Focus on U.S. Interests, Not Those of the Cuban Regime

If Cuba has been able to purchase more than $1 billion in food from U.S. businesses during the past few years, why has the U.S. not frozen some of those funds entering the U.S. and place them in trust for these claimants? 

Congressional supporters of state sponsor of terror Cuba introduced a bill in the Senate this week that would allow Americans to travel to Cuba by telling, yes telling the President that he “may not regulate or prohibit”  such travel.  Is this the best they could do?   In their haste to just do something to placate the left and a group of lobbyists for certain large corporations, the measure could be legally dead on arrival. 

It has been long settled that the President has the constitutional, statutory, and regulatory authority to restrict the travel of American citizens and legal residents.   By the passage of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Solidarity Act of 1996,  bipartisan majorities further enhanced presidential powers in this area.  If enacted, this law would interfere with the President’s authority to conduct foreign policy. 

The U.S. has a series of serious pending issues with regards to Cuba that must be resolved before any “rewards,” such as travel by American tourists to the island, should ever be considered.  Control of travel to the island is the cornerstone of our policy because it is the one main revenue generator for the Communist government.   Hence, by taking away the President’s power to use travel as a tool, the Congress has infringed on the President’s ability to successfully carry out his foreign policy duties.

Placing aside the human rights question and issues directly related to things taking place on the island, the Cuban Communist Party has to account for a series of misdeeds against the U.S. before any easing of travel is considered including (and this is a partial list):

  1. The complete disclosure and dismantling of Cuba’s chemical and biological weapons research/program;
  2. Complete access by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of all of Cuba’s nuclear technology sites and facilities;
  3. Honoring extradition requests for convicted fugitives from U.S. law such as cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, various hijackers, and other felons; 
  4. Ending support of terrorist groups such as the FARC in Colombia, ETA in Spain, and many others;
  5. Cease working against the U.S. in the global war on terror;
  6. Cease support for fellow state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, and its proxies that are operating throughout the world, including the Western Hemisphere to destabilize U.S. interests and regional stability;
  7. Begin a serious process to resolve billions of dollars worth of claims held by U.S. taxpayers for properties illegally confiscated by the Cuban Communist Party (and that the Cuban regime has purposely sold to foreign companies and interests to create tensions in a settlement process);

These are not small or insignificant issues.  And no matter how hard the pro-Cuba engagement crowd in this town tries to sweep these under the rug,  these issues will remain and must be resolved. 

There is a clear and concise, for lack of a better word, statutory process, that lays out specific acts that must be undertaken by the Cuban Government before the U.S. will recognize it as a bona fide, law-abiding member of the Western Hemisphere.  In order to exact these concessions, President Obama will need every tool at his disposal, including the power to regulate tourism and exile travel. 

The Cuban Communist Party has studied these conditions for normalization of relations with the U.S.  It knows what it needs to do.  Until then, the U.S. has no interest in making it easier for the regime to consolidate its power; especially not when Cuba is undermining U.S. national security interests around the world.  At this juncture, Cuba has nothing of value to offer the U.S. but more headaches and problems. 

A politically thorny issue that rarely gets reported by the media are the claims held by U.S. nationals of properties stolen by the Cubans.  It is an issue that could become a political problem for the Obama Administration sooner than folks care to realize.  I have already talked with several holders of large claims during the past few weeks and people are paying closer attention that in the past.

If Cuba has been able to purchase more than $1 billion in food from U.S. businesses during the past few years, why has the U.S. not frozen some of those funds entering the U.S. and place them in trust for these claimants? 

Rather than spend time attempting to help the Cuban Communist Party consolidate power in Cuba, maybe these Senators and lobbying groups should focus on American interests, such as these claims, and help enforce U.S. laws so that U.S. interests are protected and made a priority for a change.

With regards to this latest Cuba travel bill, it is inconsistent and likely an unconstitutional power grab by the Congress.   It is a clever attempt to get around the Trading With the Enemy Act (TWEA), but inconsistent with  International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) that grants the President the power to deal with any “unusual and extraordinary threat” agianst the United States.

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