Engage Cuba Statement on New Additions to State Department's Cuba Restricted List

Today, in a speech at the Freedom Tower in Miami, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced over two dozen new additions to the State Department's "Cuba Restricted List." The list, first published in November of 2017, details the Cuban entities with whom U.S. citizens are barred from engaging in financial transactions. These entities are selected based on the administration's assessment that they "disproportionately benefit" the Cuban military apparatus.

James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, released the following statement on the expansion of the Cuba Restricted List:

"It’s no surprise that four days before a critical election, the Trump administration has chosen political pandering over sound public policy. Further squeezing U.S. private sector activity in Cuba is a gift to our foreign competitors, emboldens the hardliners in the Cuban government, and rewards a dwindling minority of Americans who remain wedded to a failed policy that dates back over 50 years.

Many entrepreneurs in Cuba's private sector depend on their connections to the U.S. to thrive and grow. Expanding this list is another slap in the face to Cuban entrepreneurs, whose restaurants, Airbnbs, and other services have suffered over the past year as American travel and investor confidence have both declined. Cutting off commerce with these entities hurts the Cuban private sector and reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of Cuba's economic system.

Meanwhile, stifling trade with Cuba is affecting thousands of U.S. jobs and costing billions in lost export revenue per year. It is absurd for President Trump to ignore the pleas of U.S. farmers and manufacturers who have been slapped with retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries in the President's trade war.  It's clear he has no genuine interest in opening new markets and giving U.S. businesses a boost.

It's ironic that the administration takes drastic steps under the pretense of 'protecting human rights' in Cuba, but praises Brazil's extremist president-elect Jair Bolsonaro in the same breath. It reveals the disingenuous nature of U.S. human rights policy to the world at a time when the trust of our allies is already weakened. These attempts to choke commercial ties with Cuba only play into the hands of adversaries like the Chinese government and Vladimir Putin, both of which are actively trying to undermine U.S. interests in Latin America."

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters