Chairman Royce: Obama Gives Cuban Regime New Lease on Life

Thursday, February 5, 2015
Excerpts from the opening remarks of U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, during today's Cuba policy hearing:

[T]alks with the Cuban regime were conducted by two White House officials. Unfortunately the White House was unwilling to provide these key witnesses today. This Committee, charged with oversight of our foreign policy, is handicapped when those officials most involved in policy making are unavailable. The Administration’s growing track record of secret negotiations, whether Iran or the release of the “Taliban Five,” is increasingly troublesome.

Had the White House consulted more widely, it may have heard that Havana is facing the threats of losing Venezuelan oil subsides and mounting public pressure for basic reforms. This could have been used to leverage meaningful political concessions by the regime. But this was a one-sided “negotiation,” with the U.S. making a series of concessions to Havana [...]

In defending this policy change, the President has compared our economic relationship with Cuba to that of China and Vietnam. But in China and Vietnam - while Communist - at least foreign firms can hire and recruit staff directly, without their pay going directly to the government.

Not so in Cuba, which is more like North Korea than China. A Cuban worker at the foreign-owned resort receives only a fraction of their salary – as little as 5 percent. Castro or Kim, the method is the same – extract hard currency from foreign business and invest in the security apparatus.

Instead of dismantling a 50-year-old failed policy, as it claims, the Administration may have given a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life to continue its repression at home and militant support for Marxist regimes abroad.