Wasserman-Schultz Slaps Obama's Policy

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
From the Sun-Sentinel:

Wasserman Schultz slaps Obama's Cuba policy

South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, normally a stalwart fan of President Obama, took a slap on Tuesday at his recent decision to make it easier for many Americans to visit Cuba.

Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, was incensed by word that Cuban prosecutors will seek a 20-year prison sentence for Alan Gross, a contractor from Maryland, who was suspected of spying while in Cuba.

His family says that Gross, who has been jailed since December 2009, was distributing communications equipment to Cuba's Jewish community.

"This affront is magnified by the recent announcement by the Obama administration that the United States will be loosening travel restrictions, which will pump much-needed money into the desperate Cuban economy, boosting the Castro regime," Wasserman Schultz said. "The United States reaches out to Cuba with a carrot, and we get back a stick. And a slap in the face."

"We should not be opening up our markets and our travel before the Castro regime brings true reform to the Cuban people."

Administration officials say that Obama loosened the travel rules – for Cuban-Americans and for those with special reasons to go to Cuba – to reach out to the Cuban people, not their government.

The officials say the advantages of establishing stronger ties to Cubans and fostering communications are more important than whatever money from travel revenue and remittances falls into the hands of the government.

Wasserman Schultz, who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, reflects long-standing efforts by South Florida representatives to maintain the rigid embargo of Cuba to try to force reforms.