Thursday, June 23, 2011

Activist: Cuba travel amendment "cruel" and "bizarre"

Here is a Center for Democracy in the Americas statement on the proposed measure to restrict travel to Cuba:

Washington, DC –The House Committee on Appropriations adopted by voice vote an amendment offered by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21) to prevent most travel by Cuban Americans to visit their families on the island and severely restrict financial support to Cubans by all Americans.

The amendment was added by the committee to the FY 2012 Financial Services Appropriations bill.

If passed by both Houses of Congress, and signed into law by the President, it would cap family travel and financial support to average Cubans at the restricted levels imposed by President George Bush in 2004.

Commenting on the committee action, Sarah Stephens, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, said: “This cruel amendment will divide Cuban families, prevent sons and daughters from gathering for funerals or family health crises on the island, and strip away financial support at the precise moment when economic reforms on Cuba make it possible for Cubans to live more independent lives by forming businesses. The bizarre message of this amendment – ‘Mr. President, rebuild those walls’ –stands Ronald Reagan on his head, and makes the hatred by some in Congress of the Cuban government more important than family values. It should not become law.”

The Diaz-Balart amendment repeals travel and remittance reforms put in place by the Obama administration in 2009 that allowed unlimited travel and financial support for Cuban Americans, and a second reform in 2011 that empowers all Americans to offer remittances to qualified Cubans. Estimates of the annual provision of remittances to Cubans range from $1-2 billion.

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