Cuban-American Lawmakers Blast Travel Plan

Posted April 13, 2009 at 12:57pm

Two Cuban-American House Republicans blasted President Barack Obama on Monday for his plan to relax some of the travel restrictions on Cuba, charging that the move violates a pledge he made in his inaugural address. Florida Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a joint release that the administration’s decision to lift travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans and make it easier for them to send financial assistance to family members still living on the island was a “serious mistake.— “Despite the Cuban dictatorship increasing its repression of pro-democracy activists, torturing countless prisoners of conscience, and refusing to allow human rights activists and observers into the country, President Obama has violated his pledge of January 20 by unilaterally granting a concession to the dictatorship which will provide it with hundreds of millions of dollars annually,— they said, adding that lifting the restrictions would bring “travel and remittance dollars to the Cuban dictatorship.— The administration’s plan does not lift the current trade embargo, but the two lawmakers indicated that any concession would validate the regime of Fidel and Raúl Castro. “Unilateral concessions to the dictatorship embolden it to further isolate, imprison and brutalize pro-democracy activists, to continue to dictate which Cubans and Cuban-Americans are able to enter the island, and this unilateral concession provides the dictatorship with critical financial support.— An administrative official told the Miami Herald on Monday that Obama believed the moves would help to facilitate “democratic change— in Cuba. The White House is expected to announce its new policy this afternoon.Obama pledged during his presidential campaign to push for a free and just Cuba.