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Various Reactions to President Obama’s Decision to Allow Unlimited Family Travel and Remittances to Cuba

For Immediate Release

April 13, 2009

Contact: Nicole Y. Williams

(202) 225-2661


Barbara Lee Applauds President Obama’s Decision to Allow Unlimited Family Travel and Remittances to Cuba


Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) applauded the President’s decision to end restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban Americans’ with family still in Cuba. She released this statement:


President Obama’s decision today to end the unfair travel and remittance restrictions on Cuban –Americans will allow them to provide basic humanitarian assistance to their families and help them remain connected to their relatives.


The 50 year embargo simply has not worked. Normalizing diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba just makes good sense and having recently returned from leading a Congressional Delegation to Cuba, I believe now is the time for us to reach out to Cuba to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.


President Obama’s decision is a step in the right direction and I look forward to working with the Administration as we work to create an open dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba and restore normalized diplomatic relations with our nearest Caribbean neighbor.


 Congresswoman Barbara Lee has long supported an end to the travel ban and has introduced legislation (H.R. 332) that would remove travel restrictions for students traveling to Cuba.





Congresswoman Castor's Statement On Obama's Cuba Announcement

Tampa, Apr 13 -

Florida Congresswoman Kathy Castor applauded President Barack Obama today for the decisive and necessary actions he took to lift travel restrictions to Cuba so families can more easily visit their loved ones and send money to their relatives.

“President Obama’s decision to stand up for families offers our neighbors the flexibility they need and humanity they deserve,” Castor said. “Many families I know need to travel to visit a sick or dying relative. This is about easing the personal struggles of families.”

Castor has been a strong supporter of easing travel restrictions for families and has assisted many families through her congressional office. In December Castor wrote to then-President Elect Obama about travel to Cuba, calling for him to lift the restrictions that limit family travel to the island nation. She also called upon Obama to lift the restrictions that limit the amount of remittance families may send to relatives in Cuba. A federal executive order implemented by President Bush limited travel to Cuba to once every three years and limited remittances to family members to $300 annually. Obama today has directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Commerce to lift all restrictions on family travel and remittances.

“The restrictions have proven ineffective in altering the political situation and interfere with fundamental family relations and human rights,” Castor wrote. “I respectfully urge you to breathe fresh air into our relationships with our neighbors in Latin America and the Caribbean and to modernize policies relating to Cuba.”

Castor referenced the devastating effects of the restrictions last summer when Hurricane Gustav wreaked havoc on Cuba and Cuban-Americans were unable to provide direct humanitarian assistance.

“Now, Cuban Americans will be able to more directly and effectively help their loved ones in Cuba,” Castor said. “These changes are well overdue and I am pleased President Obama is rejecting the former Bush Administration’s hard line and taking steps in the right direction to help our Cuban-American families.”

Castor also is in discussions with the Obama Administration regarding the addition of Tampa International Airport as a port of entry/exit for charter flights to Cuba. Castor notes the high concentration of Cuban Americans in the Tampa-St.Petersburg-Clearwater area but the lack of Cuba charter flights.

“The addition of Tampa International Airport as a departure point for charter flights to Cuba is needed now with the new travel policy and would be one less burden these families have to face,” Castor said.


DeLauro Welcomes Obama Administration’s Lifting of Cuban-American Travel Restrictions

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (Conn. -3) issued the following statement following President Obama’s announcement that his Administration will lift all restrictions on travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans to family in Cuba, as well as ease other restrictions on the island nation. The policy shift marks the first time since 1982 that Cuban-Americans will be free to travel without restrictions between the United States and Cuba. Under the Bush Administration, since 2004, only immediate family members were allowed to visit their relatives in Cuba once every three years.

“I strongly support President Obama’s decision to allow unrestricted travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans to their relatives in Cuba. After years of a misguided tightening of restrictions under the Bush Administration, these changes will improve our ability to help the Cuban people bring democracy to their nation. Moreover, coming on the eve of the Summit of Americas, the announcement is a clear indication to Cuba and all of the nations of the Western Hemisphere that the United States is serious about not only changing a decades-old policy toward Cuba that has clearly failed, but also about seeking greater engagement with the world in an effort to find common ground to address the challenges we face together.”

“While this is an important step, I believe it should only represent the beginning of a larger effort to chart a new course in our relationship with Cuba. I have long fought and will continue to advocate for the lifting of restrictions on U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba imposed by the Bush Administration. In addition, I will continue to work to pass the bipartisan and broadly supported Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act -- legislation that would end the current ban on travel by Americans to Cuba. Such steps would allow Americans to bring an idea of freedom to Cuba that is very hard to ignore while opening up a powerful source of economic growth for the people of both the United States and Cuba.”

Representative DeLauro is an original co-sponsor of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 874), which now has over 120 Bipartisan co-sponsors. The legislation would end the current ban on travel by Americans to Cuba. At present the US government allows Americans to travel almost anywhere in the world, except Cuba.




Nicole Y. Williams

Communications Director

The Honorable Barbara Lee (CA-9)

2444 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

(202) 226-0323 (Direct)

(202) 579-1925 (Cell)

(202) 225-9817 (Fax)



Obama Commits Serious Mistake Regarding Cuban Dictatorship

April 13, 2009

MIAMI- U.S. Congressmen Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) issued the following joint statement today describing as a “serious mistake” President Obama’s decision to unilaterally increase travel and remittance dollars for the Cuban dictatorship. 

“President Obama has committed a serious mistake by unilaterally increasing Cuban-American travel and remittance dollars for the Cuban dictatorship.  During his inaugural address on January 20, President Obama stated, ‘to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.’

“Despite the Cuban dictatorship increasing its repression of pro-democracy activists, torturing countless prisoners of conscience, and refusing to allow human rights activists and observers into the country, President Obama has violated his pledge of January 20 by unilaterally granting a concession to the dictatorship which will provide it with hundreds of millions of dollars annually.  Unilateral concessions to the dictatorship embolden it to further isolate, imprison and brutalize pro-democracy activists, to continue to dictate which Cubans and Cuban-Americans are able to enter the island, and this unilateral concession provides the dictatorship with critical financial support. 

“We call upon President Obama to not grant any further unilateral concessions to the Cuban dictatorship and to insist upon the three fundamental goals for Cuba enshrined in U.S. law which have long constituted a bipartisan U.S. Policy of State: The liberation of all political prisoners, the legalization of all political parties, independent labor unions and the press, and the scheduling of free, internationally supervised elections,” said the Diaz-Balarts.

Obama Comete Grave Error Respecto a la Tiranía Cubana

MIAMI- Los Congresistas Lincoln Díaz-Balart (R-FL) y Mario Díaz-Balart (R-FL) hoy hicieron pública la siguiente declaración conjunta describiendo como un “grave error” la decisión del Presidente Obama de unilateralmente aumentar los dólares que la tiranía cubana recibirá por viajes y remesas. 
“El Presidente Obama ha cometido un grave error al unilateralmente aumentar los dólares que recibirá la tiranía cubana debido a viajes y remesas de cubano-americanos. Durante su discurso de toma de posesión el 20 de enero, el Presidente Obama declaró, ‘a aquellos que permanecen en el poder a través de la corrupción y la mentira, y silenciando a la disidencia, sepan que están del lado equivocado de la historia; pero que estamos dispuestos a extender una mano si ustedes están dispuestos a abrir el puño’.

“A pesar de la creciente represión perpetrada contra opositores internos por la tiranía cubana, de la tortura de innumerables presos de conciencia, y de prohibirle la entrada a Cuba a activistas y observadores de derechos humanos, el Presidente Obama ha violado su promesa del 20 de enero al unilateralmente hacerle una concesión a la tiranía que le proveerá cientos de millones de dólares anualmente. Concesiones unilaterales a la tiranía la envalentonan para continuar aislando, encarcelando y brutalizando a los activistas en favor de la democracia, a continuar dictando qué cubanos y cubano-americanos pueden entrar en la isla, y esta concesión unilateral le provee apoyo económico crítico a la tiranía. 

“Le pedimos al Presidente Obama que no le haga ninguna otra concesión unilateral a la tiranía cubana y que insista en las tres metas solidarias para Cuba que están en la ley de Estados Unidos y que por largo tiempo han constituido una Política de Estado bipartidista de Estados Unidos: La liberación de todos los presos políticos, la legalización de todos los partidos políticos, los sindicatos obreros independientes y la prensa, y la convocatoria de elecciones libres con supervisión internacional,” dijeron los Diaz-Balarts.



Pelosi Statement on Obama Administration’s Easing of Cuba Travel, Remittance Restrictions

Washington, D.C.  – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today regarding the Obama Administration’s announcement that it will ease Cuba travel and remittance restrictions:

“President Obama’s decision to end family travel and remittance restrictions for Cuban Americans will reunite long-separated families and allow them to provide basic humanitarian assistance to their loved ones.

“The Cuban people deserve free and fair elections, and basic human rights.  I believe this can be achieved without dividing families and denying many Cuban Americans a final chance to see their loved ones before they pass on, which is why I support the President’s decision today.”




For Immediate Release:
April 13, 2009
Contact: Trevor Kincaid
(202) 226-6898

Schakowsky Statement on Cuba Policy Change

Schakowsky Views Removal of Restrictions as "Modest but Important First Step"
CHICAGO, IL (April 13, 2009) – Following the Obama Administration’s announcement today to remove all restrictions on family travel and remittances to Cuba from the United States and to authorize telecommunications systems and contracts to be developed between the two nations, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL, released the following statement in support of the White House’s new policy.
“We’ve learned that good fences do not make good neighbors and I am pleased President Obama has taken modest, but important, first steps in normalizing US-Cuba relations. Cuban-Americans are now relieved of the hardship of limited communication with family and friends only 90 miles away. While there is still much to be done to improve the diplomatic and cultural exchange between our two nations, this policy change gives me hope that Cubans and Americans are on the path to overdue reconciliation.”

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