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Press Release

U.S. Reps. Castor and Republican colleagues file bill today to end Cuba embargo

Lifting embargo will end status quo in Cuba and make real progress on human rights

U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL14) and Tom Emmer (R-MN06) today introduced the Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (HR3238). This legislation would lift the Cuban embargo and allow for businesses in the private sector to trade freely with Cuba, while prohibiting taxpayer funds to be used on promotion or development of these new markets.

“The United States and Cuba have taken historic actions this year to set our countries on a more productive path forward for citizens of both nations and turn the page on the outdated 50-year policy of isolation,” said U.S. Rep. Castor, who represents the Tampa Bay area, home to a large Cuban-American population with historic ties that date back to the 1800s. “Today, I urge my colleagues to join me and Rep. Emmer in taking the next step to lift the embargo. This important step forward will advance human rights and lift the fortunes of families and entrepreneurs on both sides of the Florida straits. Lifting the embargo and reestablishing historic trade ties with Cuba will be a boost to our port and local small businesses in Florida.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this policy of engagement that will not only provide an economic boost here at home, but will also help the Cuban economy and its people flourish.”

U.S. Rep. Castor has advocated for a change in Cold War policies toward Cuba for many years, including direct travel from Tampa International Airport, lifting of the travel ban on American citizens and an end to the economic embargo.

“This legislation marks a new and exciting chapter for the U.S. - Cuba relationship,” said Rep. Emmer. “The American people overwhelmingly support lifting the Cuba embargo. Along with the Cuban people, Americans are ready for a fresh start and new opportunities for increasing trade, advancing the cause of human rights and ushering in direly needed political reforms. This legislation will improve our position within the region, while giving the U.S. a seat at the table and increased leverage as we prepare for the vast political transformations occurring in Cuba. The time has come for a change in our policy towards Cuba, and I am ready to work with my colleagues in Congress on policies that are beneficial to both the American and Cuban people.”

Business and community leaders have joined U.S. Rep. Castor in support of increased engagement with Cuba and ending the trade embargo on the country.

“The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce applauds Congressman Emmer and Congresswoman Castor on their efforts to lift the trade embargo on Cuba.  The Chamber has been diligently working to position Tampa Bay as the gateway for trade with Cuba and Congresswoman Castor has been a great champion of our efforts.  Our local business community is excited about the potential economic impact of opening trade, as evidenced by our three successful educational trips to Cuba.  When the time is right, we will be ready to engage with the people of Cuba to increase prosperity for all,” said Bob Rohrlack, President & CEO.

U.S. Rep. Castor is committed to modernizing relations and improving the lives of the Cuban people and Cuban-Americans in Tampa Bay. She has been working with President Obama since before he took office to modernize relations with the island, writing to then President-Elect Obama about travel to Cuba and calling for him to lift the restrictions that limit family travel to the island nation. She also advocated for increasing travel by broadening general licenses and successfully pushed the Obama Administration to designate Tampa International Airport as an entry/exit point for charter flights to the island nation, which has increased revenues for TIA since the first flights started in 2011. Upon her return from a fact-finding visit to Cuba in 2013, U.S. Rep. Castor urged President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to take steps to normalize relations and increase engagement with a changing Cuba.