At a briefing at the White House yesterday with close to 80 Cuban-American Democrat Party donors and activists, senior administration officials supposedly briefed the group about the week in US-Cuba policy as well as what may lay ahead. Among the briefers were Valerie Jarrett, National Security Council staff, as well as State Department officials.
From what I can deduce from an attendee, it was a sort of victory lap as well as a next steps strategy meeting. And while the President and his advisors whine about the economic sanctions, they’ve also learned that they can do more because no one in the Congress is keeping them in check.
On the legal front, if any of this information holds up, the administration is ignoring U.S. law. Twisting it like cold pretzel dough, he’s made the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 a paper tiger. Of course, if the past two years are any indication, the US-Cuba Policy Corollary will apply to these supposed new regulatory changes that are in the pipeline: Congress will continue to let the President get away with it.
According to my source who attended the secret confab, new regulations may be issued in a few weeks that would further ease travel to Cuba. If Congress allows it, it will gut the intended purpose of people-to-people travel or, controlled travel designed to not enrich the Communist Party regime, but help the people of Cuba.
In addition to the travel changes, a proposed consulate is also on tap that, if it happens, would station a Cuban Communist Party outpost in Miami, Florida, smack dab in the heart of the Cuban-American diaspora. This move is akin to opening a Nazi German embassy, had it existed at the time, in the state of Israel before 1948.
Last but never least, and this item is not confirmed by the attendee I spoke with, the White House is also considering the easing of export controls on high-tech oil drilling equipment. This politically reckless move would further empower Cuba’s Communist Party by allow it to press onward with quixotic quest to drill for oil off Florida’s coast. It is a pipe dream that should not be allowed to go forward, at least not with the Communist Party of Cuba pulling the strings in Havana, aided by its allies in Iran, Russia, China, Cubazuela (Venezuela), among others.
Side note: It is somewhat amusing to watch, although not surprising, to see supporters Communist Cuba in the U.S. Congress say it is OK for Cuba to drill for oil off Florida’s coast, yet these very same people vote against oil exploration in the United States. More on this aspect of this issue in a future post.
Cuba may have come off the state sponsors of terrorism list, but it remains a national security issue for the U.S. and the region. And experts are already arguing that the Communist Party of Cuba will continue to spy on the United States and sell that information to the highest bidder. Why would we hand over high-tech equipment, coveted by our competitors and enemies, to a nation with no ability to control stealing of U.S. technology?
From an export controls and economic sanctions perspective, as is the case with the Iran, the administration is weakening U.S. national security and signaling to bad actors, we’re open for business, come and get it. As for the Communist Party of Cuba, they are engaging in something they’ve wanted to do for a long time: stick it to its mortal political enemy, the freedom-loving Cuban-American diaspora in South Florida.
While all this is going on behind closed doors, U.S. taxpayers keep getting ignored. For example, holders of U.S. certified claims against Communist Cuba are owed as much as $8 billion by the regime. As Obama doles out goodies, and Congress allows him to do so, the U.S. is also condoning as well as facilitating trafficking in properties subject to U.S. certified claims. The administration and legions of DC lawyers and lobbyists are helping the Communist Party of Cuba in its mission to make it harder to reach a settlement.
The good news? Communist Cuba is still subject to the Trading with the Enemy Act, an old but good law that makes it very difficult for Communist Cuba to do business with the United States. However, without robust Congressional oversight — meaning more than appropriation riders and press releases — the Communist Party of Cuba, and its DC supporters, will continue to skirt the law and try to whittle away at these and other laws and regulations. Legislation is not necessary. A Congressional hearing a week, however, would be a good place to start. Possibly amending the export control law to tap the Communist Party of Cuba’s pipe dream may also be a worthwhile, and doable, idea.