Washington, DC -- On the eve of President Trump's reported rollback of Cuba policy, a coalition of conservative advocacy organizations, led by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, sent the President an open letter urging against a potential reversal of current policies that expanded travel to and trade with Cuba. The organizations, which include Americans for Tax Reform, Property Rights Alliance, Free the People, and Freedom Works, wrote that travel to and trade with Cuba boosts American businesses and spreads free market ideals to the island. The groups also endorse legislation that would remove certain restrictions on Cuba.
"It's exceedingly clear that even President Trump's own political base would not support a rollback of current policy toward Cuba," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. "A decision to add job-killing regulations that make it harder to trade with and travel to Cuba would unnecessarily burden the U.S. business community and limit American freedom. Worse, it would betray hardworking Cuban entrepreneurs who have benefited from current Cuba policies."
"Every American has the fundamental right to trade, buy, sell, and earn a living. It is as fundamental as First or Second amendment rights," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.
In the letter, the organizations recommend not only that President Trump maintain existing policy toward Cuba, but that Congress lift the embargo altogether:
"Scaling back the decades-long embargo with Cuba would be a needed boost to the American economy with a nation that had historically strong ties with the United States. Estimates predict that the agricultural sector alone could see $365 million in additional sales to Cuba and support 6,000 American jobs. More importantly, by increasing trade with the United States, more and more Cubans and Cuban government officials will encounter the infectious spirit of the free market."
"National security would greatly benefit from trade and travel relations with Cuba that will improve stability in the region," the conservative groups wrote. "Conversely, reversing the recent improvements in America-Cuba trade and travel would put thousands of U.S. jobs at risk."
The conservative groups include: Americans for Tax Reform, Campaign for Liberty, Center for Individual Freedom, Digital Liberty, Free the People, FreedomWorks, Property Rights Alliance,Taxpayers Protection Alliance, andTech Freedom.
The full text of the letter is available below:
June 14, 2017
Open Letter to President Donald J. Trump:
Support Legislation to Ease the Sanctions Against Cuba
CC: Congressional Leadership
Dear President Trump,
We, the undersigned free market organizations representing millions of Americans, write in strong support of easing trade restrictions with the Republic of Cuba. Representatives Crawford, Sanford, McGovern, Emmer, and Castor have all introduced legislation that would gradually remove trade barriers between the U.S. and Cuba and have significant economic benefits for America in the long-run, while opening a new pathway to effecting change in Cuba. The proposals solidify a growing agricultural trade relationship, increase the freedom of Americans to travel to Cuba, and remove the remaining constraints on private-sector industries doing business in Cuba.
H.R. 525, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, would remove the remaining restrictions on farm exports by allowing Cuba to access credit when purchasing agricultural products from America. H.R. 351, The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, restores the ability of Americans to travel to the only nation they are currently prohibited from visiting. H.R. 442, The Cuba Trade Act, lifts the rest of the embargo.
The United States prospers by engaging with the world. Access to foreign markets unleashes domestic productivity and gives workers a greater range of employment opportunities. Likewise, Americans should be allowed to travel to other nations and serve as diplomats who can spread our soft power abroad.
Scaling back the decades-long embargo with Cuba would be a needed boost to the American economy with a nation that had historically strong ties with the United States. Estimates predict that the agricultural sector alone could see $365 million
in additional sales to Cuba and support 6,000 American jobs. More importantly, by increasing trade with the United States, more and more Cubans and Cuban government officials will encounter the infectious spirit of the free market.
Establishing free trade with Cuba is not an endorsement of a communist dictatorship. Rather, restrictions on trade violate the rights of American citizens without any policy benefit.
Crucially, H.R. 442 enforces a
Prohibition On Foreign Assistance And Financing Of Trade With Cuba.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the United States Government may not provide any foreign assistance to Cuba or any financial assistance, loans, loan guarantees, extension of credit, or other financing for exports to Cuba.
Violation of political rights by the Cuban government deserve strong condemnation. But today there is a glimmer of hope and an openness to new ideas. The Cuban government has taken some steps towards supporting local entrepreneurship and attracting more U.S foreign direct investment. Today, the sanctions are a hindrance to the opening of Cuba. Instead of spurring change, the sanctions now provide the regime with an easy scapegoat for their own failed policies, obscuring the real source of hardship by placing blame on the United States. Gradually ending the embargo can help to dispel the fiction that America is responsible for the Cubans’ plight.
Engagement with other communist regimes has proven that American influence grows as trade develops. Countries like Vietnam, Burma, Laos and most famously China prove that previously hostile countries can move in a better direction when encouraged to trade with free nations. National security would greatly benefit from trade and travel relations with Cuba that will improve stability in the region.
Conversely, reversing the recent improvements in America-Cuba trade and travel would put thousands of U.S. jobs at risk. Your successful presidential campaign was correct in stressing the need to boost the job market; putting up more trade barriers runs counter to that goal. Congress must act to continue economic gains.
We urge you and every member of Congress to support proposals to increase travel, ease of business, and economic ties with Cuba.
Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform
President, Campaign for Liberty
President, Center for Individual Freedom
Executive Director, Digital Liberty
President, Free the People
Director of Public Policy and Legislative Affairs, FreedomWorks
Executive Director, Property Rights Alliance
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Executive Director, Tech Freedom