Cicilline veers right on Cuba

Colleague David S. Bernstein has a report on the Aug. 1 vote on an amendment to restore Bush-era restrictions on travel to Cuba -- which was supportted by Congressman David Cicilline:

And here's an excerpt from a Phoenix editorial on the subject:


Since the ascension of Fidel Castro’s brother Raul as Cuba’s singular leader, economic reform has been steadily taking place in Cuba: it is now possible to have cell phones, and legal self-employment is slowly becoming more widespread. There is talk of loosening emigration and making buying a car easier. But hands down, the possibility of Cuban families being able to own their own homes is, well, the most revolutionary.

But if two freshman congressmen from New England have their way, it will once again become extremely restrictive for Cuban-Americans to visit their loved ones, even at times of illness and death, and the amount of remittances they are now allowed to send to their families on the island — the major source of income for large numbers of Cubans — will be severely reduced.

Democrats David Cicilline of Rhode Island and William Keating of Massachusetts voted in committee to reverse President Obama’s move to ease relations with Cuba by, among other things, ending the draconian travel ban and remittance reductions heartlessly put into place by George W. Bush.

In this, Cicilline and Keating were bizarrely following the lead of Cuban-American congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

As Phoenix political writer David Bernstein points out in his story, Ros-Lehtinen and her fellow Republican Cuban-American from Florida, David Rivera, not only want to block family travel and curtail remittances, but to prevent educational and cultural exchanges.

Why Keating and Cicilline have allied themselves with pillars of the old-guard right-wing Floridian Republican establishment, who cling to out-of-date ideas about the best way to bring about change in Cuba by maintaining our country’s punishing embargo, is not only a shameful mystery, but clearly antithetical to Democratic ideals.

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