Leading NGOs working to change U.S.-Cuba policy issued the following statement regarding the Omnibus Appropriations bill.
“Steps taken by Congress to reform Cuba policy in the omnibus appropriations are important steps forward and indicate how much the political climate around this issue has changed.
“For the first time in almost a decade, Congress is acting to loosen the Cuba embargo and send these modest reforms to a President who has promised to change the policy rather than issue veto threats or keep things as they are.
“When we have a Congress and a president acting to make sensible changes in Cuba policy, this indicates to us that the ground has shifted, and that there is momentum behind the effort to make broader and more lasting changes in the policy.
“We now urge President Obama to act ‘immediately’ to remove all restrictions on the rights of Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba and to provide financial support for their families by using his executive authority, as he promised in his campaign.
“As the president takes this step, we will continue to work with Congress to enact permanent legislation guaranteeing the rights of all Americans to travel to Cuba. We can think of no other step that Congress could take this year that would better reflect American values and interests or make a bigger difference for the Cuban people.”
The last time Congress enacted legislation to loosen the restrictions of the Cuba embargo was in 2000, when it adopted the so-called “Nethercutt amendment” that allows American farmers and agricultural business to sell their goods directly to Cuba.
The organizations issuing this statement included The Center for Democracy in the Americas, The Latin America Working Group, The New America Foundation, and The Washington Office on Latin America. These diverse organizations are working together to make decisive changes in U.S. Cuba policy this year.