By The Associated Press
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., joined seven colleagues in introducing a bill Wednesday that would allow Americans to travel to Cuba without existing ‘‘draconian’’ restrictions.
‘‘I’m suggesting a small change to maybe get a few more people in there to increase conversation for people that understand the way the United States works and the way Cuba works and how they ought to drift more rapidly towards where we are,’’ Enzi told fellow senators.
‘’ ... Castro’s cruelty might tempt us to tighten the already strong restrictions on the relations between our two countries, but I hope we will not do that.’‘
Enzi said if Cuban-Americans are halted from bringing financial assistance to their families in Cuba and the sale of agricultural and medicinal products are stopped, ‘‘we will not be hurting the Cuban government. We will be hurting the Cuban people by diminishing their faith and trust in the United States and reducing the strength of the ties that bind the people of our two countries.’‘
‘‘If we allow more and freer travel to Cuba, if we increase trade and dialogue, we take away Castro’s ability to blame the hardships of the Cuban people on the United States.’‘
Other sponsors include Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont.; Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.; Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.; Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.; Larry Craig, R-Idaho; Mark Dayton, D-Minn.; and Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, S. 950, states that the president shall not prohibit, either directly or indirectly, travel to or from Cuba by United States citizens or transactions incident to such travel.
‘‘One of the reasons I became involved in this issue is because a Cuban-American from Jackson, Wyoming, had been in Cuba visiting his family, doing his one visit a year,’’ Enzi said. ‘‘As he left and was on the plane coming back to Wyoming, one of his parents died. He couldn’t go back there for a year. This is not a good situation for any family.
‘‘Educational groups can apply for licenses to travel for scholarly reasons like educational opportunities and conferences. Members of the U.S. government can travel for fact-finding reasons. But for the average American, the process is too complicated.’‘
Enzi said it is time to stop supporting a policy that was implemented 40 years ago.