We have received the following call to action from the Latin America Working Group based in Washington, DC. The action is mostly for USAmericans but we post it in full to share the information.
It’s been four weeks since Donald Trump took office, and we’ve yet to hear what his administration plans to do regarding Cuba policy. The administration says they are doing a “review” of Cuba policy and President Obama’s policy changes. But at this point, we don’t know whether to believe that or not.
Towards the end of their campaign trail, Donald Trump and Mike Pence both promised they would reverse President Obama’s executive orders. During his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson weighed in, saying that there would be “a comprehensive review of current policies and executive orders…” Nonetheless, the Trump administration has stayed largely silent on the matter since it took office.
Though we remain very anxious about the future of U.S.-Cuba relations under Trump—particularly since all the progress Obama made can be easily undone by executive action—the good news is that a handful of bills challenging the embargo on Cuba have been reintroduced in the House, and several more are due to be reintroduced in the Senate.
✱ The Cuba Trade Act (H.R. 442)
Introduced by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-6)
This bill would allow businesses in the private sector to trade freely with Cuba, while prohibiting taxpayer funds to be used on promotion or development of a new market.
✱ The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 351)
Introduced by Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1)
The bill simply removes the current travel restrictions to Cuba.
✱ The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 525)
Introduced by Rep. Eric A. Crawford (R-AR-1)
This bill seeks to repeal financing restrictions, allowing firms in the U.S. to offer credit to Cuba in connection with exports of U.S. agricultural goods. It also seeks to eliminate restrictions on key federal funding used in agricultural export promotions.
>>> Focus your advocacy on the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 525), which is the bill most likely to see action first. Ask you member of Congress to cosponsor this bill now!
✱ The Agricultural Export Expansion Act (S.275)
Introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
This bill aims to lift the ban on private banks and companies offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba, and to help level the playing field for exporters across the country and support American jobs.
✱ The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act (old bill here)
Previously introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
We expect Sen. Klobuchar will soon reintroduce this bill, which would lift the current embargo and allow more U.S. goods to be exported to Cuba. The bill would also eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba. It does not repeal provisions of current law that address human rights in Cuba or that allow individuals and businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government.
✱ The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (old bill here)
Previously introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Like H.R. 351, this bill would remove the current travel restrictions to Cuba. We're still unsure when Sen. Flake will reintroduce this bill, but we’re confident he will in the near future.
While we wait for the Trump administration to make up its mind on Cuba, we should still push Congress to support an end to the embargo, starting with trade and travel. It is through an act of Congress that the law will change. The fight continues!
Mavis, Andrea, and Anne
The LAWG Cuba Team
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