On the Record: Senator Hagel on Cuba Policy

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
In the Congressional Record from former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb.) confirmation hearing for U.S. Secretary of Defense:

Question from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.):

Senator Hagel, in 2002 you referred to Fidel Castro as a “toothless old dinosaur” and praised former President Jimmy Carter’s recommended policy of relaxed sanctions and diplomatic engagement as “exactly right.”  In 2008, you were a signatory to a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the U.S. relax sanctions and engage Cuba due to Castro’s “imminent departure.”  As of February 1, 2013, the Castros have not departed Cuba or shown any indication that additional concessions from the United States would modify their repressive regime.  An American contractor, Alan Gross, languishes in a Cuban prison.  Do you still believe Mr. Carter’s recommended policy towards Cuba is “exactly right?”  Would relaxing sanctions and engaging with the Castros be the hallmarks of your policy towards Cuba should you be confirmed?

Answer from U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.):

I support President Obama's Cuba policy which is focused on supporting the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their future, reducing their dependence on the Cuban state, and pursuing the widely shared goal of a Cuba that respects the universal human rights of all its citizens.  The President’s actions to facilitate family travel, people to people travel, the flow of remittances into private hands, and information to, from, and within Cuba have contributed to this objective.  I share the President’s view that the Cuban government must change its outdated political model to reflect the commitments undertaken by other governments in the Hemisphere to promote and defend representative democracy.  Policy matters and other diplomatic issues involving Cuba are led by the State Department.