Cuba hearings to begin Tuesday on Capitol Hill
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD MWHITEFIELD@MIAMIHERALD.COM
02/02/2015 7:00 AM 02/02/2015 7:56 PM
The first in a series of congressional hearings examining the potential
impact of President Barack Obama’s new Cuba policy gets underway Tuesday
in the Senate.
Later in the week, the action switches to the House with two hearings:
the main show — “Assessing the Administration’s Sudden Shift’’ — before
the Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and a subcommittee hearing
on human rights in Cuba on Thursday.
The common theme for this week’s hearings seems to be whether Obama gave
away too much without getting enough from Cuba as the two countries work
toward restoring diplomatic relations.
That’s the position of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who as
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere subcommittee
called the first Cuba hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
In an opinion piece he wrote Monday for CNN, Rubio recalled a line from
The Godfather Part II in which mob character Michael Corleone responds
to the demands of a U.S. senator by saying, “My offer is this: nothing.”
“In recent months, I’ve made clear that I believe the president and his
allies in Congress are misguided for supporting a policy that gives away
practically all the leverage the United States has to bring about
democratic change in Cuba in exchange for virtually nothing,” wrote Rubio.
The senator said he wants answers on what the administration has done to
secure the repatriation of an estimated 70 fugitives from U.S. justice
who now live in Cuba as well as “what exactly the Castro regime has done
in exchange for Obama’s softening of travel and banking regulations that
will now allow more U.S. dollars to fill the Castro regime’s coffers.”
Rubio, who is testing the waters for a possible presidential run, called
the hearing the same day he assumed the subcommittee chairmanship last week.
Among those scheduled to testify at the Senate hearing are Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson, who
recently headed the U.S. delegation during normalization talks in
Havana, and Tomasz Malinowski, assistant secretary for democracy, human
rights, and labor.
Rosa María Payá, of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement, also is
scheduled to testify. She is the daughter of Oswaldo Payá, one of Cuba’s
most respected dissidents when he died in a mysterious 2012 car crash.
She’ll be joined by activists Berta Soler, Miriam Leiva, and Manuel
There’s expected to be an overflow crowd when the House Foreign Affairs
Committee convenes at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The hearing will be webcast at
“The Obama administration’s sudden shift on Cuba policy raises many
concerns, including how hard the United States pressed the Castro regime
on its abysmal human-rights record during the secret White House
negotiations that cut out the State Department,” said Republican Rep. Ed
Royce, a Californian who chairs the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“When it comes to the unilateral concessions provided to the Castro
regime, the Obama administration has much to answer for. From the
commercial goodie bag provided to the Castro regime to the pardons
bestowed upon three convicted spies, one of whom was responsible for the
murder of American citizens, the concessions provided to these Caribbean
despots is pathetic,” said South Florida Republican Rep. Ileana
“I look forward to hearing from State, Treasury, and Commerce and
questioning the basis for normalizing relations with an unworthy regime
that continues to detain dissidents,” she said.
In addition to Jacobson, John E. Smith, deputy director of Treasury’s
Office of Foreign Assets Control, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of
Commerce for Export Administration Matthew S. Borman are slated to testify.
During a Thursday morning hearing on human rights before the House
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and
International Organizations, Jorge Luis García Pérez, an anti-Castro
activist known as Antúnez, will testify.
Source: Cuba hearings to begin Tuesday on Capitol Hill | The Miami
Herald The Miami Herald –