Trump Policy Exacts Harsh Toll on Entrepreneurs in Cuba and the Freedom of Americans to Travel
Washington, June 4, 2019
Today’s announcement does nothing to hurt the Cuban government, rather Cuban entrepreneurs, American businesses and the American public will be the ones to suffer. Americans should be able to travel freely and remain our best ambassadors to promote democracy and human rights.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the following statement regarding the Trump administration’s announcement of harsh restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, which essentially eliminates groups of Americans participating in cultural and education travel exchanges:
“Since the U.S. reestablished diplomatic ties with Cuba, thousands of Americans, including many families from my own community, have visited the island. These activities have not only opened new economic opportunities for Americans and Cubans alike, they serve as an integral part of our efforts to promote the spread of democracy and ensure the security of our region. More Americans should be encouraged to travel to Cuba rather than adding burdensome restrictions on Americans, cultural exchanges and businesses. Rather than building on progress, President Trump continues an agenda that is simply focused on unraveling any advancements made during the previous administration.
“The Trump policy exacts a harsh toll on small business owners and entrepreneurs in Cuba, on families and on the freedom of Americans to travel. Over the past few years, President Trump has in effect shuttered the American Embassy, removed human right officers and harmed private sector entrepreneurs on the island. Cuban American families have been punished by President Trump as well through his mean-spirited restrictions on family travel and remittances. Personal travel by sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives is being thwarted through costly and inane visa requirements that involve travel to another country. These moves empower the Cuban government at the expense of everyday Cubans and Americans. The Cold War policies of the past were ineffective in improving human rights and yet the Trump administration takes America backwards to a dark time of isolation and suspicion.
“Today’s announcement does nothing to hurt the Cuban government, rather Cuban entrepreneurs, American businesses and the American public will be the ones to suffer. Americans should be able to travel freely and remain our best ambassadors to promote democracy and human rights. These latest restrictions only underscore the need for Congress to act and end the travel restrictions imposed on American citizens’ right to travel, to study, to worship and to interact with other people of the world anywhere and anytime they choose, including Cuba.”
U.S. Rep. Castor represents Tampa, Fla., in the U.S. Congress, a city largely founded by Cubans and today a substantial population of Cubans call Tampa home. U.S. Rep. Castor has been dedicated to improving the lives of Cuban Americans. She successfully advocated the Obama Administration to ease travel and spending restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting relatives in Cuba. In 2011, President Obama announced that Tampa International Airport's (TPA) eligibility to resume direct flights to and from Cuba after years of ambitiously lobbying for this. TPA is now one of the busiest airports in the nation for direct flights to Cuba. U.S. Rep. Castor has visited Cuba, filed legislation to lift the Cuba embargo and has championed greater engagement as well as economic and human rights reforms to benefit both the people of Cuba and the United States. U.S. Rep. Castor revived the House bipartisan Cuba Working Group to build broader support in Congress for greater engagement with Cuba and has led a bipartisan Congressional delegation to the island to survey progress and examine travel, trade, jobs, internet access, human rights and agriculture. She has been critical of President Trump’s decision to reinstate failed isolationist policies towards Cuba, including most recently its announcement of new, hardline restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba and the full enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.