House GOP Targets Financial Ties With Cuban Military

Thursday, June 9, 2016
This morning, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan (R-WI), released the House GOP's agenda on foreign policy and national security, as part of his "Better Way" blueprint for 2016.

Below are some key Cuba-related excerpts:

In recent years, American foreign policy has often focused on appeasing rather than opposing our adversaries on vital issues of national security. Interpreting U.S. attempts at rapprochement as weakness, countries like Russia and Iran have expanded their influence at the expense of America and our allies. As a result, other countries are beginning to ignore our demands, warnings, and red lines, damaging America’s influence and credibility. The United States must begin decisively confronting adversarial powers and rogue regimes when they threaten our interests. We must also restore the confidence of our allies, who often feel ignored and even abandoned by Washington.

The Obama administration took office with the misguided goal of conducting closer engagement with America’s adversaries. They extended an open hand to governments in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela, and made damaging concessions often from a position of weakness. In the process, they have emboldened those regimes, alienated our allies, and left America in a more vulnerable strategic position. Now we must take immediate action to repair alliances and partnerships around the globe and to be clear about how the United States treats friends and foes. [...]

[I]n our own backyard we will continue to work with our friends and stem the influence of foes. Our relations with Canada and Mexico are crucial, especially in managing trans-border trade and countering trans-border threats. But we cannot blindly follow the administration’s normalization plan with communist Cuba, a regime that is fundamentally opposed to U.S. policy and that represses an entire population only 90 miles from our coastline. Instead, we will work to restore U.S. leverage, hold the Castro regime accountable, and make sure any further accommodations are met first with real concessions from the Cuban government. A first step should be to ban financial transactions with the Cuban military. [...]

Our leverage to promote democracy and human rights should never be squandered. The Obama administration sought to normalize relations with the Castro regime in exchange for the promise of democratic and human rights progress in Cuba. One year into the agreement, which included reopening the American embassy in Havana, the Castro regime is as repressive as ever. In the first two months of 2016 alone, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights registered 2,588 political arrests. Nevertheless, President Obama reneged on his vow to refuse to travel to Cuba until human rights had improved.

The voice of the President is a powerful tool. History will forever remember President Reagan’s resounding demand, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”—two years before it fell. East Germans, Poles, and Russians rejected Communism for many reasons, but Reagan’s clarion call inspired millions behind the Iron Curtain. By contrast, in both word and deed, President Obama has wavered in opposing repression worldwide. In his determination to reach rapprochements with oppressive regimes, the president has given short shrift to the strivings of Iranians, Cubans, and other peoples living under the boot of his new negotiating partners.