On Monday, during his State Department press conference, Castro's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, insisted: "the President of the United States can continue using his executive powers to pay a significant contribution to the dismantling of the blockade."
After all, who knows more about the rule of law than a totalitarian dictatorship?
Yet, only two days later, at a White House pow-wow of Obama's allies, it was reported that the Administration was considering some new regulations, including licensing individuals for people-to-people trips.
Of course, that would be beyond the scope of what is permitted -- or has ever been permitted -- by law and, therefore, considered illegal tourism.
The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (§910(b) of P.L. 106-387, Title IX) codified the ban on tourist activities, which are defined as any activity not expressly authorized in the 12 categories of travel set forth in the regulations. It further specified, "as such regulations were in effect on June 1, 2000."
Licensing individuals for people-to-people trips, not only falls outside the common-sense threshold of what are tourist activities, but of the legal threshold that was clearly set forth by Congress.
And, it's precisely in Congress where this debate belongs.
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee included a provision the Financial Services Appropriations bill that would eliminate enforcement of this tourism prohibition for a year.
Meanwhile, the House version of the same Financial Services Appropriations -- also cleared through Committee (though with less media enthusiasm) -- would eliminate "people-to-people" group tours altogether; prohibit any transaction with entities owned or operated by the Cuban military (MINFAR) and security services (MININT); and prohibit the importation of stolen property by travelers, namely confiscated rum and cigar products.
Additionally, in the Transportation Appropriations bill, the House already voted by a 247-176 margin (including over 25 Democrats) to tighten travel sanctions towards Cuba.
And so much more. (Click here for details.)
But that's how the rule of law works.
It would be ironic (at best) for Obama to purport promoting the establishment of the rule of law in Cuba, by violating it himself.
Moreover, at the request of a totalitarian dictator.
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