Opposing Rapprochement With Cubaby Representative Jeff Duncan
Posted on 2015-01-12
DUNCAN of South Carolina. I thank the gentlewoman from Florida
for her leadership on this issue, not just today, but for her whole
tenure in Congress.
[[Page H217]] As the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I was grateful to see the return of Alan Gross to the United States last month after 5 years of unjust imprisonment in Cuba. The announcement over this past weekend that the Cubans freed 53 prisoners was also welcome news.
Nevertheless, I have major concerns with the way this administration, the Obama administration, conducted negotiations and the way the decision was made to radically alter longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba.
The administration failed to consult Congress, failed to consult any Cuban dissidents or civil society in its decision to embark on its new course in Cuba. The administration says this decision will empower the Cuban people; yet softening U.S. policy without concrete Cuban reforms will only boost the Castro regime and government and facilitate the survival of the communist regime.
We need to focus not on what is best for the Cuban Government, the Castro regime, we need to focus on what is best for the Cuban people.
I ask you this: Will this deal mean more self-governance for the Cuban people? Will it mean more economic freedom for those who strive to innovate, those that are entrepreneurial within the Cuban society? Will they be able to start more businesses and have economic freedom? Will there be more religious freedom for the Cuban people? Will there be more rights to free speech? Are the Cuban people seeing this debate tonight on Cuban TV? Are the Cuban people able to access the Internet and watch what we are doing via YouTube or any other media? These are rhetorical questions, but I answer them with ``no,'' based on my understanding.
I recall it was only 1 week after the announcement of this U.S.-Cuba deal that the Cuban Government cracked down on peaceful protestors in Havana's Revolutionary Square. I point to that as evidence that it is still a closed communistic society.
In conclusion, the administration's decision is a reward to the communist dictatorship at the expense of the Cuban people. This action is especially disgraceful when we consider the administration's disrespect toward our friend and ally in Canada by vowing to veto legislation approving the construction of the Keystone pipeline.
These are issues that require vigorous congressional oversight. I look forward to working with the ranking member, Mr. Sires, that you just heard from, as we hold hearings in the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in the coming weeks and month.