Rob Sequin | Havana Journal
According to Juan O. Tamayo’s report in the The Miami Herald, Cuban Americans may be restricted to traveling to Cuba only once every three years if a rider is approved in the US spending bill making its way through Washington.
As you saw in the title, I write that I hope it happens. Keep reading to find out why.
Miami Herald article
A Congressional proposal to roll back the Obama administration’s broad opening of Cuban-American travel and remittances to Cuba appeared likely to be approved as part of a year-end spending bill winding its way through the Capitol.
“My concern is that this is very much alive,” Rep. José E. Serrano, a New York Democrat who has long opposed U.S. sanctions on Cuba, declared Monday as he tried to mobilize opposition to the proposal.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, submitted by South Florida Republican Mario Diaz Balart in July, to roll back Obama’s decision to ease U.S. restrictions on Cuban Americans who travel or send money to Cuba.
But the measure is part of a critical U.S. spending bill that must be approved by the House and Senate in the next few days, and which Obama would find it difficult if not impossible to veto, according to Congressional staffers.
The Diaz-Balart measure would return the restrictions to levels set by President George W. Bush: only one trip every three years for “family reunifications,” a cap on remittances of $1,200 per year and a tighter definition of “family.”’
“This is changing the rules in the middle of the game,” Serrano told El Nuevo Herald Monday. “What happens to Doña Juana, who left today for Cuba. She will be in violation … What happens to people who made plans to travel the 22nd?”
Senator Mel Martinez says…
Senator Martinez (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor as seen in this video concerning the foreign policy provisions relating to US - Cuba relations and the large amount of earmarks found within the omnibus spending bill. Senator Martinez questioned the Omnibus spending bill due to its misguided provisions dealing with foreign policy issues that have not been through hearings or consultations.
I forced myself to watch the 11 minute video and it was tough to watch. Marinez talks about the evils of the Cuban government, “protecting” US businesses who sell agricultural products to Cuba, Brothers to the Rescue etc etc. He doesn’t even talk about the rider to rescind Cuban Americans’ rights to travel to Cuba in this video.
Just before the ten minute mark, Martinez admits that the age of the US Embargo is “comical”. If this tired old “Plan A” Embargo is comical… meaning it has not worked to get rid of the Castros, why does he not want to consider a Plan B? The answer of course is money and power. If the Embargo is lifted, Martinez and his one issue cronies loose their political donations and power.
So, on to why I hope that the rider to rescind Cuban Americans’ right to travel to Cuba on this spending bill passes:
Hundreds of thousands of Cuban American have gone to Cuba in 2011, probably more so than any other year since the Embargo started 50+ years ago. More will go in 2012. They will bring money to their relatives who can now start a legal small business in Cuba. They will bring tools and parts and small appliances and of course cash with them to support their family in Cuba. Why Senator Martinez does not realize I can only speculate that he is taking orders from a very small handful of old Cuban exiles who don’t have any family in Cuba and wish to continue to get hundreds of millions of dollars per year from the US government to “study” Cuba and to “promote” democracy in Cuba.
I hope this rider passes and I hope that ALL Cuban Americans are banned from going to Cuba. Why? Because they would collectively be so pissed off that they will storm the offices and the phone lines of Martinez, Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman-Schultz etc and demand their AMERICAN rights to travel to any country they desire without restriction.
Attaching this rider to a spending bill is a scumbag move by Diaz-Balart but not unexpected. Passage of this spending bill with this rider will enrage hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans in their collective districts and THAT would would cause these one issue politicians to finally change their allegiance to the VERY TINY population of OLD Cuban exiles who have no family or interests in Cuba.
President Obama, if you want to end the Embargo on Cuba, pass this spending bill with the Diaz-Balart rider as written. Sit back and watch the Martinez types take some serious heat to change US Cuba policy permanently.