Lawlessness on U.S.-Cuba policy, the New Normal

obama cuba

By Jason Poblete in DC Dispatches:

Lawlessness on U.S.-Cuba Policy, the New Normal

Cuba is far from being an emerging economy; because of political and economic immaturity, they are more akin to an underdeveloped nation. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries to subvert U.S. law through the regulatory process, and make no mistake about it, they have been doing so, Cuba remains a frontier market that also happens to be subject to comprehensive U.S. sanctions. It is time that the Congress end their slumber on U.S.-Cuba policy and initiate a series of oversight hearings to expose the lawlessness of recent regulatory changes. U.S. taxpayers are already owed billions of dollars by the Cuba regime. Let’s not make it billions more.

As I shared with the Wall Street Journal in February 2015, and believe it even more so today, certain sectors in Washington, DC, when it comes to Cuba, are suffering from a severe case of “irrational exuberance”. Among other things, it is irrational to get excited about engaging with a police state and command economy whose total GDP is less than 1/10 or so that of the GDP of South Florida.

Moreover, why would any series businessperson want to do business with party bosses, and those loyal to them, that orchestrated the largest ideologically driven criminal seizure of American business and capital by a foreign government, likely ever? Or otherwise engage in transactions with corrupt Communist party bosses and human rights abusers that amount to, well, fire sales?

The President likely had the power to re-open the U.S. embassy in Havana. He can also ease certain travel restrictions and allow for the export of agricultural, medical, as well as telecommunications goods and services; however, the easing of certain sanctions must not help the regime. Several of the new regulations, especially the ones issued late last year as well as yesterday, are out of harmony with the statutory grant of authority granted the President by Congress.

Just because U.S. regulations incorporate by reference Cuba’s definition of what Cuba says is their “private sector,” a private sector it does not create. There is no private sector in Cuba. Trafficking in property in illegal, a crime; yet, many of these regulatory changes condone and encourage trafficking in stolen property. Facilitating credit or debit card transactions in Cuba by U.S. banks likely conflicts with trafficking laws as well as the statutory prohibition on indirect financing of the regime. And allowing telecommunication companies to sell certain equipment to the regime also triggers these concerns, as well as, potentially, a statutory prohibition on improving Cuba’s telecom infrastructure. These and other legal issues much be cleared up.

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