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realclearworld

BILL TO END TRAVEL BAN TO CUBA MAY PASS THIS YEAR

It was only a matter of time with these wankers in control of the government .... and look whose name pops up again....

By Fabiola Moura

Sept. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Legislation to end a ban on Americans traveling to Cuba has enough support in the U.S. House of Representatives to win approval by year-end, said Representative Sam Farr, a California Democrat.

The bill to let U.S. citizens resume travel to the Caribbean island except in times of war or cases in which they face imminent danger has 181 votes in the House and needs 218 to pass, said Farr, a co-sponsor of the legislation. The plan is backed by travel groups such as the United States Tour Operators Association and the National Tour Association and human rights groups such as the Washington Office on Latin America and has been helped by President Barack Obama’s election, he said.

“It is believed we can get to this before the end of the year,” Farr, 68, said in an interview in New York. “We haven’t had a policy about Cuba. We’ve had policies about getting votes in Florida and Obama changed that by getting those votes.”

The U.S. ended restrictions on Sept. 3 on Cuban-Americans travel and money transfers to relatives in Cuba. The new rules also allow U.S. telecommunications companies to provide service in Cuba for mobile telephone, satellite radio and television. Exceptions to the 1962 trade embargo on communist Cuba include $500 million per year in agricultural exports, Farr said.

“If you are a potato, you can get to Cuba very easily,” he said. “But if you are a person, you can’t, and that is our problem.”

Pressure

Obama is under pressure from Latin American leaders to end the trade embargo to help improve relations in the region. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will ask Obama to end the embargo during the United Nations General Assembly this week, spokesman Marcelo Baumbach said Sept. 17.

Obama announced in April he would lift travel limits for Cuban-Americans visiting family in Cuba. At the same time, Representatives Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans, issued a statement that the president had made “unilateral concessions to the dictatorship” that would “embolden it to further isolate, imprison and brutalize pro- democracy activists.”

Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro, who handed power to his brother Raul Castro last year, called on Obama to completely lift the trade embargo.

White House officials have said there are no plans to lift the embargo. At the same time, the administration is undertaking a full review of policy toward Cuba with the goal of advancing “the cause of freedom” in the country less than 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the coast of Florida, Daniel Restrepo, a special assistant to Obama, said in April.

March Proposal

A group of House and Senate lawmakers proposed in March ending restrictions to allow all U.S. citizens and residents to travel to Cuba. Farr said the legislation, known as the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act,” also has enough votes to clear the Senate, where Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, and Republican Senator Michael Enzi of Wyoming introduced the legislation.

“There’s a lot more openness in the Congress,” Geoff Thale, program director in the Washington Office on Latin America, said in an interview in New York. “Support is building. The travel industry and business community are not just formally in support but actively engaged. That’s why I think we’re going to see a difference.”

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who is of Cuban descent and sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to fight the easing of travel restrictions.

Philip Peters, a vice president and Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute, a public policy research group in Arlington, Virginia, said proponents of the bill may succeed in winning congressional approval as public opinion grows among Americans that U.S. rules on Cuba aren’t in line with much of the country’s foreign policy.

‘Good Shot’

“They’ve got a good shot,” Peters said in an interview. “Certainly right now they’re in striking distance and they’ve got plenty of time left in the session.”

Ending the travel ban may lead as many as 1 million Americans to visit the island every year, Lisa Simon, president of the National Tour Association, known as NTA, said in an interview. It would also help push forward talks on human rights issues, Thale said.

“We’ve had a policy for 50 years of isolating Cuba and it hasn’t done anything about the human rights situation,” Thale said. “I don’t think there is some magic solution. I don’t think ending the travel ban will cause Fidel to say let’s have elections, let’s release all the political prisoners tomorrow. What it will do is open the process of dialogue.”

Obama’s administration has been showing a “gradual relaxation and diplomatic opening” toward Cuba, Thale said. He cited the government’s decision to reinitiate talks on migration and direct mail, and also to put down the billboard operated by the U.S. government outside its special interests section in Havana, which he said often displayed anti-Cuba messages.

12 comments to BILL TO END TRAVEL BAN TO CUBA MAY PASS THIS YEAR

  • antonio2009

    The Lexington Institute is one of the groups that accused Castro agent Sylvia Wilhelm said she met with to work together toward eliminating the travel restrictions to Cuba.
    I read all the details in the copy of her June 15, 2009, deposition that I just bought from Goldfinger Reporting, Inc. in Miami. Lots of names and dates on the deposition, enough material for various radio and TV programs. No wonder she dropped her lawsuit against Chris Simmons. Stay tuned. . . .

  • Antonio, are you going to put the deposition online? Sounds like great reading.

  • antonio2009

    Q. Tell me some of those [members of Congress] you met with.
    A. Oh, my goodness. Let's see. I have
    5 met with Senator Dodd. I have met with
    6 Representative Delahunt, Representative Flake,
    7 Representative McGovern, Representative Ileana
    8 Ros-Lehtinen, Representative Engel, Representative
    9 Berman. I have been to the offices of Senator
    10 Spector, Senator Baucus, Senator Dorgan, Senator
    11 Enzi. I can go on and on and on. The list is
    12 long.

  • antonio2009

    A. Ros Lehtinen agreed that they were difficult regulations. She did not agree that she would support a change of status, of the status quo.
    Q. Ever meet with Diaz-Balart?
    A. They have never allowed us in their office.
    Q. Do you know why?
    A. You will have to ask them.

  • antonio2009

    Mike: I am going to let the Miami Herald buy their own copy and write an article about it. Enough details for a good spy story, 307 pages!

  • Mr. Mojito

    This bill will pass ...

    because it's "Change Raul can Believe in"

  • Conyoooooooooooooooooooo!

    Cool stuff, prof Tony! Please keep us primed. This could "blow the roof off the SUCKA!"

  • antonio2009

    Humberto: Here is another teaser from the June 15, 2009 deposition of accused Castro agent Sylvia Wilhelm (available from Goldfinger Reporting, Inc. in Miami)partly describing her working relationship with Cuban intelligence agent Amado Soto:
    Q. You testified that you met with Amado Soto in private. Did you meet with him in
    private on five occasions, more or less?
    A. I can't quantify the numbers. I don't remember.
    Q. You testified that you stayed in Hotel Nacional. How many occasions have you
    stayed in Hotel Nacional?
    A. Several.
    Q. How many?
    A. More than five, less than ten.
    Q. What floor in Hotel Nacional do you normally stay at?
    A. I could stay on the seventh floor, I could stay on the sixth floor. I can assure you, I will stay where the microphones are on.
    Q. You will stay where the microphones are on?
    A. I am sure we are being taped.

  • antonio2009

    Sylvia Wilhelm, the accused Castro spy who destroyed her lawsuit against Lt. Col. Chris Simmons due to uncontrollable babble during her deposition:
    Q Do you know Lisandro Perez?
    A. Yes, I do.
    Q. How do you know him?
    A. Through his position at Florida International University. He is well known in the
    community, the Cuban Research Institute, and also the fact that his daughter-in-law is my Goddaughter. . .Cynthia Barrera.
    [Her attorney, who charged her $75,000, obviously didn't coach her to use succinct answers].

  • antonio2009

    ACLU attorney John de Leon in 2006 was busy representing accused Castro agents Marifeli Perez-Stable and also Sylvia Wilhelm, according to her deposition testimony:
    A. I have had two contacts via telephone with the FBI.
    Q. Let's talk about the most recent one.
    A. The most recent one happened, and I'll tell you exactly when it happened. It was my birthday. Well, they left a card trying to contact me on June 22, 2006. I was away on vacation and we were supposed to meet. My attorney contacted them and basically asked them what is the reason for the meeting and, just to talk about Cuba. They gave me the choice as to whether I wanted to meet or not and I elected not to meet because I had nothing to talk to them about.
    Q. Who was your attorney for that particular case?
    A. For that particular phone call?
    Q. Yes, ma'am.
    A. John de Leon.
    Q. Why did you find it necessary to contact an attorney when you got the card from the FBI?
    A. Because it seems to me that anybody who has two inches of brain and is going to sit with the FBI should always be accompanied by legal representation. It is the American way.
    Q. Dr. [Carlos] Alvarez had already been arrested at this time, correct?
    A. Dr. Alvarez -- he was in custody, yes.

  • antonio2009

    Accused Castro agent Sylvia Wilhelm caught in a lie in her sworn deposition. She first states that her physician husband knows when she needs a Valium to calm her down. Since no prescription was issued, she then states that what she had was "less than a Valium." Shortly after this deposition, Wilhelm rescinded her lawsuit against Lt. Col. Chris Simmons.

    Q. Have you received any threats from anyone as a result of Mr. Simmons' statements?
    A. No, I have not.
    . . . .
    Q The emotional distress that you indicated in your Interrogatories and your testimony that you have been suffering, have you received any medical attention for that emotional distress?
    A. I live with my physician husband and he knows how to treat me.
    Q Are you saying your husband treated you for emotional distress?
    A. My husband knows when I need a Valium. My husband knows when I need to calm
    down. He knows me.
    Q. Is that a yes?
    A. Yes, my husband.
    Q. Your husband is an internist, correct?
    A. Yes.
    Q. And is it your testimony then that your husband prescribes medication as he sees fit determining your emotional state?
    A. Nothing has been a prescription drug.
    Q. So Valium is not a prescription drug?
    A. No, no. I took something less than a Valium. I said Valium mainly to show something that was a calming effect. No, it was not Valium.

  • I'm curious for the reasons she gave for the sudden dismissal....

    because for her to dismiss it, Simmons had to agree to it and could have sued her for costs for voluntary dropping the suit, unless she offered him to dismiss it if each one bears their own fees and costs. I need to get on Pacer and see.