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Steve K.
Republican IA 4

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  • Opposing Rapprochement With Cuba

    by Representative Steve King

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    KING of Iowa. I thank the gentlewoman from Florida for organizing this Special Order, and I associate myself with her words and her position and also that of the gentleman from Florida (Mr. DeSantis). I didn't, Mr. Speaker, realize how much was in him about this issue. It was instructive for me to listen to that stream forward.

    I have had the privilege of serving here in this Congress with a good number of Members that do a great job of representing the interests of the Cuban people, and I also had the privilege of going to Cuba on a legal trip some years ago before I came to this Congress. But I would take you back, Mr. Speaker, to a time in 1959 and trace some of this history.

    The revolution against Batista in 1959 was back before we had as many replays on television as we have today. And I recall watching the revolution in Cuba, and as Castro took over, as the promise came that they were going to bring democracy to Cuba--that was the promise. It was going to be democracy; it was going to be free and fair elections, a government of, by, and for the people of Cuba; and they were going to choose their leadership.

    But I remember seeing on television the videos of the people who were lined up against the wall and executed without a proper trial, executed without true justice. I remember in particular--it is branded in my memory--a man who insisted: If you are to shoot me here in front of this wall, let me give the order for my own execution. And he stood there in a Cuban shirt down to here--white pants, white shirt--and he raised his hand and faced the firing squad and dropped his own hand. That was the signal to the firing squad. They fired. He was shot to death in front of that wall, along with many, many others.

    We don't know at this point how many political prisoners have been executed, how many have died in custody. We have got a list of some; we don't have a list of all. But we know this: it has never been, since that time in 1959, a government of, by, and for the people of Cuba.

    And the hope that there will be the day that the Cuban people would be free was manifested--or at least attempted to be manifested--at the Bay of Pigs. I would have liked to have seen the air cover that would have made that be successful. We didn't get that. But we look for the day to come ever since that the Cuban people could be free. The Cuban people could be free.

    Since that time, there has been the nationalization of the real property, which we heard from Mr. DeSantis. At the time that Castro took control of Cuba, 25 percent of the real estate in Cuba was owned by Americans. They held deeds to that property. There was other land in Cuba that was owned by people from other nationalities.

    Every other country was compensated for their real estate, except Americans. No American that I know of has been compensated for their real estate. They hold those deeds to this today, sometimes a second generation.

    Before I came to this Congress, while I was there, there was also a situation where the exchange rate for Cuban peso to dollar was 21 to 1 at that time. And so if anyone achieved an American dollar, they could take it into a dollar store and they would get one peso's worth of goods for it or they could deposit it into a Cuban bank and they would get one peso for that. That is a 20-peso difference. And that is one of the things that supported the Castro regime financially.

    Another thing that happened was sugar was 6 cents a pound. The Russians paid them 52 cents a pound in oil for the sugar. That was a subsidy of Cuba. When the Soviet Union--it was the Soviet Union rather than just the Russians--collapsed, then the subsidy for Cuba also collapsed and the Cuban economy was no longer propped up.

    You saw Russian tractors sitting out there, having been stripped for parts, in the only country in the world I know that had gone from mechanized agriculture to animal husbandry agriculture because their machines no longer worked. And the taxicabs are driven by doctors, with a five-cylinder Russian diesel under the hood of a 1954 Chevrolet.

    This country has been frozen in time. It has a collapsed and failed economy. It has been propped up by the subsidy of, first, the Soviet Union, and then later on, the Venezuelans, who are collapsing, themselves, today.

    This is a country of people that are vigorous people. They are an outgoing, hardworking, I will say, gregarious people. I thought I would see people down there that had the thousand-yard hopeless stare. I am sure that exists. But I also saw people that worked hard and they kept their chin up and they kept a smile on their face.

    I thought, If these people could be unleashed, if they could be unleashed by the heartbeat of freedom, if we could just get them that opportunity to be who they are, they would become a very, very successful island and trading partner and a nation unto themselves and, one day, an ally of the United States.

    So my dream has been to help them with that opportunity, and my dream has been to one day swim ashore at the Bay of Pigs and walk out and wade onto a free Cuba, with a free Cuban.

    But, Mr. Speaker, the Cuban people have been burdened with more than five decades of Marxist slavery that they have had to face. And this policy of the President's that comes right on the cusp of what is likely the biological solution in Cuba, which would be the end of the Castro brothers that would come along naturally and the opportunity to bring about a regime change in Cuba, the President of the United States may well have handed Cuba another 50 years of living in Marxist slavery when he had just the opportunity for them to be free.

    So our policy here in this Congress, I am hopeful, is the policy that says: regime change in Cuba and a government of, by, and for the people of Cuba. And I, one day, hope and pray to do what I have said with my colleagues here and many others, and that is swim ashore at the Bay of Pigs and wade out on the shore of a free Cuba.

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