|Cuba Study Group Director Thomas Bilbao|
Washington, DC- The Cuba Study Group today issued the following statement in reaction to an amendment offered yesterday by Representative Mario Diaz-Balart to an appropriations bill, which would restrict the ability of Cuban-Americans to visit and help their families in Cuba:
“It is unfortunate that Representative Mario Diaz-Balart continues to use the suffering of Cuban families as a weapon in furthering a failed policy aimed at the Cuban regime.
At a time when the Cuban government has found it necessary to implement reforms, and Cubans are increasingly becoming independent of the state, Representative Diaz-Balart’s efforts only add to the isolation and suffering of the Cuban people and make a democratic transition on the island less likely.
Democratic transitions from authoritarian rule in Eastern Europe, apartheid South Africa and even the Arab Spring we are now witnessing, have proven that contact with the outside world has played a crucial role in promoting those changes. In none of these successful cases, did the U.S. restrict contact between U.S. civil society and those nations.
We reject Representative Diaz-Balart’s efforts to use the suffering of Cuban families as an instrument of a policy, which has failed to yield any positive results for over 50 years. The Cuban revolution has brought enough suffering to Cuban families and policymakers should offer a U.S. policy that stands in sharp contrast to it, not one that contributes to that suffering in hopes of maintaining the status quo or furthering a sterile policy.”
The House Committee on Appropriations approved Representative Diaz-Balart’s amendment in a voice vote yesterday. The amendment repeals regulatory changes enacted by President Obama in April of 2009 and return to the policies of January 2009, when President George W. Bush enacted the most severe restrictions on travel to the island.