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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

U.S. House tries yet again to ease US Embargo on Cuba

Posted September 23, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By Anna Willard | Reuters

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday defied the White House and voted to ease limits on U.S. student travel and trade with Cuba but defeated a measure that would have lifted all economic sanctions.

The Bush administration had asked the House not to take any steps to water down sanctions and had threatened to veto the bill that contained them saying that they weaken President Bush’s tough stance toward Cuba’s Communist president Fidel Castro.

House Republicans said that because of the veto threat it is likely that the Cuba amendments, attached to a spending bill funding the Departments of Transport and Treasury for 2005, would be stripped out before the legislation is finalized.

In recent years several Cuba measures have been taken out of bills.

Cuba policy is a sensitive issue in Florida, a key swing state where Cuban Americans form a crucial voting bloc in the presidential race.

The House easily adopted a measure blocking new rules designed to limit U.S. students’ ability to study in Cuba. A separate amendment, also easily adopted, would loosen the restrictions on private companies selling medicines, farm products, and medical supplies to the Caribbean nation.

“It is time to change our policies and go in a new direction,” said California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who introduced the measure to ease limits on businesses.

On Tuesday evening, the House also voted in favor of a Democrat-introduced measure that would allow Cuban Americans to visit Cuba to see their families more frequently than the new rules allow.

The administration earlier this year imposed additional restrictions limiting how often Cuban Americans can visit relatives on the island or what supplies they can send them.

Those moves have angered some Cuban Americans, a block that overwhelmingly voted Republican in 2000.

But the House voted 225-188 on Wednesday to defeat an amendment introduced by New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel to lift the overall economic embargo.

“I would ask this Congress ... to stand with the Cuban people today and to reject this amendment which simply seeks to reward oppression,” said Florida Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who opposed all of the Cuba amendments to the Transport and Treasury Bill.

The House approved the overall bill by 397-12. The Senate has yet to consider its version.

Member Comments

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On September 23, 2004, Ibet Lopez wrote:

As the daughter of a Cuban American I believe that the laws should be enforce even more. The 3 year rule should have been extended to five years for visiting relatives. I don’t although believe that such items such as medication should be limited.  But as much as this suffering country complaints to the American people about their situation, most of them brag of how all they did was drink & party all the time with nothing else to do. A large majority of Cubans aren’t very pleased to have arrived to the U.S. when they realize that they have to work for a living. Commenting how hard the U.S. is to live in. Of course, here when we are hungry, we can’t just go out and kill a cow to take home. Also, I don’t really know of any country that its people know they will get at least a cup of rice or a pair of shoes.

I blame its communist of the Cuban people. I’m tired of hearing stories of participation/association with communist leaders so that they are better of than there next door neighbor. Still with our laws of how much money can be sent. I have seen with my own eyes how they laugh at the American government still sending large amounts of cash and with a receipt!!!! Just a week after the law passed !!! Who in our government is so blind that they can’t see what’ going on. These people have no respect to the U.S..

It is incredible that with such suffering they order a pair of sneakers (etc) from their family members here in the U.S by brand, color & design. I am an American citizen and don’t have that luxury!!!  I can’t afford it !!!

I don’t think the majority of the Cuban community will ever really appreciate what this country does for them. Have they forgotten that there is suffering throughout the world. They are not the only ones!!! Everything now is for cubans !! We need to have some respect for the rest of the world.

If they are so miserable living here in the U.S. then let them go back and fix their owns issues. 

What I fail to understand till this day is how much suffering can the families have back home if an individual has risked their life to come to the U.S. but has no desire or wish to bring their family.

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On September 28, 2004, D. Robledo wrote:

The above comment just goes to show how Cubans on the island and Cuban-Americans in south Florida are two totally different breeds. Disturbing scatter-brained commentary, to say the least. And as usual, these people are totally deaf to the ultimage argument: the FACT that the U.S. treats Cuba radically different from all it’ other “adversaries” or “enemies.” All this other BS about Cubans being lazy or complaining too much about their situation, what does that have to do with this country having a foreign policy that is RATIONAL and makes sense in regards to Cuba?? For example, most of the terrorists from the 9-11 attack were Saudi nationals—can you imagine the U.S. barring Saudi oil from entering the country??!  Didn’t think so, ja!! grin  But try to sneak a couple of Cuban stogies in through U.S. Customs and the rest of your baggage is strip-searched like you were a drug dealer! Strange and sad times indeed that we live in. . .

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On October 02, 2004, Kathy Gomez wrote:

Not all people affected by this new cruel travel policy are members of families that “escaped Cuba.”  I am a U.S. born citizen of Irish descent married to a Cuban man.  We have been married four years and have a two-year old (U.S.-born) daughter.  My husband has been denied exit from Cuba twice, despite being the recipient of two U.S. immigrant visas.  The above person agrees that my daughter shouldn’t be permitted to see her father for three years, and she would make it five! It is clear that she has never been to Cuba or she would know cows are state property in Cuba and killing a cow will land a Cuban in jail.  If she had ever been to Cuba, she would have been shocked to see that U.S. products abound there, despite the embargo.  U.S. corporations are making millions off of Cuban consumerism because they sell extra inventory to countries they know will forward the products to Cuba.  Coca-Cola, Nike, Hanes, Marlboro, Camel and other brands saturate Cuba.  It is right, in her opinion, that these corporate giants, along with pharmaceutical giants like Bristol-Meyers/Squibb, make millions in Cuba, but my husband living in the ghetto cannot receive $5 from me for a new pair of underwear.  She denies my toddler the joy of a walk in the park with her father.  If I were to find out that my husband had a brain tumor with four months to live, she would agree with the policy that denies an emergency trip for such cases.  I bet this person shops at Walmart and has a household full of “Made in China” items, unaware of the preferred U.S./China trade relations despite deplorable human rights conditions in China.  It is sad the such uneducated, reactionary persons are driving a wedge between Cuba and the U.S. further still.  How can any sane person believe that it is right and morale to separate mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, wives and husbands.  That’ what Fidel Castro believes with his inhumane exit permission process my husband is suffering from.  Now people like the person authoring the above comment and the Bush administration are working together with Castro to separate families.  Hey, if you don’t want to go to Cuba, you don’t have to.  Don’t even dare to suggest my daughter shouldn’t see her Papa.