For conservative Cuban-Americans of the younger (and more pragmatic) generation, the Democrat victory in November had one beneficial effect — it will help us end the isolation of Cuba. I have always thought that if the U.S . Cuba policy were guided by American interests (rather than the desires of the aging Cuban-American power-elites) the policy would be quite different. The following, from Congress Daily , is simply wonderful news.
House Members Upbeat On Prospects For Cuba Legislation
Several House members told farm and business lobbyists Monday night they expect a wide range of bills to be proposed this session to expand trade with Cuba and that they can succeed if the lobbyists work hard to get them passed. “We’ve got to get the business community more engaged. This town gets things done because there’s a stick outside your head,” Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., said at a Capitol Hill reception organized by USA Engage, a group created by the National Foreign Trade Council and farm lobbyists. Farr said that under the Bush administration, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has tightened regulations on sales of agricultural products to Cuba and urged farm leaders to “come back to us with details on what we can attack.” Farr is a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. He said in an interview he believes “a lot” of committees will take up Cuba bills this year.
Among those bills could be measures to ease sales of U.S. agricultural products, ease the travel of Cuban-Americans and other Americans to Cuba, ease the travel of Americans to study medicine in Cuba and also make it easier for the U.S. entertainment industry to attend world music and film festivals in Cuba, Farr said. Ways and Means Chairman Rangel has introduced a bill to end the U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba and another measure to overturn the ban on travel. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., also told the group he would introduce a measure soon to overturn strict OFAC rules on financial transactions and make it easier for U.S. business leaders and Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba. “I believe it is modest enough to pass the House and Senate,” Moran said.
Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who recently traveled to Cuba and co-chairs the Cuba Working Group with Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass., said he would be “very surprised” if President Bush vetoed a bill Delahunt has drafted to reduce restrictions on the travel of Cuban-Americans to Cuba. “The president might move unilaterally before the bill would reach his desk,” Flake said, adding that there are enough votes in the House to ease the agricultural finance regulations. Flake also said he expected a bill to be introduced on oil exploration in Cuban waters. The Arizona Republican also told the group the prospects for passing Cuba legislation are better under the Democrats. “I’d like to be in the majority,” Flake said, “but on a couple of issues there are advantages with Democratic majorities.”
I would rather the President had taken the lead in formulating a more rational Cuba policy, but nobody can afford to be picky about allies these days. As I wrote in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, a shift in U.S. policy will “bring hope to Cubans everywhere that the nightmare of communism and exile may finally be coming to an end.”