The Collide on Cuba
Posted: Monday, October 27, 2003
By Michael Moretti
The House of Representatives and the Senate are seeking to
make travel to Cuba easier despite strong opposition from
the White House.
Last week, the Senate voted 59 to 36 to ease the
long-standing travel restrictions on Americans as part of a
$90 billion spending bill for the Treasury and
Transportation departments. This follows the House approval
of essentially identical legislation last month.
Both decisions fly in the face of President Bush's pledge
to intensify restrictions on Cuba in an effort to root out
illegal tourism and increase pressure on Cuba President
Fidel Castro. The White House has threatened to veto the
entire bill unless the travel component is omitted.
One of the amendment's co-sponsors, Sen. Michael B. Enzi
(R-Wyoming), is quoted in a New York Times article as
saying, "Unilateral sanctions stop not just the flow of
goods, but the flow of ideas
Ideas of freedom and
democracy are the keys to positive change."
Opponents of the restrictions, many of whom represent
states that want to sell agricultural and other products to
Cuba, said the constraints hurt the United States more than
Cuba and help Castro by enabling him to blame the United
States for his country's problems, according to an article
in The Washington Post.
Bush states that American dollars going to Cuba would serve
only to bolster Castro's government, which suppresses its
people. Bush stated in a New York Times article that,
American tourist dollars go to the Cuban government, which
"pays the workers a pittance in worthless pesos and keeps
the hard currency to prop up the dictator and his cronies."
According to the figures from the U.S. Treasury department,
an estimated 160,000 Americans make the trip to the Cuba
each year, half being Cuban-Americans returning to visit
The House and Senate still need to work out differing
details of the spending bill before it goes to the White