WHY YOU ARE RECEIVING THIS ALERT
The best opportunity ever to move toward a more rational Cuba policy occurred this summer when the House voted in larger numbers than before to ease restrictions on travel, agriculture sales, and on remittances (money that Cubans in the US can send to their families in Cuba). The Senate is expected to take up the same issues, probably in early September, and then go to conference to reconcile differences. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' long-standing position in favor of these changes should be part of any contact you can have with your Representatives and Senators over recess. If any of the conferees are from your district/state (see below), they deserve your special attention.
The key House votes on Cuba in July were on amendments to the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill (HR 5120). The Rangel (D-NY) language to de-fund enforcement of the full embargo, the most comprehensive measure, got 204 votes, three more than last year, but lost to 226 against. The Goss (R-FL) motion, aimed to preven changes in Cuba policy by linking them to a Presidential certification that Cuba is not developing biological weapons or harboring terrorists, lost 247-182. And most encouraging of all, the vote on the Flake (R-AZ)-McGovern (D-MA) amendment to de-fund enforcement of the travel ban carried 262-167.
The goal now is (1) to strengthen Senate resolve to keep the key language ending restrictions on travel, agriculture sales and remittances when they debate and vote the Treasury-Postal Appropriations (S 2740) next month and and, (2) to focus attention on the members of the House-Senate conference committee, urging them to keep the House language in the final bill. It was in conference last year that the Republican leadership succeeded in nullifying previous House votes for these changes.
The Conference has long supported ending restrictions especially on the sale of food and medicine and on travel. Over the years our basic message has made the following points:
- The principal effect of U.S. embargo is to strengthen Castro's control, providing the basis for his constant denunciation of the U.S., blaming Cuba's genuine shortages of medicines and food on the embargo, instead of on a failed economic system and the end of Soviet subsidies.
- Dollar-laden tourists and the party faithful live well enough, and Cuba is a world leader in certain areas of medicine for paying tourists, but the average poor Cuban--a majority--suffer real and constant deprivation both as to food and basic healthcare.
- The Catholic Church in Cuba is unalterably opposed to the embargo. Most of the known political dissidents also oppose it.
- Getting that issue off the table could clear the way for the more constructive dialogue and eventual negotiation that must eventually take place.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Contact your Senators and urge them to retain the language of the House bill on the easing of travel restrictions, agriculture sales and remittances when the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill is voted on next month and
- If any of the following conferees are from your district/state, please make an effort to reach them and reiterate the message to keep the House language when the bill goes to conference.
Senate conferees: Stevens (R-AL), Campbell (R-CO), DeWine (R-OH), Shelby (R-AL), Byrd (D-WV), Dorgan (D-ND), Mikulski (D-MD), Landrieu (D-LA), Reed (D-RI).
FOR MORE INFORMATION: and to learn how your Representative voted on the July votes, call 202-541-3184 or write: email@example.com