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  • Opposing Rapprochement With Cuba

    by Representative Steve Chabot

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to join with my colleague and friend, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, in opposition to the December 17 announcement by President Obama to change U.S. policy toward Cuba. We will also be joined by some of our other colleagues, and I want to particularly thank Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen for her leadership on all issues regarding Cuba. She has been a leader on this issue for a long, long time and will continue to be, I am sure.

    This policy change was a unilateral decision made without consulting Congress and with complete disregard of long-term national security consequences. Similarly, the so-called prisoner exchange was terribly flawed.

    In 2013, Secretary Kerry stated that swapping convicted Cuban spies for Alan Gross was off the table, testifying before Congress that since Mr. Gross was wrongly imprisoned, there was no equivalency to pursue a spy for spy tradeoff. Let us be clear: the freedom of Alan Gross is welcome news, but this exchange was totally one-sided. It was tragically flawed. It was not in the best interest of the people of the United States, and it was not in the best interest of the people of Cuba.

    As my colleague, Representative Ros-Lehtinen, has rightly highlighted these past few weeks since the decision and the prisoner exchange occurred, Cuban spies have been responsible for the deaths of American lives. It is absolutely true that they have been. And they have been released. Those are the people who were responsible for American deaths. Cuban patriots who have risked their lives every day to fight for basic rights and freedoms feel betrayed.

    The exchange was flawed. The policy itself is flawed, and the announcement [[Page H215]] has also let down one of the United States' strongest ally in the world, Israel. Year after year, Israel has stood at the United States' side--one of the very few--supporting the United States at the United Nations in 98 percent of all votes, including votes that the world's worst actors pushed through to condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

    Unfortunately, those who have long nourished and fostered cozy relationships with Cuba, most notably Russia and Venezuela and various terrorist organizations around the world, are welcoming the policy changes with open arms.

    We need to be honest about the implications of President Obama's new policy. His unilateral decision to change Cuba policy poses a threat to U.S. national security. If the trade embargo is lifted, money will flow into the hands of the Castro brothers, allowing them to financially support surreptitious espionage activities with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and nations like North Korea.

    Since the President made his public announcement, nearly 100 Cubans have already been detained. The United States should always stand for democracy and freedom around the world. We should demand that the Castro regime release all political prisoners and hold free and fair elections before establishing diplomatic relations.

    I once again thank the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for her leadership in this area for many, many years, and it is an honor to speak this evening with her.

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