Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Statement on Travel

Jun 4, 2017 by

Alliance
            for Responsible Cuba Policy

201 N. Franklin Street, Suite 2760, Tampa, Florida 33602

 

 

“Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017”

United States Senate

Albert A. Fox, Jr., President of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, calls for unity and targeted action regarding newly introduced legislation.

In response to the U.S. Senate legislation introduced May 25, 2017,

Fox issued the following statement:

 

 

“The Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation joins scores of persons across America in highly congratulating U.S. Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) for their introduction of the ‘Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017.’

 

“The Alliance proudly recalls in 2000 introducing then Congressman-elect Jeff Flake to the absurdity of US/Cuba relations. Consequently, in 2001, the Alliance took Jeff Flake and his wife Cheryl to Cuba, during which time they had an historic meeting with the Cuban Foreign Minister. On the flight back from Cuba on a private jet, then Congressman Flake wrote his first ‘Flake Amendment,’ calling for the restoration of  Americans’ rights to travel freely to Cuba.

 

“Today many Americans and pro-engagement groups are excited the Flake-Leahy legislation has 55 co-sponsors —- implying the chances for passage are good if a few more co-sponsors could be obtained. Unfortunately, that implication is wishful thinking and grossly misleading.

 

“Senate Bill 1287 is “dead on arrival” and will not pass the U.S. Senate in the foreseeable future!,” said Fox.

 

“If the bill had 70 co-sponsors it still would not pass the U.S. Senate. It is not a coincidence 45 of the 55 co-sponsors are Democrats, and in the minority party. Only 10 Republicans, the majority party which controls the legislative agenda, have co-sponsored the legislation.

 

“The only way organizations and Americans who support the ‘Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017’ can be effective is to work together and speak with one voice. Their collective efforts should be to ‘lobby/educate’ Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), and Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).

 

Until these two leaders decide to call up any legislation allowing Americans their right to travel freely to Cuba, it will not happen regardless of the number of Senate co-sponsors. The situation today is no different than when Harry Reid (D-Nevada) was the Senate Majority Leader and Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was the Speaker of the House.

 

“To dramatize the point, if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called up the Flake-Leahy bill for a vote today, close to 90 Senators would vote in the affirmative. Then what is the problem, one asks? The reason Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are not going to call up the legislation is the same reason Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi did not call up the legislation when they were in the majority: Both political parties are beholding to the “anti-Cuba” crowd in Miami, Florida, and Union City, New Jersey, for political money. In addition, seven Cuban-American members of the United States Congress ‘control the Cuba issue.’

 

“Moreover, the travel ban is not going to be lifted from ‘the top down,’ but rather from ‘the bottom up.’

 

‘It is not an accident the only member of the Florida congressional delegation calling for lifting of the U.S. embargo toward Cuba is Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-Florida). When elected to Congress in 2006, she supported the embargo. She changed her views regarding US/Cuba policy in 2013 after studying the issue. By that time, an overwhelming majority of the Tampa City Council, (Tampa) Hillsborough County Commission, Tampa Aviation Authority, most on the Tampa Port Authority, and a majority of her constituents, called for engagement with Cuba.  Since that time, Congresswoman Castor has demonstrated positive leadership and proved there are no negative political consequences for doing the ‘right thing’ regarding US/Cuba relations. Quite the contrary, she has received more support from her constituency, from the State of Florida, and from across America.

 

“The Alliance enthusiastically calls for all supporters of the new Flake-Leahy legislation to work together in targeting Mitch McConnell’s and Paul Ryan’s constituencies. ‘All politics is local.’

 

“There is no better example of the absurdity and political pandering of US/Cuba relations by members of Congress than that of Speaker Paul Ryan. Before Paul Ryan was a Vice-Presidential candidate and Speaker of the House, he supported the right for Americans to travel to Cuba and the lifting of the United States embargo toward Cuba. Why did he not use his new position of power to carry through on his previous convictions? Answer: He pandered to all Cuban-American members of his caucus and collected political money from the ‘anti-Cuba’ crowd. Exactly what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did when they were in the Majority party and controlled the congressional agenda.

 

“Solution:  Cuba is the only country in the world to which Americans cannot travel. Therefore, all  groups and citizens across America wanting to restore U.S. citizens’ right to freely travel to Cuba, must immediately work together to get the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to schedule ‘Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017’  for a vote.”

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