U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) made a statement regarding President Obama's announcement to end the decades-long embargo on Cuba.
Denham stated concern for the President’s announcement arguing that actions must be proceeded with caution.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba ended in 1961 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower; the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 which is a federal law to restrict trade with hostile countries was cited by his Administration continuing a partial trade embargo. Under President John F. Kennedy, the trade embargo with Cuba became more stringent.
The embargo has been modified in many Administrations since, but presently limits any monetary transactions with Cuba, thus making it essentially impossible to visit the country without violating the law, though there are certain stipulations under which Americans can visit for non-leisure purposes.
In 2009, Obama eased the travel ban allowing Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba, and in 2011 restrictions were eased to allow religious missionaries and students the opportunity to visit the country should they meet certain requirements.
Recently, Obama has decided to reconvene discussions with Cuba, working to re-establish an embassy in Havana in the next coming months, though it is unclear whether Congress will provide funding for the project.
Obama has stated that the U.S. will work with Cuba on matters of mutual concern that advance to advance a variety of national interests including migration, counternarcotics, environmental protection, and trafficking in persons. Additionally, Obama has cited goals of improving the conditions of human rights and democratic reform.
The President is seeking to improve travel and remittance policies, support civil society in Cuba, and enhance the flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people.
He also supports the expansion of travel to Cuba with a variety of travel licenses, authorizing the expanded sales and exports of certain goods and services from the U.S. to Cuba. Obama also proposes authorizing Americans to import more goods from Cuba up to $400 with some restrictions.
“Congress must carefully review any agreement made with Cuba to ensure that we are not enabling the continued survival of a regime that has preyed on the Cuban people for more than five decades,” said Denham. “I am not confident we have received any meaningful guarantee of political reform.”
Denham did note the welcome news of the release of USAID worker, American Alan Gross who was arrested and detained in Havana, Cuba in 2009.
“I welcome the news of Alan’s return to his family, but unfortunately, the Cuban government continues to hold prisoners who have dared to challenge the Castro regime and speak in favor of the freedom the Cuban people deserve,” said Denham.