Washington DC – USA*Engage endorsed bicameral, bipartisan legislation eliminating the strict travel ban the U.S. currently imposes on American citizens seeking to travel to Cuba. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2005, S. 894, introduced by Senators Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Max Baucus (D-MT), and H.R. 1814, the Export Freedom to Cuba Act of 2005, introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and 43 cosponsors including, William Delahunt (D-MA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) and James McGovern (D-MA), contain identical language repealing the travel ban and have garnered broad bipartisan support.
“USA*Engage strongly supports both the Senate and House bills and commends the Senate and House Cuba Working Groups for their leadership on this issue. Without question the greatest way to bring about political change in Cuba is through increased economic engagement and person-to-person contact. Repealing the travel ban will accomplish both of these goals and help to reverse our failed Cuba policy that has actually strengthened the Castro regime, producing little or no positive change in 40 years,” said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA*Engage.
USA*Engage has long advocated the position that restricting travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba prevents the open exchange of American values and ideals, restricts the freedom of American citizens, hurts families on both sides of the Florida Straits, and impedes the prospects for better U.S.-Cuban relations in years to come. Most importantly, the travel ban increases the isolation of the Cuban people, which in turn, has helped the Castro regime maintain its 40-year grip on power.
The Senate bill was introduced with 17 bipartisan co-sponsors and the House bill was introduced today with 43 bipartisan co-sponsors. The Senate and House Bipartisan Cuba Working Groups, organizations formed to review current United States policy towards Cuba, support both bills.
“The strong bipartisan support for this legislation and repeated votes in Congress to repeal the travel ban indicates that there is overwhelming momentum to allow Americans to travel to Cuba,” added Reinsch, “Increasing contact between Americans and the Cuban people does not reward Castro, it punishes him by building pressures that will ultimately lead to a free government and people in Cuba.”
USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at www.usaengage.org.
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves 350 member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.