the ranking member of the Foreign 
Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, with whom I worked particularly closely 
in trying to advance the values of Vaclav Havel.
  Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, we want to thank Mr. Royce, the chairman of 
the Foreign Affairs Committee, for introducing this resolution and 
promoting the idea of having a bust of Vaclav Havel in the U.S. 
Capitol. We completely agree with his motivation and the words that he 
has shared with us today.
  With that, I urge unanimous support for this resolution, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I would simply close by saying 
Vaclav Havel passed away on December 18, 2011, in the Czech Republic. 
He was 75 years old. And what an incredible life this man led, and I 
think certainly displaying his bust in the United States Capitol is 
certainly an appropriate and fitting tribute. So I would urge my 
colleagues, as well, to unanimously support this resolution.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mrs. LOWEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 
extraordinary Mr. Vaclav Havel who died in 2011 at the age of 75.
  Mr. Havel will forever be remembered as a defender of democracy and 
human rights in the former Soviet Union, having fought against 
communism and repression throughout the Cold War. Mr. Havel played a 
central role in the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ultimately paved the 
way toward democratic governance in the Czech Republic.
  Mr. Havel went on to serve as the first post-communist President of 
the Czech Republic. His leadership and vision helped lay the groundwork 
for the country's prominent standing in our democratic community of 
nations.
  I join my colleagues in support of this bipartisan resolution.
  It is time that we honor Mr. Havel's legacy by allowing his bust 
alongside those of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Raoul 
Wallenberg, Sir Winston Churchill, and Sojourner Truth in the U.S. 
Capitol. Their busts serve as a timeless celebration of some of our 
most cherished human rights defenders.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge your support.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, as we stand here today in this chamber 
as Members of the People's House sworn to support and defend the 
Constitution of the United States and the ideals enshrined therein--
freedom and democracy--it would only be fitting that we honor the life 
and legacy of a man who embodied those ideals.
  Authorizing a bust of Vaclav Havel to be forever memorialized in 
these hallowed halls of the United States Capitol alongside some of the 
world's greatest voices for freedom, equal rights, and human dignity 
would be an apropos testament to a man who was a tireless advocate for 
liberty, human rights and for the right of self-determination for the 
people of Czechoslovakia.
  It was Vaclav's unwavering commitment to his country and to democracy 
that inspired generations to rise up and break free from decades of 
communist rule.
  But the fervor for which he opposed ruthless dictators wasn't limited 
to just Eastern Europe, but to wherever they may be.
  His support of the people of my homeland, Cuba, meant a great deal 
and revealed Vaclav's true nature.
  Vaclav advocated for the rights, dignity, and liberation of the Cuban 
people and created the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba in 
order to increase the visibility of the plight of the Cuban people and 
generate global support for freedom and democracy on the island.
  I was honored to have authored the House Resolution in 2012 that 
celebrated the life and legacy of Vaclav Havel after his passing, and I 
stand here today to express my utmost support for H. Res. 506.
  Every time we will see his bust in the Capitol will serve as a 
reminder that we must never give up the struggle against tyranny and 
oppression--and that is how we will forever honor the memory of Vaclav 
Havel.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) that the House suspend the 
rules and agree to the resolution, H. Res. 506.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the resolution was agreed to.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________