Engage Cuba Statement on New Cuba Sanctions

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, President of Engage Cuba, James Williams, released the following statement on the Trump Administration's new Cuba sanctions. The regulations were released by Administration officials during a Presidential trip to China. 

The announcement follows President Trump's June 16th National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM). 

"These new regulations create a more convoluted, confusing and counterproductive approach to Cuba policy. This 'Keystone Cops' Cuba policy hurts those it claims to help and helps those it claims to hurt. 

"The Trump Administration has yet again shown their hypocritical approach to human rights. The great irony of releasing these regulations while President Trump stands in Communist China is dumbfounding, but not surprising. It is deeply unfortunate that this policy was guided by politics and the personal agenda of two Members of Congress, not a genuine concern for the Cuban people who overwhelmingly support engagement with the United States.

"It seems we have fumbled our Cuba policy right into the hands of Vladimir Putin. While the Cuban people and U.S. businesses lose out, reverting back to our policy of isolation is a gift to the Kremlin. Russia is quickly expanding its foothold in Cuba, looking to regain its once diminished sphere of influence in our backyard. Abandoning Cuba and allowing Russia to fill a leadership vacuum is undoubtedly a threat to our national security.

"These new regulations are a kick in the gut to Cuban entrepreneurs who are struggling to support their families. Americans are significantly contributing to the growth of Cuba’s private sector. Today's announcement will only make it harder for Americans to travel to Cuba and support the growing private sector.

"Anyone with knowledge of how the Cuban economy works knows that these additional regulations on U.S. companies will simply make it harder to do business in Cuba. Given the intertwinement of Cuba’s economy, these new restrictions on U.S. businesses could hinder that progress which could cost the U.S. economy billions and affect thousands of jobs." 

Over the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Americans have traveled to Cuba, stayed in private homes, eaten at privately owned restaurants, taken private taxi cabs and engaged with the Cuban people. Americans are significantly contributing to the growth of Cuba’s private sector. 

Over 100 Cuban private business owners sent a letter to then-President-elect Trump urging him to continue to build and not rollback engagement. 

Over 100 U.S. agriculture groups urged then President-elect Trump to continue to strengthen the U.S.-Cuba trade relationship. This letter highlights the broad and bipartisan support with U.S. agribusiness for expanding trade with Cuba.    

Over a dozen retired U.S. military flag officers urged U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster to continue to normalize relations with Cuba in order to strengthen U.S. national security interests and regional stability in the Western Hemisphere. In a letter sent in April, the retired military officers urged the White House to prioritize U.S. national security as part of the Trump Administration's U.S-Cuba policy review. Two of the officers also published an op-ed in POLITICO on the subject. More information on the national security implications of our U.S.-Cuba policy is available here.