Cuba Politics

Congressman Jeff Flake introduces HR 654 to ease travel restrictions to Cuba

Posted January 25, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

By Billy House | Republic Washington Bureau

Arizona GOP Rep. Jeff Flake today teamed with an influential House Democrat to introduce a bill to lift the prohibition on Americans traveling to Cuba.

“A new approach is long overdue,” said Flake said in a written statement. His bill, (H.R. 654), is co-sponsored with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

Flake depicted the fading health of long-time Cuban leader Fidel Castro as a time for a new approach to Cuban-America relations.

“For nearly fifty years our current Cuba policy has done little to bring democracy to Cuba,” said Flake, in a statement.

“Far from hastening democratic reforms, our current policy has given Fidel Castro a convenient scapegoat for his own regime’s failures. With the Cuban government taking new shape, we shouldn’t give the new leader the same excuses we’ve given the old one,” Flake said.

Flake has long said that he believes that the most effective way to hasten democratic reforms in Cuba is to ease trade and travel restrictions currently imposed by the U.S.

Less than six months after taking his congressional seat in 2001, Flake got his House colleagues to pass an amendment lifting restrictions on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba - by barring the Treasury Department from enforcing them restrictions.

But the Bush administration and Republican leaders have systematically removed it in negotiations with the Senate from a final bill every year.

Now, with Democrats in control of both chambers of Congress, the White House might not have the same cooperation of House and Senate leaders in blocking a renewed effort to ease the travel restrictions.

Member Comments

On January 26, 2007, bernie wrote:

Forget about democracy for Cuba and all the other inane reasons for denying me of the constitutional rights, just get on and pass that bill to allow the USA citizens to travel to CUBA and other destinations of their own free will.

If people and companies have not been compensated for properties taken for them it is their problem not mine, or the problem of the USA goverment, so go cry over your loss to someone else.

The world has changed so get with it.

On January 26, 2007, chino wrote:

Bravo Congressman Flake and Rangel, you guys have the guts to stand up and call BS on this old antiquated policy which is unamerican and anti family. I am Cuban American. I am proud you have chosen to protect my inalienable rights as a US citizen and helped my family in Cuba. Enough is enough and if the old assbackward community in Miami wont go, good thats their right, but don’t “Tread on mine” Thank you my fellow Americans.

On January 27, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

Get this bill passed and you will see a different Cuba within a couple of years, mostly for the better, but please no McDonalds in old Habana.

On February 02, 2007, Anthony Rodriguez wrote:

If the restrictions are lifted and normal relations are put in place, Cuba may well become the Japan of the American continent. It was an error 47 years ago and still is a mistake.The only ones that suffer are the people of Cuba and the United States.

On February 08, 2007, Sam Neff wrote:

Liberals and conservatives all should support the lifting of the travel and trade bans which our government has maintained for so many years.  Political change comes through contact and trade, not through extension of an embargo which has not had positive results for nearly a half century.  All the people of the US should be behind this bill, and make it clear to the President that a veto is unacceptable.

On February 20, 2007, HavanaBob wrote:

I never understood the raionale for banning travel to Cuba. U.S. citizens are not barred from travelling to Syria, Iran, ZImbabwe, P.R. China, etc. etc. etc. If Castro’s government is full of B.S., then a gigantic influx of American tourists is the surest way to yank them towards de-stablization, and eventual democratization. My suspicion has been that the travel restrictions had another, more sinister and unstated purpose - to actually keep Americans from ‘seeing things’, ‘hearing things’, and coming home with “funny ideas.” In Warsaw Pact countries and U.S.S.R., that was they were about.

On February 20, 2007, publisher wrote:


Welcome to the Havana Journal and welcome to our world. Make sure your Congressman knows to support this bill.

That’s the best way to “put your money where your mouth is” grin