U.S. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) today condemned efforts by the Obama Administration to ease travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. In news reports, an unnamed U.S. official indicated the Administration was looking to expand so-called "cultural exchange" visits, even though Congress has refused to act on a measure related to the travel ban.
Senator LeMieux said:
"This would do nothing more than funnel tourist dollars to a dictatorship. Every tourist dollar we send to Cuba helps prop up a brutal regime that ignores human rights and civil liberties, imprisons innocent Cubans, and oppresses generations of Cuban families.
"Nothing the Administration has tried so far has eased the lives of Cubans or moved them closer to freedom. Circumventing Congress is not the answer, instead we should stand with our allies in the hemisphere and demand freedom for Cuba.
"Instead of coddling a dictatorship, we should be approving free trade agreements with our allies. We have three agreements, already negotiated, that will improve trade between the U.S. and Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. These agreements will create jobs here in our country and demonstrate our commitment to strengthening our democratic ties."
BACKGROUND: Senator LeMieux just returned from Colombia where he was part of the official delegation attending the inauguration of Colombia's new president, Juan Manuel Santos. There, the senator met with four heads of state from Latin American countries to discuss U.S. policy toward the regime and the importance of strengthening democracies.