Cuba Debated in New Mexico

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Transcript from KUNM in New Mexico:
A new administration in the White House could mean a change in U.S.-Cuba relations.

And a $410 billion dollar spending bill designed to keep the federal government afloat through September includes a provision to open up travel to the island, but as KUNM's Mireya Hernandez reports, not everyone is on board.


The bill includes a measure that would allow relatives to visit Cuba once a year, instead of every three years.

And some groups are pushing for even more change to U.S.-Cuba relations, including the New Mexico chapters of the U.S.-Cuba Sister Cities Association and the U.S-Cuba Cultural Exchange.

They're pushing the state's congressional delegation to support several bills that would allow ALL Americans to travel to Cuba.

Arnold Trujillo represents the U.S-Cuba Sister Cities Association in Taos. He says the U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world when it comes to Cuba.

TRUJILLO: "Why does it have to fall on Cuba to make concessions? Why can't the United States make some concessions? We're the ones who have a war against them, an economic war. And it feels like a war, to them it feels like war. They feel like they're under a state of siege, which they are. The United States has tried for 50 years to undermine and topple that government and they've never been able to do it."

But opponents of the measure want Cuba to make the first move.

Mauricio Claver-Carone is a director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee.

He says if the U.S. opens travel to Cuba, it would mean support for an oppressive regime.

CLAVER-CARONE: "The United States is a leader in this hemisphere. To pretty much sit there and turn a blind eye to the horrible abuses taking places just 90 miles from our shores would not only counter U.S. policy, but think of the message it would send to others in the hemisphere such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela that have authoritarian tendencies. If we basically allowed business as usual with Cuba, then what's keeping Chavez from all of a sudden converting Venezuela into a totalitarian state and disregarding even the concept of elections and representative democracy.