WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
29 Apr 2010 | News

WOLA Testifies Before Congress on Counterproductive U.S.-Cuba Policy

Today, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Program Director, Geoff Thale testifies before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade as part of a hearing to “consider whether removing restrictions on Cuba travel and trade would advance U.S. economic objectives as well as democracy and human rights in Cuba.”

“Our insistence on maintaining the same failed policy cuts the United States off from trade opportunities, shortchanges national interests, and decreases our ability to do anything meaningful about the human rights situation in Cuba,” says Thale.

Evidence of the growing support for expanding travel and trade with Cuba came earlier this week in the form of a letter signed by 98 agriculture, faith, business, human rights and Cuban-American organizations urging passage of H.R. 4645, a bill that would end restrictions on travel to Cuba and facilitate the sale of U.S goods to Cuba. The letter was sent to Members of the House Agriculture Committee in support of the bill, which was recently introduced by Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.

In his testimony before the Subcommittee, Mr. Thale says sanctions do little to improve the human rights situation on the island, and limit the U.S.’s potential for positive influence in Cuba. “The U.S. embargo is a lesson in how to isolate a nation, but that nation isn’t Cuba; it’s the United States,” says Thale.

Instead, Thale urges Members of Congress to restore American’s right to travel to Cuba and for American business to sell food to the island nation under the same basic rules applied to transactions with all other countries in the world. “We’re denying ourselves the obvious economic benefits of expanding sales and travel to Cuba for the sake of an embargo that’s failed to do anything effective to help the human rights situation,” he said

Click here to read Thale's full testimony.

Kristel Mucino, Communications Coordinator
(202) 797-2171; [email protected]