The Cuba travel ban has done nothing, over the past five decades, to weaken the Cuban government or to prompt reforms in political or human rights. Most importantly, the Cuban people have been harmed by the ban because they have been cut off from the friendship and support of the American people.
Moreover, while Fidel and Raul Castro have frequently denounced the American embargo and travel ban publicly, many observers believe the embargo actually helps more than harms the Cuban regime by providing a scapegoat for all of Cuba’s problems. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for example, has endorsed this view and articulated a “personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do no want to see normalization with the United States.”
Now is the Time for Congressional Action
Earlier this summer, a key House committee passed landmark legislation to end the 50-year-old ban on American travel to Cuba and ease key restrictions on U.S.-Cuban agricultural trade. The “Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act” (H.R. 4546), bipartisan legislation introduced by House Agriculture Committee chairman Colin Peterson (D-MN), was adopted by that Committee but now needs to pass the full House and the Senate. While President Obama has spoken in opposition to the travel ban in the past, and could end it through executive action, he has yet to do so. Passage of congressional legislation this year is critical, as most experts believe political pressure against lifting the travel ban will increase as the 2012 presidential election approaches.
The travel ban is opposed by a broad variety of U.S. religious organizations; trade, commerce, and civic organizations; numerous Cuban dissidents and human-rights advocates living in the United States; a clear bipartisan majority in both chambers; and – according to numerous polls – a clear majority of the American people. What’s needed now is decisive action from our elected officials. As the late Pope John Paul II memorably said, “Let Cuba open itself to the world and let the world open itself to Cuba.”
What You Can Do
In order to get this done this year, we need to demonstrate broad momentum from across the United States in urging lawmakers to cosponsor H.R.4546. Click here to send a message to your Representative today asking him or her to support a floor vote in September on H.R. 4546, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.
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You can contact the Episcopal Public Policy Network at 110 Maryland Ave., N.E. #309, Washington, D.C. 20002; 1-800-228-0515; (202) 547-7300; fax (202) 547-4457;