Sen. Patrick Leahy: Cold War Cuba restrictions treated people “as pawns in a political game”

Patrick Leahy

How well did restricting travel by Americans to Cuba work from 1961 until 2014, when President Obama relaxed those Cold War restrictions, decades after the Russians had abandoned the island and Cuba no longer posed any threat to us? It failed miserably. At the same time, it treated the Cuban and American people as pawns in a political game.

Throughout those many years, the Castro government had a ready excuse for its own failings and repressive policies. They could blame it on the United States, and for many years, the Cuban people believed it because we, with our embargo, wouldn’t let Americans travel to Cuba or do business there.

—Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–VT)

Trump Administration Cuba Policy,  Senate Floor, June 26, 2017

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Sen. Patrick Leahy: Advocates of Cuba sanctions “have learned nothing from history”

Patrick LeahyAnyone who thinks that more economic pressure, or ultimatums, will force the Cuban authorities to stop arresting political dissidents and embrace democracy have learned nothing from history. For more than half a century we have tried a policy of unilateral sanctions and isolation, and it has achieved neither of those goals. Instead, it has been used by the Cuban government as an excuse for repression to protect Cuba’s sovereignty. It has hurt the Cuban people, not the Cuban government. And it has provided an opening for our adversaries and competitors, like Russia and China, in this hemisphere.

—Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–VT)

 Senate Floor, May 25, 2017

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