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Cuba Alert: Urgent Action Needed on So-Called Lifting of the Embargo, 6/28

Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000, Baucus Bill
, 5/25

Update from Nethercutt's Office on status of Food & Medicine, 5/25

Modest victory won, more pressure needed!, 5/25

Critical legislation on Food & Medicine, 5/25/00

Ending the Blockade

End the genocidal blockade! Call your congressperson today and urge passage of an unadulterated version of the Nethercutt legislation ending the Cuba embargo on food & medicine as well as of the Baucus bill to end the blockade.  Call your rep at 202/225-3121 or use the congress email page at http://www.house.gov/writerep, which helps you look up your rep by zip code.

A new bill was brought 5/25 to completely end all provisions of the blockade.

Note: this is not an embargo, but a blockade.  The US exerts many hidden pressures on other countries not to do business in Cuba.  A simple example:  no ship going to Cuba may dock in the US within 180 days of going to Cuba.  This voids much shipping consolidation and increases prices by 30%.  And then there is all the denial of medical technology, supplies, and drugs.  Consider this scenario, which took place a couple of years back in Havana: a Canadian company has its x-ray oncology machines coming off the ship and two oncologists ready to install it, gratis, a donation. The firm is told that they will no longer be able to contract with any US entity if they go through and install. So their oncologists in the hotel in Havana have to turn right around and get back on the plane with the equipment...  As a result, many thousands of death are not prevented.  This is genocide.

The list goes on and on.

CUBA ALERT: URGENT ACTION NEEDED on so-called lifting of the embargo, 6/28

Dear U.S./Cuba policy advocates:

URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON CUBA:

For several weeks we have been waiting for Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) and the Republican leadership of the House to complete negotiations over Rep. Nethercutt's amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill. This amendment would ease unilateral sanctions on the sale of food and medicine, including to Cuba. In the early hours of the morning yesterday, Tuesday, June 27, an agreement was struck. Undoubtedly you have seen news stories about this deal.  Many press accounts have been reporting a significant lifting of the blockade on food and medicine to Cuba. We urge you not to celebrate prematurely; there are several significant problems with the new language.

We, and you, have been strong supporters of efforts to ease sanctions on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba. Progress has been made in gathering new support for this effort, and new allies have been found. We don't want to lose these gains. Rep. Nethercutt fought valiantly to get as much as he thought he could get in the compromise language. We do think, however, that the agreement reached with House Republican leadership is problematic in several areas:

• It prohibits private U.S. financial institutions from making loans, credits, and guarantees for food sales to Cuba. This means that sales of food to Cuba will be on a "cash-on-delivery" basis, thus  likely severely limiting actual sales, as Cuba is not a cash-rich country. U.S. agribusiness may be able to arrange sales through third-country financing (Mexico, Canada, Europe); but this provision will especially disadvantage family farmers, cooperative farmers, and other small and medium farmers who do not have access to international credit.

• Farm and medical representatives who want to travel to Cuba to negotiate sales must receive a U.S. government license each time they travel. This could result in one- to two-month delays in travel, putting U.S. businesses at a disadvantage when competing in a world market.

• Most importantly, the new language adds a new restriction which removes the President's authority to make any changes in existing travel regulations. This new restriction would turn the current travel categories into law, and it would require an Act of Congress to change them. Thus, the embargo on travel to Cuba is actually tightened, further violating the right of every U.S. citizen to travel freely.

House leadership is pressing for a decision prior to the July 4th recess. This simply does not permit enough time for thoughtful decision-making. The new language may be removed from the agriculture appropriations bill and attached to another appropriations bill that is already in conference. Or it may go directly to the agriculture appropriations conference. Either way, this means that there will be no opportunity for floor debate or a floor vote. The decision will be made in committee, and when the conferenced bill returns to the floor for final approval, it will be an up-or-down vote, with no opportunity for amendments. The likelihood of defeating a large appropriations bill on one small provision is very small.

Therefore, we urge you to contact your senators and representative immediately. If you have time for only one contact, concentrate on the Senate, as there is where we have a better chance of making an impact.

Give your senators and representative the following message: Don't make any hasty decisions about supporting the new compromise language on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba and other restricted countries. Pay special attention to the issue of financing in terms of restricting sales for small and medium producers, and to the tightening of the embargo on travel--taking it out of the hands of the President and turning current regulations into law. Support the original language on unilateral sanctions on the sale of food and medicine found in the Ashcroft and Dorgan amendments (Senate side), and support the original language in the Nethercutt amendment (House side).

The Congress goes out on recess for the July 4th holiday for the entire week of July 3rd. House leadership wants this matter settled prior to recess. It is possible that the legislation will move quickly. We hope that it will be delayed until after the recess to give Members more time to consider the implications of their actions. We need your calls and e-mails immediately, in case the legislation does move yet this week, even as soon as Thursday. Please call, fax, or e-mail your concerns to your Members of Congress as soon as you are able! The Capitol switchboard number is 202/224-3121; the operator can transfer you to your Congressperson or Senator.  [Or use the congress email page at http://www.house.gov/writerep ]

Thanks for your help. I'll send an update after the July 4th recess.

Sincerely,
Mavis Anderson
Latin America Working Group

Update from Nethercutt's Office, 5/25

A Message From Rob Neal, Rep. Nethercutt's office on Sanctions Rule.

The following is from Rob Neal, Repl. Nethercutt's Agriculture Appropriations staffer and relates to recent decision by House leadership to pull this bill. For your information.

Leadership has pulled the agriculture appropriations rule from consideration on the floor this morning. They are in full scale retreat -- they felt that we were bluffing on having the votes to defeat the rule, but this morning it became very apparent that the rule would be savaged on the floor.

Nethercutt's position now is that we need to let the House work its will on the sanctions provision - this package deserves to be voted on, and if the opposition wants to offer an amendment to strike, we feel they should be allowed to offer it. But we should be able to debate this fairly.

Thanks for all of your hard work -- we really have the momentum on this issue now, and Members are very well educated now on how important this provision is. I expect we are done with Ag for the week, and since next week we are in recess, I think this is done until early June (we return from recess on June 6). --Rob

Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000, Baucus Bill

Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT)

Introduction of: "The Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000"
United States Senate May 25, 2000

I rise today, on behalf of myself and Senators Roberts, Dorgan, and Lincoln, to introduce the "The Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000". For forty years, we have implemented a series of policies designed to end Fidel Castro's leadership of Cuba. The instruments we have used have included a trade embargo, an invasion of Cuba, assassination attempts, and multilateral pressures. None of these measures has moved Cuba any closer to democracy and a market economy.

In fact, the result has been just the opposite. Castro is as entrenched as ever. The economy is in tatters. The Cuban people are suffering. For four decades, Castro has suppressed his own citizens. He has been responsible for the imprisonment and mistreatment of thousands, and the emigration of hundreds of thousands. He has dispatched Cuban troops around the world to support revolution. During the Cold War, Cuba was an integral member of the Soviet bloc. Castro was an eager and active participant in the proxy battles fought between the United States and the Soviet Union throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But the Cold War has been over for a decade. The embargo, which had the goal of forcing Castro out of power, has failed totally. And it will continue to have no impact on the longevity of Castro's rule. What has the embargo and American policy actually done? It has certainly done nothing to advance liberty and democracy for the Cuban people. And there are no prospects that it will.

First, it prohibits all trade with Cuba. It does include an exception for the sale of food and medicine. However, the requirements are so complex and burdensome on US suppliers that very little food or medicine has been exported to Cuba.

We hurt the Cuban people. We hurt American business, American farmers, and American workers. And we have had no impact on the regime. Second, we have succeeded in alienating virtually all potential allies who would be willing to work with us in developing a realistic policy to influence change in Cuba - the nations of the European Union, Canada, the Organization of American States, the United Nations, even the Pope.

Third, we now have a law, the Cuban Liberty an Democratic Solidarity Act, that prohibits lifting the embargo until there is a transition government in Cuba that does not include Castro. This is an "all or nothing policy" that cannot work in the real world.

Unilateral trade sanctions don't work. This is as true with Cuba as it has been with China, Myanmar, Iraq, or North Korea. In some cases, it hurts the people in those countries. And it hurts Americans, our farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses. Forty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing in Cuba. It is time for the Congress to recognize that. I fully support the efforts being made again this year in both the Senate and the House to remove the unilateral restraints we have put on our export of food and medicine to a number of countries, including Cuba. This bill is not a substitute for those efforts.

Rather, this bill is directed only toward Cuba, and goes far beyond liberalization of food and medicine exports. Thomas Jefferson said "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of the day." Current US policy turns Jefferson's statement on its head. Our effort to isolate Cuba through the trade embargo and other policies has failed to bring human rights improvement, has provided a pretext for Castro's continued repression, makes the United States the scapegoat for Castro's failed economic policies, and hurts the Cuban people.

It is time to put together a responsible strategy to improve the human condition in Cuba and set the stage for increased freedom and respect for human rights once Fidel Castro leaves the scene. Obviously, Cuba will not change overnight with the removal of the trade embargo. But this bill is a first step down the road to a peaceful transition to a democratic society and a market economy in Cuba.

Before I conclude, I want to recognize my friend, Congressman Charles Rangel, who has been a leader in trying to end the embargo and move toward normalization of relations with Cuba. I look forward to working closely with him to make this happen.

I urge my Senate colleagues to support our effort.

TEXT OF LEGISLATION FOLLOWS:

106th CONGRESS 2st Session
S 2617
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

Mr. Baucus (for himself and Mr. Roberts, Mr. Dorgan, and Ms. Lincoln) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on May 24, 2000

A BILL

To lift the trade embargo on Cuba, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as `The Cuba Trade Normalization Act of 2000'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

The Congress finds that--

(1) with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba is no longer a threat to the United States or the Western Hemisphere;

(2) the continuation of the embargo on trade between the United States and Cuba that was declared in February of 1962 is counterproductive, adding to the hardships of the Cuban people while making the United States the scapegoat for the failures of the communist system;

(3) in the former Soviet Union, the Eastern bloc countries, China, and Vietnam, the United States is using economic, cultural, academic, and scientific engagement to support its policy of promoting democratic and human rights reforms; and

(4) the United States can best support democratic change in Cuba by promoting trade and commerce, travel, communications, and cultural, academic, and scientific exchanges.

SEC. 3. REMOVAL OF PROVISIONS REST RICTING TRADE AND OTHER RELATIONS WITH CUBA.

(a) AUTHORITY FOR EMBARGO AND SUGAR QUOTA-

Section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2370(a)) is repealed.

(b) TRADING WITH THE ENEMY ACT-

The authorities conferred upon the President by section 5(b) of the Trading With the Enemy Act, which were being exercised with respect to Cuba on July 1, 1977, as a result of a national emergency declared by the President before that date, and are being exercised on the day before the effective date of this Act, may not be exercised on or after such effective date with respect to Cuba. Any regulations in effect on the day before such effective date pursuant to the exercise of such authorities, shall cease to be effective on such date.

(c) EXERCISE OF AUTHORITIES UNDER OTHER PROVISIONS OF LAW-

(1) REMOVAL OF PROHIBITIONS-

Any prohibition on exports to Cuba that is in effect on the day before the effective date of this Act under the Export Administration Act of 1979 shall cease to be effective on such effective date.

(2) AUTHORITY FOR NEW RESTRICTIONS-

The President may, on and after the effective date of this Act--

(A) impose export controls with respect to Cuba under section 5, 6(j), 6(l), or 6(m) of the Export Administration Act of 1979, and

(B) exercise the authorities he has under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act with respect to Cuba pursuant to a declaration of national emergency required by that Act that is made on account of an unusual and extraordinary threat, that did not exist before the enactment of this Act, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.

(d) CUBAN DEMOCRACY ACT- The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992

(22 U.S.C. 6001 and following) is repealed.

(e) REPEAL OF CUBAN LIBERTY AND DEMOCRATIC SOLIDARITY (LIBERTAD)

ACT OF 1996-

(1) REPEAL-The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 is repealed.

(2) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS-

(A) Section 498A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295a) is amended-- (i) in subsection (a)(11) by striking `and intelligence facilities, including the military and intelligence facilities at Lourdes and Cienfuegos,' and inserting `facilities,';

(ii) in subsection (b)--

    (I) in paragraph (4) by adding `and' after the semicolon;

    (II) by striking paragraph (5); and

    (III) by redesignating paragraph (6) as paragraph (5); and

(iii) by striking subsection (d).

(B) Section 498B(k) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2295b(k)) is amended by striking paragraphs (3) and (4).

(C) Section 1611 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsection (c).

(D) Sections 514 and 515 of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 (22 U.S.C. 1643l and 1643m) are repealed.

(f) TERMINATION OF DENIAL OF FOREIGN TAX CREDIT WITH RESPECT TO CUBA-

Subparagraph (A) of section 901(j)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to denial of foreign tax credit, etc., with respect to certain foreign countries) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new flush sentence:

`Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, this subsection shall not apply to Cuba after the date which is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this sentence.'.

(g) SUGAR QUOTA PROHIBITION UNDER FOOD SECURITY ACT OF 1985-

Section 902(c) of the Food Security Act of 1985 is repealed.

SEC. 4. TELECOMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES.

Any common carrier within the meaning of section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 153) is authorized to install, maintain, and repair telecommunications equipment and facilities in Cuba, and otherwise provide telecommunications services between the United States and Cuba. The authority of this section includes the authority to upgrade facilities and equipment.

SEC. 5. TRAVEL.

(a) IN GENERAL- Travel to and from Cuba by individuals who are citizens or residents of the United States, and any transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, may not be regulated or prohibited if such travel would be lawful in the United States.

(b) TRANSACTIONS INCIDENT TO TRAVEL-

Any transactions ordinarily incident to travel which may not be regulated or prohibited under subsection (a) include, but are not limited to-- (1) transactions ordinarily incident to travel or maintenance in Cuba; and (2) normal banking transactions involving foreign currency drafts, traveler's checks, or other negotiable instruments incident to such travel.

SEC. 6. DIRECT MAIL DELIVERY TO CUBA.

The United States Postal Service shall take such actions as are necessary to provide direct mail service to and from Cuba, including, in the absence of common carrier service between the 2 countries, the use of charter providers.

SEC. 7. NEGOTIATIONS WITH CUBA.

(a) NEGOTIATIONS- The President should take all necessary steps to conduct negotiations with the Government of Cuba--

(1) for the purpose of settling claims of nationals of the United States against the Government of Cuba for the taking of property by such government; and (2) for the purpose of securing the protection of internationally recognized human rights.

(b) DEFINITIONS- As used in this section, the terms `national of the United States' and `property' have the meanings given those terms in section 502 of the International Claims Settlement Act of 1949 (22 U.S.C. 1643a).

SEC. 8. EFFECTIVE DATE.

This Act shall take effect 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Modest victory won, more pressure needed!

1:00 pm Thursday, May 25, 2000 - IFCO

NEWS BULLETIN on LEGISLATION FOR FOOD AND MEDICINE SALE TO CUBA:

Late this morning the House (Republican) Leadership just pulled the whole Agriculture Appropriations Bill off the House floor -- because they didn't have enough votes to pass the rule that would have cut out the sanctions provision!

Thanks to the broad popular support for the lifting of Sanctions -- and thanks to your calls and letters -- the House Leadership realized today that they weren't going to be able to move forward with the Agriculture Bill. If the Neterwitt Amendment to lift food and medicine sanctions was cut out. So they pulled the whole Agriculture Bill from consideration and nothing more will be done about it until after the Memorial Day recess. (The House will be back in Session on June 6.)

This desperation move by the House (Republican) Leadership shows that we've made tremendous progress or the sanctions issue. There is strong and growing bi-partisan support for the lifting of food and medicine sanctions against Cuba and other nations. Ordinarily, votes on House rules follow strict party lines, and members of Congress align themselves with their party leadership. But on this issue, many Republicans chose to stand up against the House Leadership and vote in favor of sanctions reform. Our friends on Capitol Hill are saying that this is a very important victory! It was won by the persistent efforts of people like you, and organizations all around the US, who have been keeping the pressure on for sanctions reform.

At the same time that we can claim victory in this battle, we haven't won the war. It's not at all clear how this issue will be resolved: The House Leadership might try to buy off some votes (like they did last year in the Conference Committee); or they might dump the Ag Appropriations Bill into a big omnibus spending bill -- which would mean the sanctions issue would never get discussed. Or they might see the light and try to negotiate something new about Sanctions Reform.  We'll let you know in June -- and we'll keep the pressure on -- and we thank you for your good work!

Be sure to stay in touch with your Member of Congress and let them know you want Sanctions against Cuba LIFTED!

Congressional switchboard: 202/225-3121. [or use the congress email page at http://www.house.gov/writerep ]

Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)
Pastors for Peace
402 W 145th St, NYC 10031
212.926-5757; fax: 212.926-5842 <http://www.ifconews.org>


Critical legislation up for debate 5/25, Thursday.

May 24, 2000

Dear U.S./Cuba Policy Advocates:

The moment continues to be critical for easing sanctions on the sale of
food and medicine to Cuba. We urgently need your calls/e-mails/faxes
today to every member of the House of Representatives.

Here's what's happening: the Republican leadership has decided to go
ahead with consideration of the Agriculture Appropriations bill (HR
4461) on the House floor, likely this Thursday, May 25. The bill is
expectd to be discussed by the Rules Committee today; the Rules
Committee sets the procedures and regulations under which a bill is
considered. It is our understanding that the Rules Committee will NOT
"protect" the food and medicine sanctions language.

The Nethercutt language is procedurally controversial because it is
technically "authorizing on an appropriations bill." The House rules
prohibit legislative language (which is supposed to be done through the
authorizing committees) on appropriations bills. However, it is a
common practice. If the House Rules Committee does not procedurally
"protect" the Nethercutt language, it will be "subject to a point of
order" on the House floor, meaning that one member can object to its
inclusion in the Agriculture Appropriations bill and if the
parliamentarian aggrees, the language will be dropped.

The message to your Congressperson is simple and straightforward.
Regarding the House Agriculture Appropriations bill (HR 4461):

* If the Nethercutt language on food and medicine sanctions is not
protected by the Rule, or if Cuba is carved out, we strongly urge you to
oppose the Rule.

* Let the democratic process work. Let sanctions reform, including
Cuba, come to the floor of the House for a vote.

This may be the key vote this year on sanctions reform, and
Congresspeople need to hear from constituents urging their opposition to
the Rule. This is especially true of those Members of Congress who are
co-sponsors of the Serrano food and medicine bill (HR 1644), signers
(220 members) of last year's letter to Speaker Hastert on sanctions
reform, and signers (92 members) of last week's letter to Chairman
Dreier of the Rules Committee. If you are uncertain of the position and
actions of your Congressperson, give me a call (202.546.7010) or send an
e-mail. I'll be happy to look up the information.

I know that many of you have recently been in touch with your
Congressperson on this issue; it has made a difference! Please make one more call! The number for the Capitol switchboard is 202.224.3121.  [or use the congress email page at http://www.house.gov/writerep ]

Please share this letter with your networks and friends. And let me
know what actions you take. Now is the moment!

Thanks for all your help,

Mavis Anderson
Latin America Working Group

 

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