This week a Department of Transportation appropriations bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives that would thwart the normalization process that President Obama and the Cuban government have been pursuing. Tacked onto the appropriations bill are provisions that would prevent the US government from using any funds to recertify airlines and cruise lines that travel to Cuba, thereby effectively preventing new travel to Cuba. By including these provisions in the DOT appropriations bill, which is viewed as critical legislation, its supporters are trying to insulate the proposed legislation from a presidential veto. This maneuver is a risky one that may backfire for the following reasons.
- A lot of momentum in favor of normalizing relations has built up since December 17, when the President announced the initiative
- US businesses have shown great interest in the possibilities that normalization would bring for them to tap into a new Cuban market
- The American people may be tiring of paralyzing political actions
- Recent surveys show that a majority of Cuban-Americans, as well as a majority of Americans in general, support retraction of the embargo.
- Pope Francis brokered the agreements made by President Obama and President Castro to pursue normalization, and the Pope is coming to visit both Cuba and the US in a few months
- Senator Menendez, one of the most outspoken advocates for maintaining the embargo, is facing his own battle now that he has been indicted, probably reducing his power to affect the dialogue
Co-authored by Lawrence Diamond and Jose Aquino
Jose A. Aquino