Twenty-five of the twenty-six Democrats who declared their candidacy for the presidential primary nomination have made statements in support of lifting U.S. trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.
As many of the candidates prepare to take the debate stage again tonight and tomorrow in Michigan, we've highlighted a few recent developments in U.S.-Cuba relations that underscore why it matters that nearly every single candidate is united on this issue.
Cuban Immigration Crisis. The Trump administration's elimination of consular services in Cuba has created a crisis for Cuban families and political asylees. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have called on the Trump administration to take action to process these humanitarian and family visas. The immigration crisis is creating political tension among Cuban-Americans, even those who have supported President Trump.
Hurting the Cuban People. The Trump administration's latest restrictionson American travel to Cuba are absolutely devastating for Cuba's nascent independent private sector. Cuban entrepreneurs have seen a more than 40% decline in bookings due to decreased U.S. travel under President Trump. A recent op-ed in the New York Times highlights how it is ordinary Cubans who bear the brunt of the latest sanctions, not the Cuban government.
Bipartisan Coalition Introduces Bill to Lift Cuba Travel Ban. This week, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) led a bipartisan coalition of 46 Senators, along with a bipartisan group of House members, to introduce legislation to fully lift all restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba. While U.S. travelers are free to travel to countries such as Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia, Cuba is the only country in the world where Americans are statutorily barred by Congress from traveling freely.
The U.S. policy of isolating Cuba for more than half a century has failed. Private enterprise, internet access, and space for civil society in Cuba grew more during the two years of a policy of engagement under the Obama administration than the 50 years of isolation that preceded it. Engagement provided hope for the Cuban people who benefitted immensely from the millions of Americans who visited, as well as hope for American companies and farmers eager to tap into a new market 90 miles off our shores.