Speeches And Statements
July 26, 2001

LIFT THE UNITED STATES EMBARGO ON CUBA -- HON. RON PAUL (Extensions of Remarks - July 26, 2001)

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Thursday, July 26, 2001

  • Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, encouraged in part by a recent resolution passed by the Texas State Legislature, I rise again this Congress to introduce my bill to lift the United States Embargo on Cuba.

  • On June 29, 2001, the Texas state legislature adopted a resolution calling for an end to U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba. Lawmakers emphasized the failure of sanctions to remove Castro from power, and the unwillingness of other nations to respect the embargo. One Texas Representative stated:

  • ``We have a lot of rice and agricultural products, as well as high-tech products, that would be much cheaper for Cuba to purchase from Texas. All that could come through the ports of Houston and Corpus Christi.'' I wholeheartedly support this resolution, and I have introduced similar federal legislation in past years to lift all trade, travel, and telecommunications restrictions with Cuba. I only wish Congress understood the simple wisdom expressed in Austin, so that we could end the harmful and ineffective trade sanctions that serve no national purpose.

  • I oppose economic sanctions for two very simple reasons. First, they don't work as effective foreign policy. Time after time, from Cuba to China to Iraq, we have failed to unseat despotic leaders by refusing to trade with the people of those nations. If anything, the anti-American sentiment aroused by sanctions often strengthens the popularity of such leaders, who use America as a convenient scapegoat to divert attention from their own tyranny. History clearly shows that free and open trade does far more to liberalize oppressive governments than trade wars. Economic freedom and political freedom are inextricably linked--when people get a taste of goods and information from abroad, they are less likely to tolerate a closed society at home. So while sanctions may serve our patriotic fervor, they mostly harm innocent citizens and do nothing to displace the governments we claim as enemies.

  • Second, sanctions simply hurt American industries, particularly agriculture. Every market we close to our nation's farmers is a market exploited by foreign farmers. China, Russia, the middle east, North Korea, and Cuba all represent huge markets for our farm products, yet many in Congress favor current or proposed trade restrictions that prevent our farmers from selling to the billions of people in
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    these ares. The department of Agriculture estimates that Iraq alone represents a $1 billion market for American farm goods. Given our status as one of the world's largest agricultural producers, why would we ever choose to restrict our exports? The only beneficiaries of our sanctions policies are our foreign competitors.

  • Still, support for sanctions continues in Congress. The House International Relations committee last week considered legislation that will extend existing economic sanctions against Iran and Libya for another 5 years. While I certainly oppose this legislation, I did agree with the

  • I certainly understand the emotional feelings many Americans have toward nations such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Cuba. Yet we must not let our emotions overwhelm our judgment in foreign policy matters, because ultimately human lives are at stake. For example, 10 years of trade sanctions against Iraq, not to mention aggressive air patrols and even bombings, have not ended Saddam Hussein's rule. If anything, the political situation has worsened, while the threat to Kuwait remains. The sanctions have, however, created suffering due to critical shortages of food and medicine among the mostly poor inhabitants of Iraq. So while the economic benefits of trade are an important argument against sanctions, we must also consider the humanitarian argument. Our sanctions policies undermine America's position as a humane nation, bolstering the common criticism that we are a bully with no respect for people outside our borders. Economic common sense, self-interested foreign policy goals, and humanitarian ideals all point to the same conclusion: Congress should work to end economic sanctions against all nations immediately.

  • The legislation I introduce today is representative of true free trade in that while it opens trade, it prohibits the U.S. Taxpayer from being compelled to subsidize the United States government, the Cuban government or individuals or entities that choose to trade with Cuban citizens.

  • I submit for inclusion in the record, a copy of the Sense of Congress Resolution passed in Austin in late June.


    Whereas, The relationship between the United States and Cuba has long been marked by tension and confrontation; further heightening this hostility is the 40-year-old United States trade embargo against the island nation that remains the longest-standing embargo in modern history; and

    Whereas, Cuba imports nearly a billion dollars' worth of food every year, including approximately 1,100,000 tons of wheat, 420,000 tons of rice, 37,000 tons of poultry, and 60,000 tons of dairy products; these amounts are expected to grow significantly in coming years as Cuba slowly recovers from the severe economic recession it has endured following the withdrawal of subsidies from the former Soviet Union in the last decade; and

    Whereas, Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Texas, and this state ranks among the top five states in overall value of agricultural exports at more than $3 billion annually; thus, Texas is ideally positioned to benefit from the market opportunities that free trade with Cuba would provide; rather than depriving Cuba of agricultural products, the United States embargo succeeds only in driving sales to competitors in other countries that have no such restrictions; and

    Whereas, In recent years, Cuba has developed important pharmaceutical products, namely, a new meningitis B vaccine that has virtually eliminated the disease in Cuba; such products have the potential to protect Americans against diseases that continue to threaten large populations around the world; and

    Whereas, Cuba's potential oil reserves have attracted the interest of numerous other countries who have been helping Cuba develop its existing wells and search for new reserves; Cuba's oil output has increased more than 400 percent over the last decade; and

    Whereas, The United States' trade, financial, and travel restrictions against Cuba hinder Texas' export of agricultural and food products, its ability to import critical energy products, the treatment of illnesses experienced by Texans, and the right of Texans to travel freely; now, therefore, be it