Dear Cuba Policy Advocates:
We have been working hard over the past month to organize the upcoming Cuba Action Day here in Washington on April 27th, but we realize that there are some developments in Cuba policy to share, also.
First of all, we hope that you are making plans to come to Washington, DC, for Cuba Action Day. For more information and to register, please see [url=http://www.cubaactionday.org]http://www.cubaactionday.org[/url] . Please refer friends and colleagues as well. Those of you who have already registered have received your first email follow-up and the schedule for the day. We hope you are as excited about this event as we are. It will be a big kick-off for a nationwide, on-going campaign to change Cuba policy. Help us spread the word that Cuba Action Day is not a one-day event, but part of a dynamic relationship between national and local actions.
Schedule a meeting with your member of Congress in his/her district office prior to April 27th to “prime the pump” for meetings here in DC on Cuba Action Day. This is especially important if you are unable to attend the event in DC. House of Representatives members will be in their district offices February 18-28 and March 21-April 4. Senators will be in their state offices February 21-25 and March 21-April 1. If you need help, advice, or talking points for your meeting, please contact us. You can find the phone numbers and addresses for district/state offices on your senators’ and representative’s websites by going to [url=http://www.senate.gov]http://www.senate.gov[/url] or [url=http://www.house.gov]http://www.house.gov[/url]
New Legislation: On February 9th, the Agricultural Export Facilitation Act of 2005, S. 328, was introduced by Senator Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), along with Senators Max Baucus (D-Montana), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana), Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska), Jim Talent (R-Missouri), Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyoming), Lincoln D. Chafee (R-Rhode Island), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Patty Murry (D-Washington), Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Byron L. Dorgan (D-North Dakota), Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska), Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), Mark Pryor (D-Arkansas), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). This bill is an important step toward rolling back all restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba.
The Washington Post wrote: “In part, the legislation is a response to the administration’s efforts to change the way Cuba pays U.S. farmers for food.” The administration has been considering forcing Cuba to pay cash in advance of shipment for any food the island buys from U.S. companies, rather than cash in advance of delivery. Until late last year, the practice had been for Cuba to pay for agricultural shipments in transit or after they arrived at a Cuban port, but before formal title for the goods exchanged hands. A move to change the definition of “cash in advance”, analysts say, would jeopardize millions of dollars a year in food sales. In the first 11 months of last year, Cuba bought $362.7 million in agricultural products from the United States, according to trade monitors. Opponents of commerce with Cuba argue that the 2000 TSRA law (the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act), which allowed the initiation of food sales, called for cash in advance, and not credit. They maintain that cash paid after shipment is “credit.” This bill effectively deals with that argument, re-affirming that the original intent of Congress in the TSRA law was to allow food sales to Cuba—for cash—but not requiring cash in advance of shipment. Our allies in both Cuba Working Groups are enthusiatically supporting this bill, as are we. Though we favor ending the full travel ban, this bill contains one step in that direction. And it gains valuable support from the agricultural community.
Now the bill needs more co-sponsors. Here’s where you can help.
Call, write or email your senators and urge them to co-sponsor the Agricultural Export Facilitation Act of 2005. To find contact information for your senators visit [url=http://www.senate.gov]http://www.senate.gov[/url] Thanking Sentor Craig, Senator Baucus (who both took leadership in introducing the bill) and their co-sponsors would also be much appreciated. This sort of action, which only takes a few moments of your time, can have a large effect on the senators. Please take the time to make this contact.
Pending House bill: We are waiting for a companion bill to the Agricultural Export bill to be introduced in the House. We’ll let you know when that happens. An identical bill in each chamber always strenthens the effort.
Other legislation: We have word from our allies on the Hill that there they are planning to introduce many different pieces of legislation in the next few months to undo the recent actions of the administration. We’ll keep you informed of the details as they happen.
Again, thanks for your partnership; and we look forward to seeing you in person here in DC on April 27th! Our coalition is growing and deepening; please be part of it.
Latin America Working Group