Bill to Lift Cuban Trade Embargo Introduced

Bill to Lift Cuban Trade Embargo Introduced

Mere weeks after a group of senators introduced a bill to ease Cuba travel restrictions, another bipartisan, Cuba-related bill has been introduced in the Senate with an even loftier goal: lifting the Cuban trade embargo.

S. 491 was read yesterday by sponsor Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and is being called the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act. It would remove the legal barriers that prevent Americans from conducting business in Cuba.

"It's time to turn the page on our Cuba policy," said Klobuchar in a statement. "Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores. There are many issues in our relationship with Cuba that must be addressed, but this legislation to lift the embargo will begin to open up new opportunities for American companies, boost job creation and exports, and help improve the quality of life for the Cuban people."

The bill, however, does not eliminate the human rights laws created by the passing of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996. Essentially, Helms-Burton says that only an act of Congress can completely lift the embargo, and only if Cuba meets certain criteria: holding free and fair elections, releasing political prisoners and guaranteeing the rights of workers and free speech.

S. 491 has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Joining Klobuchar were Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), Jeff Flake, (R-Arizona), Patrick Leahy, (D-Vermont), and Dick Durbin, (D-Illinois). Interestingly, Sens. Flake, Enzi, Durbin and Leahy are all sponsors of S. 299, a bill introduced earlier in February that calls for the elimination of the constraints on American citizens who wish to travel to Cuba as tourists.

Nearly every Congressional session includes a bill that calls for the end of the Cuban embargo, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives. And while many of these mostly symbolic bills die before gaining any real political traction, this newest bill could be pushed through committee given the fact that Cuba is a bit of a hot-button issue right now and some high-ranking senators have signed on to it.

"Yes great comment Robert. To me it's an issue of freedom. If American's are truly "free" (which I know we aren't) the population should be able to trade with whoever and whenever we want. The government should not be able to limit us no matter what the over government "did". There is a common picture of Richard Nixon shaking hands Mao Zedong online. If we can shake hands with one of the most evil men to ever walk the face of the earth (He killed way more then Stalin and Hitler combined) but we can't trade with Cuba? The hypocrisy is insane. End the Embargo!!! " —February 16, 2015 20:05 PM
"I believe it would benefit the citizens of the United States to have Robert Bennett personally read his above statement into the Congressional Record. IMHO..." —February 15, 2015 15:46 PM
"I have in the past lived in Miami, florida kendall area to be exact for almost 30 years off and on and have cuban relatives by marriage. I have seen the bitter fights of the cuban embargo being ensnarled with the hatred of the Castro brothers and all that was lost when they left Cuba or forced out of the country. All points well taken, although for the last 50 years the Cuban American population in the United States has been benefiting from the opportunities from education to starting over in life have led to many contributions of the Cuban American population to the American community in culture, government and private business sector which has built a beautiful Miami present day. The other side of the coin is that all 2 million cubans in United States have been well housed, fed, educated, and prospered with the opportunities that are available in the United States to all that wish to strive for a better life. In the same 50 plus year time frame of continued Cuban embargo rhetoric, the 11-13 million Cubans 90 miles away living under very opposite conditions from lack of food to housing to the inability to prosper as their counter parts in the United States have while living the American dream. The Cuban American population is the only group that blocks the rights of the other 300 million americans that wish to end the Cuban embargo and open free trade without condition, that would at the same time open the world in total to Cuba and their 11-13 million population. The United States of America has full diplomatic relations without embargo retractions to the communist countries of China and Vietnam. Vietnam, a country that took the lives of over 53,000 Americans and held American POW and inflicted numerous atrocities on Americans under the North Vietnam regime never encountered such vocal and sometimes violent protests when the present day Vietnam still under communist rule opened full diplomatic relations with the United States without an embargo or restrictions or dissent from the United States of America Congress or Senate members. China, a communist political country for the last 60 plus years has prospered and become a major power and contributor in culture and trade to the world and have enriched their poulation with the full diplomatic and economic trade with the United States of America without dissent, based human rights conditions or embargo restrictions from the United States Congress. I view Cuba and the Cuban population as brothers and sisters in the world community as I do with the countries of Vietnam and China and protest the actions of the United States Congress members that continue on a course of a failed policy of 50 plus years of economic embargo that are advanced by members of Congress and Senate of the United States of America that fail the 300 million americans of non- Cuban heritage to advance their own political ambitions under under the guise of the current political communist system and human rights violations in Cuba, while the United States has full diplomatic relations without restrictions, or embargo with communist China and Vietnam that also benefit the United States population in trade and culture. In a changing world that is not as perfect as we desire from a political, economic or human rights viewpoint in America as nation we should be open minded and brave enough to embrace the countries of the world in the hopes of political, economic and human rights equality for all with open trade without restriction. It is time without hesitation or debate to end the political, economic Cuban embargo that is holding the rest of the American citizens of non- Cuban heritage their rights of free travel and trade with Cuba. It is about time members of Congress and Senate who back the present Cuban embargo represent the entire United States population instead of representing one group with a self interest manifested by their hatred of the current political system in Cuba under the Castro brothers. As an American of of Italian heritage that had his family leave their homeland for a better life in America, I view myself as an American first and of Italian heritage second when viewing world events and American foreign policy -that would benefit the United States in total and not my personal or family political agenda. Robert Bennett MBA Honolulu,HAWAII " —February 14, 2015 21:45 PM