WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Friday in reaction to President Trump’s reversal of U.S. policy toward Cuba:
“As President Trump is abandoning American values around the globe, it is far from credible for the Administration to suggest its policy towards Cuba is driven by human rights concerns. Just last month, the President’s budget proposed zeroing out funding for longstanding programs that support human rights and democracy in Cuba – a sign of his true commitment on these issues.
“If the President was serious about advancing U.S. values and security, he would recommit to a comprehensive strategy toward Cuba that prioritizes principled engagement through diplomacy, the private sector, and our citizens. The President should also restore funding for U.S. democracy programs and work to foster a diplomatic coalition that can address Cuba’s human rights record – a task made more difficult by today’s announcement.
“By curtailing the rights of U.S. citizens to travel, President Trump is undercutting Americans’ support for the Cuban people and Cuba’s rising entrepreneurial class. In response, the Senate should advance broadly supported, bipartisan legislation that lifts all restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba so that the dynamism of American society can continue making a positive contribution to empowering Cuba’s citizens.
“As Cubans strive to build a brighter future for their country, U.S. businesses have become important partners in the process and Maryland companies like Marriott are working hard to bring positive change to Cuba. The President’s policy puts this progress at risk.
“Since 2014, important changes have come to Cuba, even while the Cuban government continues to jail political opponents, restrict the emergence of a free press, and limit the political and economic reforms that the country greatly needs. Despite today’s announcement, I remain committed to an open bilateral relationship that advances diplomatic dialogue on U.S. national interests and strengthens respect for democratic values and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.”