Opposing Rapprochement With Cubaby Representative Carlos Curbelo
Posted on 2015-01-12
CURBELO of Florida. I thank the gentlelady for yielding, and I
thank her for her tireless advocacy and work on this very, very
Mr. Speaker, during the 56 years of the Cuban tragedy, also known as the Cuban Revolution, there had always been two constants.
First, the nature of the Castro regime, a dictatorship that brutally represses its own people, and that aggressively opposes U.S. national security interests throughout the globe. That has not changed.
The second was that, to varying degrees, the occupant of the White House had always been on the side of the Cuban people and in opposition to their oppressors, who for decades have collaborated with America's most dangerous allies. Today, this is, regrettably, no longer the case.
By trading an American hostage, cruelly held by Cuba's dictators for 5 years, for three criminals convicted of spying against our government, including one who was serving a lifetime sentence for conspiring to murder American citizens, the President sent a message to our enemies that the United States can be extorted.
What was the Cuban government's reward for holding an American hostage for 5 years? Three convicted spies and full diplomatic relations, plus an economic bailout for a financially and morally bankrupt regime.
The men who rule Cuba today are the same men who had nuclear missiles installed on the island and pointed them at the United States, as my colleague from Alabama stated earlier. When they were cash-rich, they ran a robust military and deployed troops throughout the world to fight alongside our most dangerous enemies.
They have trained and supported terrorist groups such as Colombia's FARC. They ordered three American citizens and one resident blown out of the sky in the tragic shootdown of February 24, 1996.
A few months ago, they were caught shipping arms illegally to North Korea, and they collaborated with the Venezuelan government in last year's brutal crackdown, which resulted in the death of over 40 students.
Human rights atrocities by the dictatorship against its people continue. The Castro regime consistently resorts to violence because they know it is the only way they can maintain control since the Cuban people are desperate to be free.
The President's decision to ease sanctions only serves to bolster the dictatorship and its apparatus of repression. There is virtually no private sector in Cuba. More than 85 percent of Cubans work for government controlled-enterprises and earn less than $20 a month.
Foreign investment doesn't benefit the average Cuban. Cubans that work for corporations with foreign capital are only allowed to keep 8 percent of their salaries. Cuban workers are, in effect, slaves of the dictatorship.
Now, it is important to note, Mr. Speaker, President Obama's administration approved sanctions in recent months against Venezuela and North Korea. Why, then, is it rewarding an enemy of the United States just 90 miles from our shores that actively collaborates with both of these regimes? Why does the President insist on an incoherent foreign policy that too often rewards our enemies and punishes our allies? As other American Presidents have shown us in the past, peace through weakness and appeasement is not an effective strategy for dealing with Cuba's military dictatorship.
We also have to ask ourselves, what kind of neighborhood do we want to live in? The Americas, the Western Hemisphere, is the American neighborhood of the world. What kind of standards do we want for this part of the world? Do we want to endorse the chronic abuse of human rights, the imprisonment of people who disagree? That is the nature of the Cuban government, and we, the United States of America and, by the way, the other nations of this hemisphere, have agreed that we support a democratic form of government, and that we want this part of the world to be free without exception. There is one glaring exception, and it is Cuba.
Our sanctions policy, some say, well, it hasn't worked. Of course the sanctions have worked. The sanctions have denied billions and billions and billions of dollars to a regime that would use those profits to oppose our interests throughout the world.
What did the regime do when it had resources? It had troops all over the world. It exported revolution. And if you don't know what exporting revolution means, in the context of Cuba, it means aggressively opposing American interests throughout the world.
Today, we remember in a very special way, Mario Manuel de la Pena, Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, and Pablo Morales. These were the men who were brutally assassinated by the Cuban regime on February 24 of 1996.
One of the spies was convicted of conspiring to murder these young men, three of whom were American citizens, and the other was a resident of our country. These four men are dead, and the Cuban spies are free.
But it isn't too late, Mr. Speaker. The President still has time to get back on the right side of this issue and on the right side of history by standing against Cuba's dictators, with the victims of their brutality, and for a strong American foreign policy that advances our national security interests.
Again, I want to thank my distinguished colleague from south Florida for her leadership. We have admired her for so many years for her work on this issue.