Drafters of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on U.S. laws and regulations related to Cuba concluded that the political ball is in Cuba’s court, and that there is not much the U.S. could do to further ease sanctions on the island unless the President certifies to the Congress that there is a democratically-elected government in Cuba. The conditions for a democratically-elected government include a Cuba free of Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro.
“Absent a presidential determination of a democratically elected Cuban government, the President could end the embargo only if Congress were to amend or repeal LIBERTAD and various other embargo-related statutes, including provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Food Security Act of 1985, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1999, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (TSRA),” concludes the report.
Officially requested by Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-New York), Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and possibly generated by lobbyists in DC that support easing U.S. restrictions on Cuba, the report states nothing new. It was likely generated to create political momentum to increase support legislation currently making its way in Congress that would further ease travel restrictions to Cuba.
The pro-Cuba advocates may have gained an ally with the Obama Administration advisors who are sympathetic to the approach. However, engagement with state sponsors of terrorism such as Cuba, Iran, and the Sudan will never result in any useful outcome for U.S. interests. Petty dictators and tyrants should be treated as enemies of the U.S., not coddled like allies.
U.S. law with regards to Cuba – developed, debated, and deliberated in a bipartisan manner – thought through many tough issues with respect to a Cuban transition, balanced against U.S. interests. Rather than waste taxpayer monies on yet another Cuba study, Members of Congress, and the lobbyists that support them, should focus on pressuring the Cuban regime to change its ways. These policy sideshows are sand in the gears of progress.