FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Cruel New Rules on Cuba

by Rep. BILL DELAHUNT

Divert resources from antiterrorism investigations, mandate burdensome government paperwork and forbid families from helping — or even seeing — their relatives. That’s the new U.S. policy toward Cuba.

As if four decades of a failed embargo were not enough, the White House just made matters breathtakingly worse. To demonstrate its disdain for Fidel Castro to Florida’s hard-line exiles, the White House will now punish those most critical to the future stability of post-Castro Cuba: the moderate Cuban-American community.

The Bush administration recently announced a battery of provocative steps to undermine the Cuban government, but the real impact — like the existing travel ban — is mainly on U.S. citizens.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the tightened restrictions on, of all people, Cuban Americans. Until now, they could travel to the island annually and without hassle. The tears of joy at Havana’s Jose Marti Airport, as relatives from across the Florida Straits are reunited, are profound testament to the deep devotion of the Cuban people to the sanctity of the family — and to the hope for a day when the only obstacle to family reunions would be the 40-minute flight.

That spirit now is apparently contrary to U.S. foreign policy. The new rules permit Cuban Americans to visit the island once every three years — and then only if they can get a license to travel from the Treasury Department. Consciously or not, this is eerily similar to the Castro regime’s use of exit visas to determine which Cubans can visit their families living abroad.

On top of that, the White House has also restricted remittances. Under the changes, Americans are permitted to send cash only to a Cuban child, parent, sibling or grandparent — but not to cousins or nephews.

As foreign policy, this further undercuts the most effective force for democracy in Cuba: direct exchanges between ordinary Cubans and ordinary Americans, especially Cuban Americans. As domestic policy, it creates an expensive mandate for the federal ”travel police” to enforce the new rules. And as politics, it subordinates all else to a single electoral imperative: pandering to a shrinking and increasingly fringe element in South Florida.

Never mind that the United States just normalized relations with the Gadhafi dictatorship in Libya, leaving Cuba as the only country in the world that average Americans are prohibited from visiting. Never mind that the federal agency responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden’s assets wastes 20 percent of its resources on prosecuting U.S. citizens who travel — often innocently, sometimes legally — to Cuba. Or that we can spare military aircraft to beam propaganda into Cuba but can’t find a dime to help starving Haitians a few miles away. Or that the new rules come only a few months after both the House and Senate voted, by large bipartisan majorities, to lift the travel ban altogether.

The new Cuba rules are a cold, poll-driven calculation that has less to do with democracy-building in Havana than with vote-counting in Miami.

This is, however, a miscalculation. It will not break Castro’s resolve. It will do nothing to offer help to those in need in Cuba. Just ask Oswaldo Paya, the courageous dissident and leader of the Varela Project who lamented last week that the authors of the U.S. changes “looked to their own needs rather than those of Cuba and the peaceful opposition movement.”

In announcing the changes, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said that our goal is to “liberate the Cuban people from . . . dependence on international charity.”

For a Cuban American, returning to the island for a brother’s funeral or sending money to a needy aunt is not international charity; it is honoring the most fundamental of family values. To crack down on these familial responsibilities does nothing to advance U.S. interests.

U.S. Rep. BILL DELAHUNT, D-Mass., serves on the House Committee on International Relations and co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Cuba Working Group.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Women’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail