Cuba-protests.jpeg

United States-Cuba Relations Normalization Act

0

In May of 2021, Bobby Rush (D-IL-1), a longtime advocate for ending the blockade and restoring relations between the U.S. and Cuba, introduced H.R. 3625 to Congress. This year’s version of a near-annual bill that Rush proposes to Congress, again makes it's goal to repeal the major laws that make up the blockade. Bobby Rush has been involved in Cuba advocacy since the late 90s when he co-sponsored H.R. 367 in 1996 to call for an end of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (also known as the Torricelli Act). Since then, he has co-sponsored numerous bills to promote the restoring of relations, protection of remittances, allowing for the export of food and medicine to Cuba following the Torricelli Act, allowing for business negotiations relating to energy resources and technologies, and more. Additionally, in 2009 he traveled to Cuba with the Congressional Black Caucus to examine possibilities for a new trade relationship between the two countries, foreshadowing the restoring of relations that would happen during Barack Obama’s second term. 

 

This year’s bill comes during a time in which U.S. aggression has been severely heightened with the Biden administration refusing to roll back the 243 sanctions that came under Trump. These include a ban on remittances, major restrictions on where U.S citizens can stay and do business in Cuba, the annulation of flights to provinces other than Havana, and bans on the purchase and import of cigars and rum by US citizens, among others. This, at a time in which the world has struggled through a global pandemic that has been exacerbated by vaccine and medical apartheid on a global scale. Even given the deep economic crisis that Cuba encountered they still sent 57 medical brigades to 40 countries  to serve in some of the hardest-hit areas in the world. Additionally, Cuba has also shown it’s deep dedication to health and safety for all by developing home-grown vaccines that by the end of 2021 will have been used to vaccinate nearly the entire population of the island and beyond, given it’s agreements to share the vaccine with other countries.

However, we at the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective believe that H.R. 3625 provides us with the best opportunity for unilaterally ending the blockade. Some of the proposed actions within the bill include:

The History

Act Now

Key Provisions

The legislation includes the following provisions:

 

  • Repealing the Trading With the Enemy Act which would allow business across sectors to trade and do business with Cuba, an action which would severely aid both economies given the achievements that Cuba has made in fields such as medicine.

  • Repealing of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (Also known as the Torricelli Act) which would allow for Cuba to buy medicine and food from the U.S. At the time of the bill being introduced, Senator Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ-?) was quoted as saying “my mission is to wreak havoc on that island.” This law was introduced following the fall of the socialist camp to deliberately worsen the crises of food and medicine shortages that Cuba faced.

  • Repeal of The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Also known as the Helms-Burton Law) which would seriously curtail the extrajudicial power that the U.S. exerts over Cuba through the blockade. In recent years, the Helms-Burton law has prevented Cuba from securing international negotiations for medical supplies such as those necessary to make basic daily medications and those used in the fight for COVID-19 such as ventilators. This is because the Helms-Burton Law makes it illegal for subsidiaries of U.S. companies to do business with Cuba and for Cuba to buy raw material that has more than 10% of its source in the United States.

  • Changing the language in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to call for the closing of Guantanamo Bay and all military and intelligence facilities. Since 2001, the U.S. has maintained a prison and torture camp at their occupied land at Guantanamo Bay where they have committed atrocious crimes against humanity and extrajudicial holding of innocent prisoners.

  • Allow for telecommunications companies to maintain and repair telecommunications services between the US and Cuba - The US has blocked Cubans from accessing many of the telecommunications resources and websites that originate in the U.S. prohibiting Cubans from using many tools that would be beneficial across various sectors. Additionally, the U.S. has not allowed Cuba to connect to the fiberoptic cable that Even in the face of this, Cuba maintains the second highest inter

  • Prohibit the regulation of travel, and transaction made during travel within legal constraint, between the US and Cuba for US citizens and residents. Transactions that could not be prohibited include foreign currency drafts, traveler’s checks, and more.

  • The United States should take steps to conduct negotiations with the Cuban government for settling claims of nationals of the US against the Cuban government for the taking of property

  • Normalize trade relations with Cuba to promote democratic change and economic reform

  • Repealing any limitations on number of annual remittances or yearly amount on any person who is subject to the jurisdiction of the US

Co-Sponsors in the House

Keep in Mind

What things would we want to change about the Rush Bill?

  • Part about democratic change and “becoming competitive in the global market”

  • Part about “assisting Cuba in developing its economy based on free market principles”

  • Achieving “democratic rule” in Cuba

  • Doesn’t call for reparations 

Resources

See letter to President Joe Biden here:

https://acere.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Letter-to-Pres-Biden-from-Reps-Rush-Cohen-Lee-Moore-et-al-RE-Cuba-Policy.pdf

 

Article by Bobby Rush:  https://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/25627-my-hopes-and-dreams-for-the-people-of-cuba-rep-bobby-rush?rl=1

 

Full text of the legislation is available in English: here

 

Para ver el texto completo del proyecto de ley: aqui