Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Presidential Candidates on Cuba

Amy Klobuchar

Modernizing our relationship with Cuba. Revamping our approach to North America also includes modernizing our relationship with Cuba. I strongly support lifting the embargo and travel ban on Cuba. Increasing travel and commerce between our two countries will create new economic opportunities for American farmers and businesses and help improve the quality of life for Cubans. Our policies toward Cuba should emphasize our economic interests in expanded commerce and travel and our political interest in cultivating new freedoms for the Cuban people. More than fifty years of the embargo have not secured these interests­it is time for us to try another approach. That is why I have introduced the bipartisan Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba, boosting job creation and exports. It does not repeal provisions of current law that address human rights in Cuba or that allow individuals and businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government.

Klobuchar Statement on Administration Actions to Restrict Educational and Cultural Travel to Cuba

June 5, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate group “people-to-people” educational travel to Cuba, including a ban to prohibit cruise ships from stopping there. Organized tour groups on cruise ships are the most common way U.S. citizens travel to the island.

“Fifty-five years of isolating Cuba has not advanced our interests and has disadvantaged American businesses and farmers. We need to be expanding engagement with Cuba and building on the progress we’ve made, not returning to the policies of the past. America is at its best when we are innovating, making things, and exporting to the world­we should be encouraging, not discouraging engagement with Cuba.”For years, Klobuchar has fought to open the door to business with Cuba. In February, Klobuchar reintroduced the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act with Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to lift the Cuba trade embargo. The bipartisan legislation would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba and pave the way for new economic opportunities for American businesses and farmers by boosting U.S. exports and allow Cubans greater access to American goods. Klobuchar also supported an amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow U.S. agricultural producers to use two U.S. export promotion programs for agricultural exports to Cuba.



Letter signed by three candidates

Dear Secretaries Mnuchin and Ross:
We write to express our strong opposition to the recent decisions by the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce to eliminate group “people-to-people” educational travel to Cuba and ban certain passenger and recreational transportation to the island.
The actions by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to further restrict travel to Cuba represent a significant step backwards in the U.S.-Cuba relationship. Fifty-five years of isolating Cuba has served only to disadvantage American and Cuban businesses, farmers, and citizens, while failing to achieve U.S. interests including democratic reforms and improvement in human rights.
Most Americans visiting Cuba do so on a cruise ship. By making passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for licenses, the Administration is weakening our business relationships and undermining the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba, which will also hurt the Cuban people. Quite simply, the downsides of this decision far outweigh any potential benefits.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s policies have negatively impacted the numbers of Americans travelling to Cuba. After the number of Americans visiting Cuba increased nearly 600 percent between 2014 and 2017, travel has stagnated under the current administration and only increased approximately one percent in 2018.
Rather than returning to the failed policies of the past, we should be working to normalize our relations with Cuba and build a relationship that benefits both of our countries. Expanding engagement with Cuba will pave the way for new economic opportunities for America and the Cuban people.
We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Initiated by Senator Amy Klobuchar with the support of Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Reverse Trump's Cuba Reversals, Democratic Candidates Say. Do Cuban Americans Agree?


It’s no surprise the Democratic presidential hopefuls in Miami for debates this week want to reverse President Trump’s Cuba policy. But it’s not completely certain most Cuban-American voters will want that.

Of the 25 Democratic presidential candidates, 19 have staked out policy positions on Cuba. (According to nonprofit groups such as Engage Cuba, among those who have not publicly declared on Cuba is Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam — unusual for a South Florida politician. His aides say they are consulting him on the matter.)

Just about all of those 19 favor a return to former President Obama’s policy of engagement with communist Cuba — which Trump has rolled back.

In a Miami Herald op-ed this week, front-runner Joe Biden called Trump’s efforts to isolate Cuba “a Cold War-era retread.” Biden — who was Obama’s vice president — also accused Trump of “callously limiting the ability of Cuban-Americans to reunite with and support their families in Cuba.”

Other candidates — including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — call for ending the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. They also want Americans to be able to travel to Cuba with no restrictions.

Most American voters agree with those positions. But it’s not certain most Cuban-American voters do. In Miami-Dade County, the Cuban community once again seems split over the embargo issue. And a Mason-Dixon poll out this week shows 59 percent of Cuban-Americans approve of Trump.

John McAuliff comment on line:

The latest FIU poll showed that 57% of Cuban Americans support unrestricted travel for all of us. Other polls show 81% of Americans favor unrestricted travel.
This should be a no-brainer for Democratic Presidential candidates.


De Blasio says Cuba, Nicaragua have gone astray
Jun 28, 2019 

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions have gone astray, a day after he was criticized for quoting a Cuban revolutionary slogan.

De Blasio was asked to comment on the governments of the two Latin American countries on Friday.

The mayor and Democratic presidential candidate later said he did not realize that the slogan "Hasta la Victoria, siempre!" was associated with the Cuban revolution.

De Blasio said Friday that the revolutionaries were right to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, but the revolution later "went astray." He said Cuba "could have emerged as a democratic society."

De Blasio said the situation in Nicaragua is "very sad to watch," and President Daniel Ortega's time "has come and gone."

De Blasio has visited both countries.


Positions on Embargo Published in Tampa Bay Times

Would you end or continue the trade embargo with Cuba?

Michael Bennet

U.S. Senator, Colorado

I have supported ending the trade embargo on Cuba. U.S. policy toward Cuba has not been successful, and it is time to update it. We should be working to forge new relationships and build opportunities for the next generation of Cubans and Americans.

Cory Booker

U.S. Senator, New Jersey

We need a new path forward in our relations with Cuba. Only Congress can lift the trade embargo. To be sure, Cuba’s dismal record on rights, including repression of dissent, arbitrary detention, harassment of critics; and its support for Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime are issues that must be addressed as part of any future U.S.-Cuba relationship. 

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

The Trump administration’s policies toward Cuba have been largely counterproductive across the board, squandering the potential to make progress with the first post-Castro Cuban leadership in 60 years. U.S. policy toward Cuba should be one of engagement, working toward the goal of political and economic reform in Cuba and its participation in the hemisphere’s multilateral institutions. If the United States wants to have a positive influence on political and economic changes in Cuba, it has to maintain an open dialogue with the Cuban government and Cuban society. The Trump administration’s policy of hostility is hurting Cuba’s emergent private sector—the very people who President Trump has said he wants to help. U.S. economic sanctions only make life harder for ordinary Cubans and cause friction with our allies, while doing little to encourage a democratic opening. Reviving failed policies of the past is not going to lead to freedom and democracy in Cuba.

Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator, New York

The trade embargo with Cuba simply hasn’t worked and continues to hurt the people of Cuba. President Trump is going back to the failed policies of the past, instead of working to find solutions. There is much in Cuba’s domestic and foreign policies to dislike. But I would end the trade embargo so that we have the opportunity to influence Cuba’s government without hurting the American people.

Mike Gravel

Former U.S. Senator, Alaska

(through a spokesperson)

Mike Gravel would immediately end the Trade Embargo and open normalized relations with Cuba. The only reason for the embargo is to cripple vital sectors of the Cuban economy and then step back self-satisfied and claim their system doesn't work. It's an ideological effort, and the needs of the Cuban and American people don't come into the question for a minute.

Kamala Harris

U.S. Senator, California

(through a spokesperson)

Senator Harris believes we should end the failed trade embargo and take a smarter approach that empowers Cuban civil society and the Cuban American community to spur progress and freely determine their own future.

John Hickenlooper

Former Governor, Colorado

Generally speaking, I believe that more engagement is better than less, and that commerce, trade and U.S. travel to the island are the surest path to a freer and more prosperous future for the Cuban people. That said, we have clear differences with the Cuban government, including their poor human rights record and continued support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Efforts to address these issues would be a high priority under my administration. The current administration says their policy is designed to support the Cuban people. In fact, thousands of Cuban entrepreneurs and small businesses are suffering from the downturn in U.S. travel to the island. The Cuban people deserve greater economic and political freedom. They don’t deserve to be punished by the U.S. for the actions of their authoritarian government.

Jay Inslee

Governor, Washington

I would end the Cuba trade embargo. In 2015, I joined eight other governors who called on Congress to end the embargo. Ending the embargo would strengthen the U.S. agricultural industry and create jobs at home and benefit both the U.S. and Cuban economies. The United States should continue to be a champion for democratic values and freedom in Cuba. The best way to ensure that human rights, international security, and civil society are protected within Cuba is to engage with their government, people, and economy, not wall ourselves off. 

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator, Minnesota

(through a spokesperson)

Senator Klobuchar believes it is time to turn the page on the failed policy of isolation and build on the progress of the Obama Administration to open up engagement with Cuba while respecting human rights and property claims against the Cuban government. Her bill to lift the trade embargo and eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba maintains current law that addresses human rights in Cuba and allows individuals and businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government. Opening up new markets and lowering trade barriers are critical to America’s economic growth, and Senator Klobuchar believes that lifting the trade embargo will open the door to a huge export market, create jobs at home, and support both the American and Cuban economies. 

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. Representative, Texas

(through a spokesperson)

End it. Beto believes our interventions in Latin America generally, whether it is Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, or El Salvador, have proved to be disastrous at every turn -- causing many of the problems we are seeing at the borders today. This embargo against Cuba and our desire to drive out the Castro brothers has been counter-productive and has produced more harm and suffering. Beto thinks we must lift the impositions on Cuba and allow the people to receive access to the food and the medications they need to thrive. Beto would work with regional partners to normalize our relationship with Cuba and improve every dynamic of that partnership from trade to travel. 

Bernie Sanders

U.S. Senator, Vermont

(through a spokesperson)

Bernie believes the trade embargo of Cuba has been severely detrimental to American businesses and the Cuban people alike. He supported President Obama’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba and would lift the trade embargo as President. 

Eric Swalwell

U.S. Representative, California

It’s time to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. President Obama was on the right track by lifting various travel, financial and other commerce exchange restrictions and opening an embassy in Havana. The Trump administration’s recent tightening of the embargo by banning cruise ships, yachts, and other vessels as well as ending educational visits takes us backward on normalizing relations. This doesn’t mean we give Cuba a free pass on democracy and human rights issues. But our differences with other nations on such issues has not stopped trade relations, and – when wielded wisely – trade can be used as a tool to push such nations in the right direction. Isolation hasn’t worked; thoughtful engagement can.

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

I’m an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that would end the economic embargo against Cuba. The proposal would maintain sanctions against Cuban government officials for their human rights abuses and property rights violations. I also support lifting restrictions on American travel to Cuba. We have over fifty years of failed experience with policies of isolation. The Trump administration’s decision to reimpose harsh sanctions only empowers the hardliners within the Cuban regime while punishing its people. I support upholding normalized relations with Cuba because I believe that engagement supports the Cuban people; policies of isolation do not. 

Marianne Williamson


I would end the embargo with Cuba. It would be good to move towards normalization of relations, with open eyes to the problems with the Cuban government.

Andrew Yang


The trade embargo with Cuba is largely symbolic, in that it’s not going to effect regime change when the rest of the world is willing to trade with the island nation. The embargo has cost American billions of dollars. We should lift the embargo so that we can exert more direct influence on Cuba in order to combat their human rights violations and improve the living conditions for those who live on the island. 

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