USA*Engage Calls for End to Cuba Travel Ban

Wednesday, 30 April 2003

"USA*Engage strongly supports Senator Enzi's bill and the work of the Senate Cuba Working Group. Recent events in Cuba make this legislation more important than ever. Restricting travel to Cuba prevents the open exchange of American values and ideals and only increases ordinary Cubans' overpowering isolation," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chairman of USA*Engage.

"No one denies that the Castro regime is deplorable, but for 40 years the United States has clung to a failed policy of isolation, with few results," Reinsch continued. "Each time relations start to improve, it is Castro who rejects any progress. By this time it should be clear to all that the only winner of the embargo has been Castro. It allows him to avoid responsibility for Cuba's failures, blame them on the United States, and solidify control over the Cuban people."

Reinsch noted that the recent crackdown on political dissidents in Cuba is in line with the longstanding pattern of previous Cuban government behavior. "It's time to call Castro's bluff and start removing the crutches he uses to stay in power. Increasing contact between Americans and the Cuban people does not reward Castro, it punishes him by building pressures that will ultimately lead to a free government and people in Cuba," he said.

"The travel ban accomplishes nothing toward bringing freedom to the Cuban people; rather it restricts the freedom of American citizens, hurts families on both sides of the Florida Straits and impedes the prospects for better U.S.-Cuban relations in years to come. It is our sincere hope that the Senate will support this important legislation," Reinsch concluded.

The National Foreign Trade Council is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves 350 member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of over 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at