September 1, 2006
Updated CRS Report: Cuba: Issues for the 109th Congress
From the summary: Cuba has remained a hard-line communist state under Fidel Castro for more than 47 years, but Fidel’s July 31, 2006, announcement that he was ceding political power to his brother Raúl “for several weeks” in order to recover from surgery could the beginning of a political transition, whether Fidel returns to power or not. Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions, which have been significantly tightened by the Bush Administration. Another component of U.S. policy consists of support measures for the Cuban people, including private
humanitarian donations and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba. While there appears to be broad agreement on the overall objective of U.S. policy toward Cuba — to help bring democracy and respect for human rights to the island — there are several schools of thought on how to achieve that objective: some advocate maximum pressure on Cuba until reforms are enacted; others argue for lifting some U.S. sanctions judged to be hurting the Cuban people; and still others for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations.
In the 109th Congress, legislative initiatives include six human rights resolutions: House-passed H.Con.Res. 81, H.Res. 193, and H.Res. 388; Senate passed S.Res. 140 and S.Res. 469; and H.Con.Res. 165. In addition, P.L. 109-102 funds Cuba democracy projects in FY2006, H.R. 5522 would fund FY2007 democracy projects, House-passed H.R. 2601 would authorize $5 million for scholarship and exchange programs, and S. 3769 would authorize assistance to facilitate a peaceful transition in Cuba.
With regard to sanctions, the House-passed FY2007 Treasury Department appropriations bill, H.R. 5576, prohibits funds from being used to implement tightened restrictions on financing for agricultural exports to Cuba; the President has threatened to veto the bill if it weakens Cuba sanctions. Other initiatives include H.Con.Res. 206 (suspension of sanctions after Hurricane Dennis); H.R. 208 and H.R. 579 (overall sanctions); S. 894 and H.R. 1814 (travel); H.R. 2617 (family visits); H.R. 3064 (educational travel); H.R. 1339 and S. 634 (cash in advance for U.S. agricultural sales); and H.R. 719 and S. 328 (facilitation of agricultural sales). Other measures have provisions on Cuba’s trademark registrations (H.R. 719, S. 328, H.R. 3372, S. 1604, H.R. 1689 and S. 69); Cuba broadcasting (P.L. 109-108, S. 600, H.R. 2601, H.R. 5522, and H.R. 5672); anti-drug cooperation (H.R. 5522); U.S. fugitives in Cuba (H.R. 2601, H.R. 332); sanctions related to Cuba’s offshore oil development (H.R. 5292, S. 2682, S. 2795); authorization for participation in Cuba’s offshore oil development (H.R. 5353, S. 2787); support for U.S. diplomats in Cuba (H.Con.Res. 428); repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act (H.R. 5670); and travel related to the sale of agricultural and medical goods to Cuba (H.R. 5384).
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