LPO asked Senators about a bipartisan bill introduced on May 21st by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act would end the six-decade US trade embargo on Cuba. Both Senators represent states where normalized trade relations with Cuba would benefit significant agriculture sectors.
"I'd be a little bit worried about anything that decreased pressure on the regime itself," said Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) when asked by LPO about his GOP colleagues legislation. "We want to keep pressure up on the regime by making life difficult for them."
Asked if he agreed with the Trump administration's decision to add Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Hawley told LPO, "I think those kind of designations and anything that targets, that ratchets up political pressure on the government of Cuba I think is a good thing. "
"I'm not sure if the US can do something directly," Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told LPO, "but it is clear that the Cuban people want something better than what they have, and at some point you know the days of this regime are numbered. "
Cassidy told LPO that he supports easing the embargo over lifting it outright. "I support making it easier by a variety of mechanisms making it easier to bring in food and medications because that meets basic human needs," said Cassidy.
A hard "No" is all LPO got from Cuban American Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) when asked if he supported lifting the Cuba embargo. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the other Cuban American Senator in the Republican caucus, agrees with Cruz. Ditto from Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) who replied with a hard "No" when asked the same by LPO on Tuesday.
"I've been to Cuba," Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) told LPO. "That government needs to go but the people need to get rid of it. Cuba could be a gem of the whole area." Like the other Republican hardliners in the Senate, Shelby opposes lifting the embargo because he says it will empower the Cuban government.
"We should not have cooperated with the Castro regime," Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) told LPO on Tuesday. "We need to do everything we can to support the Cuban people, not the corrupt, dictatorial, repressive, brutal, communist regime that's there. It's not easy. Not at all. But my heart is with the Cuban people yearning to be free and I'm highly concerned about it. "
"I think what the US should do is get the internet back restored because apparently the Cuban government has cut off the Internet," Portman told LPO on Tuesday, "whatever we can do to help with wi-fi ... I don't know technically how we do it, but I'm told there's a way to be helpful. "
"And I think we should consider additional sanctions to people who are proven to have abused people's human rights in this process," Portman added.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) echoed Johnson's premonition of government crackdown. "In Cuba right now," Blunt told LPO, "people have decide they are willing to take the risk that they're taking to step up and I think the United States should be very forward-leaning in encouraging them and discouraging the likely- repressive activities that the Cuban government will continue to follow. "
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