8:04 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time.

While there may be some merits to this issue and the debate is certainly one that this House should have, it does not belong on this appropriation bill. This appropriation bill has enough weight on it, and I would urge my colleagues not to add this amendment to this bill. I urge the rejection of this amendment.

8:04 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time.

While there may be some merits to this issue and the debate is certainly one that this House should have, it does not belong on this appropriation bill. This appropriation bill has enough weight on it, and I would urge my colleagues not to add this amendment to this bill. I urge the rejection of this amendment.

8:05 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment allows the continuation of an oppressive communist dictatorship who, according to the State Department Human Rights Reports has actually increased its persecution and harassment of human rights dissidents. It denies medical treatment and food to political prisoners; it imprisons anyone at any time for expressing political views and beliefs that run contrary to the communist dictatorship.

This amendment would give the Cuban dictatorship additional funds to host killers of U.S. police officers, cop killers such as Joanne Chesimard who gunned down in cold blood New Jersey State trooper Werner Foerster, or those who murdered New Mexico State trooper James Harper. It would help keep other fugitives of U.S. justice in the lap of luxury, fugitives who are wanted for murder and kidnapping and armed robbery, among other heinous crimes.

This amendment gives funds to a dictatorship that condones the silencing of the opposition in Cuba by a regime which is classified by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in the Hemisphere as the worst violator of human rights in all the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would give funds to enable Castro's intelligence service to expand its espionage in and against the United States. After all, they suffered a severe blow in 1998 when one of their spy rings was discovered by the FBI for their penetration of U.S. military bases, an action which threatened U.S. national security.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would help support a regime who has sent special agents to Vietnam to help torture American POWs.

The only ones who will benefit from this amendment are the Castro brothers and their band of thugs who use violence and terror to hold on to power. They trample on the human rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

This amendment tells the Castro regime that it is okay for the regime to hold hostage the children of constituents in my district such as Jose Cohen, a Cuban refugee who escaped from prison 5 years ago. It tells the Castro regime that the 9-year-old daughter of Milagros Cruz Cano, a blind human rights dissident who escaped from Castro's gulag last November, is the property of the regime and she will not be allowed to be reunited with her mother here in the United States.

This amendment would give money to this regime, and the supporters must understand, as the Fraternal Order of Police has stated, that attempts to normalize relations with Fidel Castro and, they say, the American people and the Fraternal Order of Police do not feel that we must compromise our system of justice and the very fabric of our society to foreign dictators like Fidel Castro.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

8:05 PM EDT

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL 18th

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment allows the continuation of an oppressive communist dictatorship who, according to the State Department Human Rights Reports has actually increased its persecution and harassment of human rights dissidents. It denies medical treatment and food to political prisoners; it imprisons anyone at any time for expressing political views and beliefs that run contrary to the communist dictatorship.

This amendment would give the Cuban dictatorship additional funds to host killers of U.S. police officers, cop killers such as Joanne Chesimard who gunned down in cold blood New Jersey State trooper Werner Foerster, or those who murdered New Mexico State trooper James Harper. It would help keep other fugitives of U.S. justice in the lap of luxury, fugitives who are wanted for murder and kidnapping and armed robbery, among other heinous crimes.

This amendment gives funds to a dictatorship that condones the silencing of the opposition in Cuba by a regime which is classified by the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression in the Hemisphere as the worst violator of human rights in all the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would give funds to enable Castro's intelligence service to expand its espionage in and against the United States. After all, they suffered a severe blow in 1998 when one of their spy rings was discovered by the FBI for their penetration of U.S. military bases, an action which threatened U.S. national security.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment would help support a regime who has sent special agents to Vietnam to help torture American POWs.

The only ones who will benefit from this amendment are the Castro brothers and their band of thugs who use violence and terror to hold on to power. They trample on the human rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

This amendment tells the Castro regime that it is okay for the regime to hold hostage the children of constituents in my district such as Jose Cohen, a Cuban refugee who escaped from prison 5 years ago. It tells the Castro regime that the 9-year-old daughter of Milagros Cruz Cano, a blind human rights dissident who escaped from Castro's gulag last November, is the property of the regime and she will not be allowed to be reunited with her mother here in the United States.

This amendment would give money to this regime, and the supporters must understand, as the Fraternal Order of Police has stated, that attempts to normalize relations with Fidel Castro and, they say, the American people and the Fraternal Order of Police do not feel that we must compromise our system of justice and the very fabric of our society to foreign dictators like Fidel Castro.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

8:08 PM EDT

Joe Moakley, D-MA 9th

Mr. MOAKLEY. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from South Carolina for yielding me this time.

Mr. Chairman, our policy prohibiting Americans from visiting Cuba is really a relic of the Cold War. Forty years ago, it might have been a great idea. Today it is not.

My colleagues are offering a great amendment, one that will open dialogue, break down the barriers, and foster understanding.

Mr. Chairman, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost much of its military strength. In 1998, the Defense Department said that Cuba was no longer a threat to national security. I would say to my colleagues, if the Defense Department does not think Cuba is a threat, why can American citizens not visit there? We allow American citizens to travel all over the world; we should certainly allow them to travel 90 miles away to Cuba.

In 1982, the South African government was engaging in the most hideous kind of apartheid, and U.S. citizens were allowed to travel there. In 1988, when communism still existed, the United States citizens were allowed to travel to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, the Soviet Union. Today, when terror still abounds, U.S. [Page: H6696]

citizens are allowed to travel to Syria. Mr. Chairman, the only countries besides Cuba which American citizens are prohibited

from traveling to are Iraq and Libya. I would submit, Mr. Chairman, that we have a lot more reasons to fear Saddam Hussein and Moammar Khadafi than we do Fidel Castro.

History has shown that communism crumbles when exposed to the light of American democracy. Mr. Chairman, let us put the light on Cuba.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

8:10 PM EDT

Thomas DeLay, R-TX 22nd

Mr. DeLAY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. I do so because I have been listening to this debate, and I am rather appalled by the notion that we won the Cold War by allowing Americans to go visit, and I disagree with my friend from South Carolina. Ronald Reagan did not win the Cold War by engaging and appeasement. Ronald Reagan did the right thing by standing up and pointing to the Communist dictators that killed millions and millions of people, and called them what

they are, the evil empire. Called them the evil empire. Fidel Castro is evil.

Now, it might be nice to send American citizens down as tourists to pad the pockets of Fidel Castro and fund his habit, but where is our compassion for the people of Cuba, the people, the thousands upon thousands of people in Cuba that have been maimed, killed, buried? Where is our compassion for the American citizens that Fidel Castro has killed in a murderous way?

This is a tiny island, this is not Eastern Europe, this is not the Soviet Union, this is a tiny island with an evil dictator that is oppressing his citizens. Yes, it has not worked the way it should have worked, because we have not been turning the screws on him and screwing him down and putting pressure on him, so that his people will rise up and throw him out for what he is.

Let me just tell my colleagues something. We talk about apartheid. The tourist industry in Cuba is apartheid. The Cubans do not get to go to the tourist facilities except to work there, as long as they are very well screened and the right kind of people that will work with the tourists. There is no interchange here. You go down, you lay on the beach, a nice hotel, you get to go to all of these wonderful places. This is an evil empire on the island of Cuba, and we should not lift the embargoes,

we should screw it down tighter.

8:10 PM EDT

Thomas DeLay, R-TX 22nd

Mr. DeLAY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. I do so because I have been listening to this debate, and I am rather appalled by the notion that we won the Cold War by allowing Americans to go visit, and I disagree with my friend from South Carolina. Ronald Reagan did not win the Cold War by engaging and appeasement. Ronald Reagan did the right thing by standing up and pointing to the Communist dictators that killed millions and millions of people, and called them what

they are, the evil empire. Called them the evil empire. Fidel Castro is evil.

Now, it might be nice to send American citizens down as tourists to pad the pockets of Fidel Castro and fund his habit, but where is our compassion for the people of Cuba, the people, the thousands upon thousands of people in Cuba that have been maimed, killed, buried? Where is our compassion for the American citizens that Fidel Castro has killed in a murderous way?

This is a tiny island, this is not Eastern Europe, this is not the Soviet Union, this is a tiny island with an evil dictator that is oppressing his citizens. Yes, it has not worked the way it should have worked, because we have not been turning the screws on him and screwing him down and putting pressure on him, so that his people will rise up and throw him out for what he is.

Let me just tell my colleagues something. We talk about apartheid. The tourist industry in Cuba is apartheid. The Cubans do not get to go to the tourist facilities except to work there, as long as they are very well screened and the right kind of people that will work with the tourists. There is no interchange here. You go down, you lay on the beach, a nice hotel, you get to go to all of these wonderful places. This is an evil empire on the island of Cuba, and we should not lift the embargoes,

we should screw it down tighter.

8:15 PM EDT

Bob Menendez, D-NJ 13th

Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the Sanford amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I would tell the gentleman, I take offense to the gentleman's statement that in fact three congressional districts, that supposedly we are working on behalf of our congressional districts, three congressional districts driving policy.

That would be the equivalent of saying that Irish American Members of this House who promote peace and justice in northern Ireland are driving that policy, or that Jewish Members of this House are driving the policy on the Middle East, or that African-American Members of this House who believe very passionately about the need to invoke and engage in Africa are driving that policy.

I reject that view. I find it distasteful.

Let me say that I hope to hear from some of our colleagues about human [Page: H6697]

rights, about democracy, about the hundreds of prisoners in Castro's jails. They are very eloquent in other parts of the world. They are silent as it relates to Cuba.

Twelve types of travel are now permitted under existing law. Thousands are going to Cuba for legitimate media, cultural exchanges, academic, and religious purposes. This provision would actually create a set of circumstances where Americans, because the law would not be changed, Americans would have to otherwise travel to Cuba who can travel to Cuba legally; under these licenses, they would now have to choose between traveling illegally or not going at all.

I do not believe that sunning one's buns on the beaches, I do not believe that sipping rum at the bar, I do not believe that smoking cigars or that the poor slave labor at the Hotel Nacional ultimately promotes freedom, democracy, and human rights. That is, in essence, what we are doing, throwing an economic lifeline to Castro.

8:17 PM EDT

Sam Gejdenson, D-CT 2nd

Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, what is clear is that the present policy towards Cuba has failed. What completely leaves us incapable of understanding is why we would ban American travel. Are we fearful that Americans would somehow be beguiled by Castro's political system, and they would go over?

It seems to me clear that our policy for 40 years has failed. If Members want to undermine Fidel Castro, get out of the way, let Americans of Cuban descent and every other national origin go there. The contrast will undermine Fidel Castro.

Somehow Members think that Americans would lose their faith in our political system, or Americans might go over to the other side. There is no physical harm or danger to Americans. It is clear the American embargo on Cuba has only isolated America.

The answer here is clear: Let us change the policy, and we will change Fidel Castro. Continue this policy and we only shore up Castro.

8:17 PM EDT

Sam Gejdenson, D-CT 2nd

Mr. GEJDENSON. Mr. Chairman, what is clear is that the present policy towards Cuba has failed. What completely leaves us incapable of understanding is why we would ban American travel. Are we fearful that Americans would somehow be beguiled by Castro's political system, and they would go over?

It seems to me clear that our policy for 40 years has failed. If Members want to undermine Fidel Castro, get out of the way, let Americans of Cuban descent and every other national origin go there. The contrast will undermine Fidel Castro.

Somehow Members think that Americans would lose their faith in our political system, or Americans might go over to the other side. There is no physical harm or danger to Americans. It is clear the American embargo on Cuba has only isolated America.

The answer here is clear: Let us change the policy, and we will change Fidel Castro. Continue this policy and we only shore up Castro.

8:18 PM EDT

Benjamin Arthur Gilman, R-NY 20th

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentlewoman for yielding time to me.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. SANFORD) is a distinguished member of our Committee on International Relations for whom I have the highest regard. However, I find it necessary to oppose his amendment.

This Sanford amendment would make enforcement of travel restrictions to Cuba virtually impossible. The travel restrictions themselves would not be lifted. People who violated law would still be subject to criminal penalties.

Furthermore, this amendment would end the Treasury Department's ability to issue case-by-case licenses for travel to Cuba, as is now permitted under existing regulations. People who wanted to travel to Cuba legally for purposes that we all support would not be able to get licenses. In effect, the amendment would prevent law-abiding people from visiting Cuba.

The net effect of this amendment would be to encourage people to break the law. We must not send that kind of a message, particularly not to our Nation's young people.

This is particularly true when our fundamental quarrel with Fidel is that he refuses to allow the rule of law in Cuba. The Castro government refuses to take the steps that would permit us to lift the provisions of our embargo: freeing political prisoners, permitting opposition political parties, freeing labor unions to organize, and scheduling free, fair, internationally supervised elections.

With all due respect to my good friend, the gentleman from South Carolina, I urge our colleagues to oppose this amendment.

8:20 PM EDT

Gregory Meeks, D-NY 6th

Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Chairman, if the United States listened to the people of Cuba, to Cuba's religious leaders, and to the overwhelming majority of its human rights activists and dissidents, it would lift its embargo and begin to normalize relations with the island.

What we should be doing is learning from our own mistakes. Whether we brand a country Communist or not, evil is evil, bad is bad. But we should learn from our own mistakes, for surely in this country it just took to 1965 to where all Americans in this country had the right to vote in America, in a democracy.

We can look back, back in the 1950s, when we sent people like Paul Robeson, Junior, away from this country. We did not allow people to do various things and exercise human rights in this country.

So what we should do, we should take this opportunity to show what we have learned by our mistakes, that understanding that engaging with Cuba, when clearly for 40 years holding them at bay has not done anything, but by engaging with them, we could bring democracy.

8:20 PM EDT

Gregory Meeks, D-NY 6th

Mr. MEEKS of New York. Mr. Chairman, if the United States listened to the people of Cuba, to Cuba's religious leaders, and to the overwhelming majority of its human rights activists and dissidents, it would lift its embargo and begin to normalize relations with the island.

What we should be doing is learning from our own mistakes. Whether we brand a country Communist or not, evil is evil, bad is bad. But we should learn from our own mistakes, for surely in this country it just took to 1965 to where all Americans in this country had the right to vote in America, in a democracy.

We can look back, back in the 1950s, when we sent people like Paul Robeson, Junior, away from this country. We did not allow people to do various things and exercise human rights in this country.

So what we should do, we should take this opportunity to show what we have learned by our mistakes, that understanding that engaging with Cuba, when clearly for 40 years holding them at bay has not done anything, but by engaging with them, we could bring democracy.

8:22 PM EDT

Peter Deutsch, D-FL 20th

Mr. DEUTSCH. Mr. Chairman, I would point out to my colleagues, we have talked about apartheid and what existed in South Africa. One of the things we could do is ask every American who would travel to Cuba not to stay in a hotel that carries out apartheid.

Many of my colleagues have visited Cuba. Maybe they are not aware that literally no Cuban is literally even allowed into the lobby of the hotel legally under Cuban law; that when they meet with my colleagues, they actually have to get specific exemptions from that law to meet with my colleagues in those hotels.

That is the regime we are dealing with, a regime that, if we do this, we throw an economic lifeline to them. That is a mistake. Cuban workers who get paid 25 cents an hour do not get paid that. It goes to the Cuban government, and they get paid 10 cents an hour.

I urge the defeat of the amendment.

8:22 PM EDT

Peter Deutsch, D-FL 20th

Mr. DEUTSCH. Mr. Chairman, I would point out to my colleagues, we have talked about apartheid and what existed in South Africa. One of the things we could do is ask every American who would travel to Cuba not to stay in a hotel that carries out apartheid.

Many of my colleagues have visited Cuba. Maybe they are not aware that literally no Cuban is literally even allowed into the lobby of the hotel legally under Cuban law; that when they meet with my colleagues, they actually have to get specific exemptions from that law to meet with my colleagues in those hotels.

That is the regime we are dealing with, a regime that, if we do this, we throw an economic lifeline to them. That is a mistake. Cuban workers who get paid 25 cents an hour do not get paid that. It goes to the Cuban government, and they get paid 10 cents an hour.

I urge the defeat of the amendment.

8:23 PM EDT

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-FL 21st

Mr. DIAZ-BALART. Mr. Chairman, I want to say to my distinguished friend, the gentleman from South Carolina, his measure, if passed, would constitute the most significant hard currency generator for the Cuban dictatorship that we could pass in this Congress.

Secondly, it would in that way contribute more than any other measure to the oppression by the repression machinery of the Cuban people by the dictatorship.

I would remind the gentleman from South Carolina when just a few years ago we were in Guantanamo we met with 35,000 refugees. For the first time in 35 years, they were able to elect a council. The council said, tighten sanctions, do not ease them.

Then I asked him here, right here where the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. BARTLETT) is right now, just a few weeks ago, is there any difference between the views of the people they met in Cuba and the people they met in Guantanamo? And the gentleman said no.

So with all respect, I do not understand the change in the gentleman from South Carolina. Do not agree to this amendment, defeat it. It would be the singular, the most significant way in which we could increase hard currency to the dictatorship. Defeat the Sanford amendment.