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Democratic and Republican Senators Reject Biden’s Decision to Lift Cuba Restrictions

Senadores demócratas y republicanos rechazan la decisión de Biden de levantar restricciones a Cuba

Available: Español

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Several senators on Monday rejected the measures to reopen Cuba announced by President Biden, including the reestablishment of flights, the end of the limit on remittances, and the resumption of a family reunification program.

Among the senators who condemned Biden’s actions were Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, a Democrat, as well as Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, all of Cuban origin.

In a statement, Menendez rejected Biden’s decision to reinstate authorization for some types of travel that his predecessor —Republican Donald Trump (2017-2021)— had restricted.

Biden will allow travel by groups of Americans intended to make contact with the Cuban people, known in English as “people to people travel,” but individual visits of this kind will remain prohibited.

In Menendez’s view, such travel is tantamount to regular tourism, which is officially prohibited for U.S. citizens because of the economic embargo that has weighed on the island since 1962.

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Menendez said that those who think that increased travel will serve to promote democracy in Cuba are simply refusing to acknowledge reality.

“For years,” he added, “the United States foolishly eased travel restrictions on the grounds that millions of U.S. dollars would bring freedom and nothing changed. And as I warned then, the regime laughed at any promise to loosen its iron grip on the Cuban people, and we ended up helping to fund the machinery behind its continued oppression.”

The harsh words of Menendez, of the same party as Biden, are a blow to the Administration not only because he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but also because he is one of the most influential figures in the Democratic Party in terms of Cuba policy.

Republican Marco Rubio speculated on Twitter that Biden may have taken these measures in reaction to threats from the Cuban government, with which he held a dialogue on migration in Washington last April.

“The regime in Cuba threatened Biden with mass migration and has sympathizers within the administration and the result is that today we see the first steps to return to Obama’s failed policies on Cuba,” Rubio said.

Republican Ted Cruz, one of the Texas senators, also alluded to the Cuba policies of former President Barack Obama (2009-2017) to attack Biden, who was his vice president.

“A cornerstone of the Biden Administration is to appease criminal regimes around the world,” Cruz said on Twitter.

The policy change comes after an internal review within the Biden Administration that has taken months.

The measures announced Monday will take effect in the coming weeks, a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters.

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