Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress
Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th
Congress
Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs
July 31, 2014
Congressional Research Service
7-5700
www.crs.gov
R43024
Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress
Summary
Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s
political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was
characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a
second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him
the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has
implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including
an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous
economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic
model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political
system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the
number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased
significantly over the past several years.
U.S. Policy
Congress has played an active role in shaping policy toward Cuba, including the enactment of
legislation strengthening and at times easing various U.S. economic sanctions. While U.S. policy
has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions, a second policy component
has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S. government-sponsored
broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí) and support for human rights and democracy projects. The
Obama Administration has continued this similar dual-track approach. While the Administration
has lifted all restrictions on family travel and remittances, eased restrictions on other types of
purposeful travel, and moved to reengage Cuba on several bilateral issues, it has also maintained
most U.S. economic sanctions in place. On human rights, the Administration welcomed the
release of many political prisoners in 2010 and 2011, but it has also criticized Cuba’s continued
harsh repression of political dissidents through thousands of short-term detentions and targeted
violence. The Administration has continued to call for the release of U.S. government
subcontractor Alan Gross, detained in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2011, and
maintains that Gross’s detention remains an impediment to more constructive relations.
Legislative Activity
Strong interest in Cuba is continuing in the 113th Congress with attention focused on economic
and political developments, especially the human rights situation, and U.S. policy toward the
island nation, including sanctions. The continued imprisonment of Alan Gross remains a key
concern for many Members. In March 2013, Congress completed action on full-year FY2013
appropriations with the approval of H.R. 933 (P.L. 113-6), and in January 2014, it completed
action on an FY2014 omnibus appropriations measure, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76)—both of these
measures continued funding for Cuba democracy and human rights projects and Cuba
broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). Both the House and Senate versions of the FY2014 Financial
Services and General Government appropriations measure, H.R. 2786 and S. 1371, had
provisions that would have tightened and eased travel restrictions respectively, but none of these
provisions were included in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 113-76).
For FY2015, the Administration is requesting $20 million for Cuba democracy projects (the same
being provided for FY2014) and $23.130 million for Cuba broadcasting. ($3.9 million less than in
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Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress
FY2014). The House Appropriation Committee reported out H.R. 5013 (H.Rept. 113-499), the
FY2015 State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Act, on June 27, 2014,
which would make available $20 million “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in
Cuba,” and provide not less than $28.266 million for Cuba broadcasting. The Senate
Appropriations Committee reported out its version of the appropriations measure, S. 2499
(S.Rept. 113-195), on June 19, 2014, which would provide up to $10 million for Cuba democracy
programs and an additional $5 million for programs to provide technical and other assistance to
support the development of private businesses in Cuba; the Senate measure would also provide
$23.130 million for Cuba broadcasting.
With regard to U.S. sanctions on Cuba, the House version of the FY2015 Financial Services and
General Government Appropriation bill, H.R. 5016 (H.Rept. 113-508), approved July 16, 2014,
has a provision that would prohibit the use of any funds in the Act “to approve, license, facilitate,
authorize or otherwise allow” people-to-people travel.
Several other initiatives on Cuba have been introduced in the 113th Congress. Several would lift
or ease U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba: H.R. 214 and H.R. 872 (overall embargo); H.R. 871
(travel); and H.R. 873 (travel and agricultural exports). H.R. 215 would allow Cubans to play
organized professional baseball in the United States. H.R. 1917 would lift the embargo and
extend nondiscriminatory trade treatment to the products of Cuba after Cuba releases Alan Gross
from prison. Identical initiatives, H.R. 778/S. 647 would modify a 1998 trademark sanction; in
contrast, H.R. 214, H.R. 872, H.R. 873, and H.R. 1917 each have a provision that would repeal
the sanction. H.Res. 121 would honor the work of Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez. H.Res. 262
would call for the immediate extradition or rendering of all U.S. fugitives from justices in Cuba.
This report will be updated periodically during the 113th Congress. For additional information, see
CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances.
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Contents
Recent Developments ...................................................................................................................... 1
Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 2
Cuba’s Political and Economic Situation......................................................................................... 4
Brief Historical Background...................................................................................................... 4
Political Conditions ................................................................................................................... 5
Human Rights Conditions ................................................................................................... 7
Economic Conditions and Reform Efforts .............................................................................. 12
Cuba’s Foreign Relations ........................................................................................................ 16
North Korean Ship Incident .............................................................................................. 20
U.S. Policy Toward Cuba............................................................................................................... 23
Background on U.S.-Cuban Relations ..................................................................................... 23
Clinton Administration’s Easing of Sanctions................................................................... 24
Bush Administration’s Tightening of Sanctions ................................................................ 24
Obama Administration Policy ................................................................................................. 25
Debate on the Direction of U.S. Policy ................................................................................... 29
Issues in U.S.-Cuban Relations...................................................................................................... 30
U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances .......................................................................... 30
U.S. Agricultural Exports and Sanctions ................................................................................. 33
Trademark Sanction ................................................................................................................. 35
U.S. Funding to Support Democracy and Human Rights........................................................ 37
Oversight of U.S. Democracy Assistance to Cuba ............................................................ 41
Imprisonment of USAID Subcontractor since December 2009 ........................................ 42
Radio and TV Marti ................................................................................................................. 45
Funding for Cuba Broadcasting ........................................................................................ 46
Oversight of Radio and TV Martí ..................................................................................... 48
Terrorism Issues....................................................................................................................... 50
Migration Issues ...................................................................................................................... 52
Cuba Alters Its Policy Regarding Exit Permits ................................................................. 56
Anti-Drug Cooperation ............................................................................................................ 57
Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development .......................................................................................... 58
Cooperation on Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response .................................. 60
Cuban Spies ............................................................................................................................. 61
Cuban Five—Now Three .................................................................................................. 62
Legislative Initiatives in the 113th Congress .................................................................................. 64
Enacted Measures .................................................................................................................... 64
Additional Measures ................................................................................................................ 64
Figures
Figure 1. Provincial Map of Cuba ................................................................................................... 3
Figure 2. Cuba: Real GDP Growth (percentage), 2004-2013 ........................................................ 13
Figure 3. Cuban Exports by Country of Destination, 2012 ........................................................... 17
Figure 4. Cuban Imports by Country of Origin, 2012 ................................................................... 18
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Figure 5. U.S. Exports to Cuba, 2001-2013................................................................................... 34
Figure 6. Maritime Interdictions of Cubans by the U.S. Coast Guard, FY2002-FY2014 ............. 54
Appendixes
Appendix A. Selected Executive Branch Reports and Web Pages ................................................ 68
Appendix B. Earlier Developments in 2014 and 2013 .................................................................. 70
Contacts
Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 74
Acknowledgments ......................................................................................................................... 74
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Recent Developments
On July 28, 2014, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Ocean Maritime Management
Company, Ltd., the operator of the North Korean ship known as the Chong Chon Gang that was
interdicted by Panama in July 2013 after stopping in Cuba and found to be carrying a concealed
cargo of arms and related material. (See “North Korean Ship Incident” below.)
On July 16, 2014, the House passed (228-195) the FY2015 Financial Services and General
Government Appropriations Act, H.R. 5016 (H.Rept. 113-508), with two provisions related to
U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba. The first, in section 126, would prevent any funds in the Act
from being used for people-to-people travel. The second, in section 127, would require an
Administration report with specific information on family travel to Cuba since FY2007. (See
“U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances” below.)
On July 14, 2014, the State Department issued a statement condemning the detention of more
than 100 members of the Ladies in White human rights group seeking to commemorate the 20year anniversary of the loss of life when the Cuban government sank a hijacked tugboat as it
attempted to leave Cuba. (See “Obama Administration Policy” below.)
On July 9, 2014, the United States and Cuba held semi-annual migration talks in Washington,
D.C. to discuss implementation of the 1994 and 1995 migration accords. Both sides issued
positive statements that noted the issues covered. The State Department noted that the talks
included aviation security, search and rescue at sea, and visa processing, and that the United
States again called for the release of Alan Gross. (See “Migration Issues” below.)
On July 1, 2014, the independent Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and
National Reconciliation reported that there were 5,904 short-term detentions for political reasons
in the first half of 2014, far higher than the same period over the past several years. In June 2014,
the group also reported that there were 102 political prisoners in the country, not including 12
released on parole who are not allowed to leave the country. (See “Human Rights Conditions”
below.)
On June 30, 2014, the French bank BNP Paribas, SA (BNPP) agreed to plead guilty for violating
U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Iran, and Cuba by processing financial transactions involving those
countries through the U.S. financial system. The company agreed to pay $8.97 billion in
penalties, a record U.S fine. (For background on the settlement from the Department of Justice,
see: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/June/14-ag-686.html.)
On June 20, 2014, the State Department released its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report, with
Cuba remaining on the Tier 3 list of countries whose governments do not comply with the
minimum standards for combatting trafficking. The report also noted that Cuba had, for the first
time, reported concrete action against sex trafficking, and that the Cuban government maintained
that it would be amending its criminal code to ensure conformity with the 2000 United Nations
Trafficking in Persons Protocol. (See “Human Rights Conditions” below.)
On June 17, 2014, Florida International University (FIU) issued its 2014 poll on the Cuban
American community in Miami-Dade county regarding U.S. policy toward Cuba. The poll
showed a slight majority of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade county, 52%, opposed the embargo,
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and that 69% supported the lifting of travel restrictions for all Americans to travel to Cuba. (See
“Debate on the Direction of U.S. Policy” below.)
For developments earlier in 2014 and 2013, see Appendix B.
Introduction
Political and economic developments in Cuba and U.S. policy toward the island nation, located
just 90 miles from the United States, have been significant congressional concerns for many
years. Since the end of the Cold War, Congress has played an active role in shaping U.S. policy
toward Cuba, first with the enactment of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-484, Title
XVII) and then with the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-114).
Both of these measures strengthened U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba that had first been
imposed in the early 1960s, but the measures also provided roadmaps for a normalization of
relations dependent upon significant political and economic changes in Cuba. A decade ago,
Congress partially modified its sanctions-based policy toward Cuba when it enacted the Trade
Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-387, Title IX) allowing for
U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba that led to the United States becoming a major source for
Cuba’s food imports.
Over the past decade, much of the debate over U.S. policy in Congress has focused on U.S.
sanctions, especially over U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba. The George W. Bush Administration
initially liberalized U.S. family travel to Cuba in 2003, but subsequently tightened restrictions on
family and other categories of travel in 2004 because of Cuba’s crackdown on political dissidents.
In 2009, Congress took legislative action in an appropriations measure (P.L. 111-8) to ease
restrictions on family travel and travel for the marketing of agricultural exports, marking the first
congressional action easing Cuba sanctions in almost a decade. The Obama Administration took
further action in April 2009 by lifting all restrictions on family travel and on cash remittances by
family members to their relatives in Cuba and restarting semi-annual migration talks that had
been curtailed in 2004. In January 2011, the Administration announced the further easing of
restrictions on educational and religious travel to Cuba and on non-family remittances, and it also
expanded eligible airports in the United States authorized to serve licensed charter flights to and
from Cuba.
This report is divided into three major sections analyzing Cuba’s political and economic situation,
U.S. policy toward Cuba, and selected issues in U.S.-Cuban relations. The first section includes a
brief historical political background on Cuba; a discussion on the current political situation under
Raúl Castro, including human rights conditions; an examination of economic conditions and
policy changes that have occurred to date under Raúl Castro; and Cuba’s foreign relations. The
second section on U.S. policy provides a broad overview of U.S. policy historically through the
George W. Bush Administration and then a discussion of current policy under the Obama
Administration. It then provides a brief discussion on the general policy debate regarding the
direction of U.S. policy toward Cuba. The third section analyzes many of the key issues in U.S.Cuban relations that have been at the forefront of the U.S. policy debate on Cuba and have often
been the subject of legislative initiatives. While legislative initiatives are noted throughout the
report where appropriate, a final section of the report provides a listing of current bills and
resolutions introduced in the 113th Congress. An appendix also provides links to selected
executive branch reports and web pages on Cuba.
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Figure 1. Provincial Map of Cuba
Source: CRS.
Notes: This map shows 15 provinces and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud. See a current interactive provincial map of Cuba, showing municipalities and other
information, from Juventud Rebelde (Cuba), available at http://www.juventudrebelde.cu/multimedia/graficos/nueva-division-politico-administrativa/.
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Cuba’s Political and Economic Situation
Brief Historical Background1
Cuba did not become an independent nation until 1902. From its discovery by Columbus in 1492
until the Spanish-American War in 1898, Cuba was a Spanish colony. In the 19th century, the
country became a major sugar producer with slaves from Africa arriving in increasing numbers to
work the sugar plantations. The drive for independence from Spain grew stronger in the second
half of the 19th century, but it only came about after the United States entered the conflict when
the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor after an explosion of undetermined origin. In the
aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the United States ruled Cuba for four years until Cuba
was granted its independence in 1902. Nevertheless, the United States still retained the right to
intervene in Cuba to preserve Cuban independence and maintain stability in accordance with the
Platt Amendment2 that became part of the Cuban Constitution of 1901. The United States
subsequently intervened militarily three times between 1906 and 1921 to restore order, but in
1934, the Platt Amendment was repealed.
Cuba’s political system as an independent nation was often dominated by authoritarian figures.
Gerardo Machado (1925-1933), who served two terms as president, became increasingly
dictatorial until he was ousted by the military. A short-lived reformist government gave way to a
series of governments that were dominated behind the scenes by military leader Fulgencio Batista
until he was elected president in 1940. Batista was voted out of office in 1944 and was followed
by two successive presidents in a democratic era that ultimately became characterized by
corruption and increasing political violence. Batista seized power in a bloodless coup in 1952 and
his rule progressed into a brutal dictatorship. This fueled popular unrest and set the stage for Fidel
Castro’s rise to power.
Castro led an unsuccessful attack on military barracks in Santiago, Cuba, on July 26, 1953. He
was jailed, but subsequently freed and went into exile in Mexico where he formed the 26th of July
Movement. Castro returned to Cuba in 1956 with the goal of overthrowing the Batista
dictatorship. His revolutionary movement was based in the Sierra Maestra and joined with other
resistance groups seeking Batista’s ouster. Batista ultimately fled the country on January 1, 1959,
leading to more than 45 years of rule under Fidel Castro until he stepped down from power
provisionally in July 2006 because of poor health.
While Castro had promised a return to democratic constitutional rule when he first took power, he
instead moved to consolidate his rule, repress dissent, and imprison or execute thousands of
opponents. Under the new revolutionary government, Castro’s supporters gradually displaced
1
Portions of this background are drawn from U.S. Department of State, “Background Note: Cuba,” April 28, 2011. For
further background, see Cuba, A Country Study, ed. Rex A. Hudson, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress,
(Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002); “Country Profile: Cuba,” Federal Research Division,
Library of Congress, September 2006, available at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Cuba.pdf; Cuba, A Short
History, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge University Press, 1993); and Hugh Thomas, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom,
(New York, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1971).
2
U.S. Senator Orville Platt introduced an amendment to an army appropriation bill that was approved by both houses
and enacted into law in 1901.
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members of less radical groups. Castro moved toward close relations with the Soviet Union while
relations with the United States deteriorated rapidly as the Cuban government expropriated U.S.
properties (see “Background on U.S.-Cuban Relations” below). In April 1961, Castro declared
that the Cuban revolution was socialist, and in December 1961, he proclaimed himself to be a
Marxist-Leninist. Over the next 30 years, Cuba was a close ally of the Soviet Union and
depended on it for significant assistance until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
From 1959 until 1976, Castro ruled by decree. In 1976, however, the Cuban government enacted
a new Constitution setting forth the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) as the leading force in state
and society, with power centered in a Political Bureau headed by Fidel Castro. Cuba’s
Constitution also outlined national, provincial, and local governmental structures. Since then,
legislative authority has been vested in a National Assembly of People’s Power that meets twice
annually for brief periods. When the Assembly is not in session, a Council of State, elected by the
Assembly, acts on its behalf. According to Cuba’s Constitution, the president of the Council of
State is the country’s head of state and government. Executive power in Cuba is vested in a
Council of Ministers, also headed by the country’s head of state and government, that is, the
president of the Council of State.
Fidel Castro served as head of state and government through his position as president of the
Council of State from 1976 until February 2008. While he had provisionally stepped down from
power in July 2006 because of poor health, Fidel still officially retained his position as head of
state and government. National Assembly elections were held on January 20, 2008, and Fidel
Castro was once again among the candidates elected to the now 614-member legislative body.
(As in the past, voters were only offered a single slate of candidates.) On February 24, 2008, the
new Assembly was scheduled to select from among its ranks the members of the Council of State
and its president. Many observers had speculated that because of his poor health, Fidel would
choose not to be reelected as president of the Council of State, which would confirm his official
departure from heading the Cuban government. Statements from Castro himself in December
2007 hinted at his potential retirement. That proved true on February 19, 2008, when Fidel
announced that he would not accept the position as president of the Council of State, essentially
confirming his departure as titular head of the Cuban government.
Political Conditions
After Fidel stepped down from power, Cuba’s political succession from Fidel to Raúl Castro was
characterized by considerable stability. After two and one half years of provisionally serving as
president, Raúl Castro officially became Cuba’s president on February 24, 2008, when Cuba’s
legislature selected him as president of the 31-member Council of State.3
While it was not a surprise to observers for Raúl to succeed his brother Fidel officially as head of
government, the selection of José Ramón Machado Ventura as the Council of State’s first vice
president in February 2008 was a surprise. Born in 1930, Machado was part of the older
generation of so-called históricos of the 1959 Cuban revolution along with the Castro brothers
(Fidel Castro was born in August 1926, while Raúl Castro was born in June 1931). Described as a
3
For more on Cuba’s political succession, see CRS Report RS22742, Cuba’s Political Succession: From Fidel to Raúl
Castro. For background discussion of potential Cuban political scenarios envisioned in the aftermath of Fidel Castro’s
stepping down from power in 2006, see CRS Report RL33622, Cuba’s Future Political Scenarios and U.S. Policy
Approaches.
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hard-line communist party ideologue, Machado reportedly was a close friend and confident of
Raúl for many years.4 The position of first vice president of the Council of State is significant
because, according to the Cuban Constitution, the person holding the office is the official
successor to the president.
While Raúl Castro began implementing some economic reforms in 2008, there has been no
change to his government’s tight control over the political system and few observers expect there
to be, with the government backed up by a strong security apparatus. Under Raúl, who served as
defense minister from the beginning of the Cuban revolution until 2008, the Cuban military has
played an increasing role in government with several key military officers and confidants of Raúl
serving as ministers.
The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) held its sixth congress in April 2011. While the party
concentrated on making changes to Cuba’s economic model, some political changes also
occurred. As expected, Fidel was officially replaced by Raúl as first secretary of the PCC, and
First Vice President José Ramón Machado became the party’s second secretary. The party’s
Political Bureau or Politburo was reduced from 23 to 15 members, with 3 new members, Marino
Murrillo, Minister of Economy Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, and the first secretary of the party in
Havana, Mercedes Lopez Acea. The party’s Central Committee also was reduced from 125 to 115
members, with about 80 of those being new members of the committee.
At the April 2011 party congress, Raúl Castro proposed two five-year term limits for top positions
in the party and in the government, calling for systematic rejuvenation, a change that was
confirmed by a January 2012 national PCC conference. Cuba’s revolutionary leadership has been
criticized by many observers for remaining in party and government positions far too long, and
for not passing leadership opportunities to a younger generation. Some observers had expected
leadership changes and more significant reforms at the January 2012 PCC conference. While this
did not occur, the PCC approved a resolution by which its Central Committee would be allowed
to replace up to 20% of its 115 members within its five-year mandate.5
On February 3, 2013, Cuba held elections for over 600 members of the National Assembly of
People’s Power, the national legislature, as well as over 1,600 provincial government
representatives, both for five-year terms. Under Cuba’s one-party system, the overwhelming
majority of those elected are PCC members. Critics maintain that elections in Cuba are a sham
and entirely controlled by the PCC.
The new National Assembly met on February 24, 2013, to select the next president of the Council
of State, Cuba’s head of government. As expected, Raúl Castro was selected for a second five
year-term as president (until February 2018, when Raúl will be 86 years old), but Castro also
indicated that this would be his last term in conformity with the new two-term limit for top
officials. Most significantly, First Vice President José Ramón Machado, 82 years old, was
replaced by 52-year old Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, who was serving as one of the Council of
State’s vice presidents. Díaz-Canel’s appointment as the official constitutional successor to
President Castro represents a move toward bringing about generational change in Cuba’s political
4
Daniel Dombey, Richard Lapper, and Andrew Ward, “A Family Business, Cuban-Americans Look Beyond the
Havana Handover,” Financial Times, February 27, 2008.
5
Juan O. Tamayo, “Cuban Communists OK Term Limits for Party and Government Officials,” Miami Herald, January
29, 2012, and “Cuba’s Communists Meet to Update Party, Not Much Buzz on Street,” Miami Herald, January 28,
2012; Patricia Grogg, “Cuba: Party Aims for Efficient, Inclusive Socialism,” Inter Press Service, February 1, 2012.
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system. Díaz-Canel became a member of the Politburo in 2003 and also held top PCC positions in
the provinces of Villa Clara and Holguín. He became education minister in 2009 until he was
tapped to be a vice president of the Council of State. Díaz-Canel has been described in media
reports as an experienced manager with good relations with the military and as someone that
worked his way up through the party.6
In another significant move in February 2013, the National Assembly appointed Esteban Lazo
Hernández as the new president of Cuba’s National Assembly. Lazo, who is the Cuban
government’s highest ranking official of Afro-Cuban descent, replaced long-time National
Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón, who was not a candidate in this year’s National Assembly
elections. Lazo has held top party positions in several provinces and has served as a vice
president of the Council of State.
While generational change already appears to be underway in Cuba’s political system, this does
not signify an easing of Cuba’s tightly controlled regime. In speaking on the 60th anniversary of
the start of the Cuban revolution on July 26, 2013, President Castro asserted that a generational
transfer of power had already begun, stating that “there is a slow and orderly transfer of the
leadership of the revolution to the new generations.”7 Some observers maintain that while the
leadership transition in 2018 (or earlier, given that Raúl Castro’s is 82 years old) will likely be
smooth, there is a greater likelihood for a growth in factionalism within the system without Castro
at the helm.8
On September 15, 2013, Cuba’s Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter
maintaining that, just as economic changes were occurring, Cuba’s political order also needed to
be updated. The bishops maintained that there should be the right of diversity with respect to
thought, creativity, and the search for truth, and maintained that out this diversity arises the need
for dialogue among diverse social groups.9 In his March 2012 pastoral visit to Cuba, Pope
Benedict VI had urged Cubans “to build a renewed and open society.”10
Human Rights Conditions
The Cuban government has a poor record on human rights, with the government sharply
restricting freedoms of expression, association, assembly, movement, and other basic rights since
the early years of the Cuban revolution. The government has continued to harass members of the
Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) human rights group that was formed in 2003 by the female
relatives of the so-called “group of 75” dissidents arrested that year in a massive crackdown (for
more, see text box below). Two Cuban political prisoners conducting hunger strikes have died in
recent years, Orlando Zapata Tamayo in February 2010 and Wilman Villar Mendoza in January
2012. Tamayo died after an 85-day hunger strike that he had initiated to protest inhumane
6
“Castro Dynasty Capped at 59 Years,” Latin American Weekly Report, February 28, 2013; Damien Cave and Victoria
Burnett, “As Castro Era Drifts to Close, A New Face Steps in at No. 2,” New York Times, February 28, 2013; Marc
Frank, “Castro Successor Lacks Charisma But Is Experienced Manager,” Reuters, February 26, 2013.
7
Marc Frank, “Cuba’s Raúl Castro Promises Succession Has Started,” Reuters, July 26, 2013.
8
For example, see “Cuba Country Report,” Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), September 2013, p. 3.
9
Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Cuba, “Carta Pastoral de los Obispos Católicos de Cuba, La Esperanza No
Defrauda,” (issued September 15, 2013), available at http://www.iglesiacubana.org/index.php?option=
com_phocadownload&view=file&id=56&Itemid=108.
10
See “March 2012 Visit of Pope Benedict” in CRS Report R41617, Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress.
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conditions in Cuba’s prisons. Villar Mendoza died following a 50-day hunger strike after he was
convicted of “contempt” of authority and sentenced to four years in prison.
Amnesty International (AI) published a report in March 2012 maintaining that “the Cuban
government wages a permanent campaign of harassment and short-term detentions of political
opponents to stop them from demanding respect for civil and political rights.” The report
maintained that the release of dozens of political prisoners in 2011 “did not herald a change in
human rights policy.” AI asserted that “the vast majority of those released were forced into exile,
while in Cuba the authorities were determined to contain the dissidence and government critics
with new tactics,” including intimidation, harassment, surveillance, and “acts of repudiation,” or
demonstrations by government supporters targeting government critics.11
AI has called attention to several prisoners of conscience12 in Cuba. These currently include Iván
Fernández Depestre, convicted of “dangerousness” (a pre-emptive measure defined as the special
proclivity of a person to commit crimes) in early August 2013 after participating in a peaceful
protest and sentenced to three years in prison; and brothers Alexeis, Django, and Vianco Vargas
Martín, members of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), who were detained in late 2012 in
Santiago and convicted in June 2014 after a summary trial in which they were charged with
“public disorder of a continuous nature.” AI believes their arrest and detention is in response to
their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and intended to intimidate other government
critics; there three were supposed to be sentenced on July 1, but the sentencing was postponed.13
AI has also reported on other cases of arbitrary detention by the Cuban government, including the
continued detention since March 2012 of Ladies in White member Sonia Garro Alfonso and her
husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González (also see text box below on the Ladies in White).14
Beyond AI’s more narrow definition of prisoners of conscience, the Cuban government holds a
larger number of political prisoners, generally defined as a person imprisoned for his or her
political activities. While the Cuban government released numerous political prisoners in recent
years, including more than 125 released in 2010-2011 with the help of Cuba’s Catholic Church
(down from more than 200 estimated at the beginning of 2010) the number of political prisoners
has reportedly increased since 2012, according to the Havana-based Cuban Commission on
Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN). In June 2014, the group estimated that
Cuba held at least 102 political prisoners, not including a dozen individuals arrested in Cuba’s
2003 crackdown that were released on parole, but are prevented from leaving the country. This is
up from an estimated 50 political prisoners in April 2012.15
Short-term detentions for political reasons have increased significantly over the past several
years, a reflection of the government’s change of tactics in repressing dissent. The CCDHRN
reports that there were at least 2,074 such detentions in 2010, 4,123 in 2011, 6,602 in 2012, and
6,424 in 2013. The number spiked in March 2012 surrounding the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to
11
Amnesty International, Routine Repression, Political Short-Term Detentions and Harassment in Cuba, March 2012.
AI defines prisoners of conscience as those jailed because of their political, religious or other conscientiously-held
beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, color, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other
status, provided they have neither used nor advocated violence.
13
AI, “Sentencing of Three Brothers Postponed,” Urgent Action, July 15, 2014.
14
Information drawn from Amnesty International’s webpage on Cuba at http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba.
15
Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional (CCDHRN), “Lista Parcial de Sancionados o
Procesados por Motivos Políticos en Cuba,” 23 de junio de 2014.
12
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Cuba. It also spiked in December 2013 when there were at least 1,123 short-term detentions for
political reasons. From January through June 2014, the number of short-term detentions for
political reasons amounted to 5,904 detentions, far higher than the same period over the past
several years. 16
Ladies in White
A human rights group known as the Ladies in White (Las Damas de Blanco) was formed in April 2003 by the wives,
mothers, daughters, sisters, and aunts of the members of the “group of 75” dissidents arrested a month earlier in
Cuba’s human rights crackdown. The group conducts peaceful protests calling for the unconditional release of
political prisoners. Dressed in white, its members attend Mass each Sunday at St. Rita’s Church in Havana and then
walk along Fifth Avenue to a nearby park. The group has faced considerable government-orchestrated harassment and
repression over the years, particularly when members have staged protest in other parts of Havana or other parts of
the country. Both Amnesty International and the Department of State at various junctures have called for the end of
harassment and attacks against the human rights group. A founding member and leader of the Ladies in White, Laura
Pollán, died unexpectedly in a Havana hospital from respiratory complications on October 14, 2011.
Amnesty International issued an urgent action appeal in July 2012, calling on Cuban authorities to either charge three
protestors—Ladies in White Niurka Luque Álvarez and Sonia Garro Alfonso, and Sonia’s husband Ramón Alejandro
Muñoz González—or release them. All three were first detained in March 2012 after the two women participated in
a peaceful commemoration of the anniversary of Cuba’s March 2003 human rights crackdown. Luque Álvarez
ultimately was released in October 5, 2012, while both Garro Alfonso and her husband continue to be incarcerated.
With Cuba’s new travel policy, current Ladies in White leader Berta Soler traveled abroad to Europe and the United
States for almost three months beginning in March 2013. Soler traveled to several European countries, including
Belgium to accept the European Parliament’s Sakharov prize that the human rights group was awarded in 2005, and
also visited Washington DC, and Miami. After her return to Cuba, Soler said that she would like to broaden the
movement and establish delegations around the island to increase the group’s membership. The group reportedly has
a membership of around 300 nationwide.
On July 14, 2014, the State Department condemned the detention of more than 100 Ladies in White members
attempting to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the loss of life when the Cuban government sank a tugboat
known as the “13 de Marzo” as it attempted to leave Cuba.
Websites: http://www.damasdeblanco.com/, http://www.damasdeblanco.org
Internationally known Cuban democracy and human rights activist Oswaldo Payá was killed in a
car accident in July 2012 in the eastern province of Granma along with another Cuban human
rights activist Harold Cepero. Payá, whose death prompted expressions of sympathy from around
the world, is probably best known for his work founding the Varela Project in 1996.17 Two
Europeans accompanying Payá were also in the crash: Jens Aron Modig, president of the Swedish
Christian Democrats youth wing, who was a passenger; and Angel Carromero Barrios, a leader of
the Spanish Popular Party’s youth organization, who was driving. Carromero was convicted in
October 2012 of vehicular manslaughter for speeding and sentenced to four years in prison; after
diplomatic efforts by Spain, he was released in late December 2012 to serve the rest of his term in
Spain. In early March 2013, however, Carromero maintained in an interview with the Washington
Post that the car he was driving was struck from behind just before the accident and that he was
heavily drugged when he admitted to driving recklessly.18 Payá’s daughter has called for the
United Nations to conduct an independent investigation into the crash. Modig maintains that he
16
CCDHRN, “Cuba: Algunos Actos de Represión Política en el Mes de Junio de 2014” 1 de julio de 2014.
The project collected thousands of signatures supporting a national plebiscite for political reform in accordance with
a provision of the Cuban Constitution.
18
Peter Finn, “Account of Cuban Crash Adds to Mystery,” Washington Post, March 6, 2013; “I Only Wish They Were
Nightmares, and Not Memories,” (Editorial, Opinion) Washington Post, March 6, 2013.
17
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was asleep at the time of the accident and does not remember any details.19 In July 2012, the U.S.
Senate approved S.Res. 525 (Nelson), calling for an impartial third-party investigation of the
crash. The U.S. Department of State issued a statement on March 28, 2013, calling for an
independent international investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Payá and
Cepero.20
Over the past several years, numerous independent Cuban blogs have been established that are
often critical of the Cuban government. The Cuban government has responded with its own team
of official bloggers to counter and disparage the independent bloggers.21 Cuban blogger Yoani
Sánchez has received considerable international attention since late 2007 for her website,
Generación Y, which includes commentary critical of the Cuban government. (Sánchez’s website
is available at http://generacionyen.wordpress.com/, and has links to numerous other independent
newspaper 14ymedioCuban blogs and websites.) In May 2014, Sánchez launched an independent
digital newspaper in Cuba, available on the Internet (http://www.14ymedio.com/), distributed
through a variety of methods in Cuba, including CDs, USB flash drives, and DVDs. In the 113th
Congress, H.Res. 121 (Hastings, FL), introduced in March 2013, would honor Sánchez “for her
ongoing efforts to challenge political, economic, and social repression by the Castro regime.”
While the human rights situation in Cuba remains poor, the country has made some advances in
recent years. In 2008, Cuba lifted a ban on Cubans staying in hotels that previously had been
restricted to foreign tourists in a policy that had been pejoratively referred to as “tourist
apartheid.” In recent years, as the government has enacted limited economic reforms, it has been
much more open to debate on economic issues. The Catholic Church, which played a prominent
role in the release of political prisoners in 2010, has been active in broadening the debate on
social and economic issues through its publications Palabra Nueva (New World) and Espacio
Laical (Space for Laity). In June 2014, the two editors of Espacio Laical, Roberto Veiga and
Lenier Gonzalez, resigned from their positions, maintaining that they had been pressured from
inside the Church from those who did not want the Church to be involved in politics, but on July
1, 2014, they announced that they would launch a new online forum in the future known as Cuba
Posible.22
In January 2013, Cuba took the significant step of eliminating its long-standing policy of
requiring an exit permit and letter of invitation for Cubans to travel abroad (see “Cuba Alters Its
Policy Regarding Exit Permits” below). The change has allowed prominent dissidents and human
rights activists to travel abroad and return to Cuba. However, those Cubans subject to ongoing
legal proceedings, including political prisoners who have been released on parole, have been
restricted from traveling abroad.23
19
“Cuba, Aron Medig Reitera en una Reunión con la Hija de Oswaldo Payá que No Recuerda Nada del Accidente,”
European Press, March 13, 2013.
20
U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, March 28, 2013.
21
Committee to Protect Journalists, “After the Black Spring, Cuba’s New Repression,” July 6, 2011.
22
Marc Frank, “Cuba’s Catholic Church May Restrict Rare Forum for Open Debate,” Reuters, June 16, 2014; Daniel
Trotta and Rosa Tania Valdés, “Cuban Editors, Pressured to Leave Magazine, Announce New Venture,” Reuters, July
1, 2014.
23
Fabiola Santiago, “Despite ‘Reforms” Some Cubans Aren’t Free to Travel,” Miami Herald, March 12, 2013; U.S.
Department of State, “Cuban Compliance with the Migration Accords, (October 2013 to April 2014),” Report to
Congress, May 7, 2014.
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Prominent dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe died in Spain on September 23, 2013, after
battling chronic liver disease and cancer. Espinosa had been imprisoned in March 2003 as one of
the “group of 75” dissidents, but was released on medical parole in November 2004. The
Department of State issued a statement after Espinosa Chepe’s death maintaining that “he was a
tireless champion for improving economic policy and human rights in Cuba” and that “he
remained optimistic that the country he loved would experience economic prosperity and
democratic governance.”24 Espinosa Chepe traveled to Madrid in March 2013 for medical
treatment. He is survived by Miriam Leiva, a longtime human rights activist and independent
journalist who helped found the Ladies in White.
In June 2014, the State Department released its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. As it has
since 2003, Cuba remained on the Tier 3 list of countries whose governments do not comply with
the minimum standards for combatting trafficking against Cuba. The report noted, however, that
for the first time Cuba released and reported concrete action against sex trafficking, and that the
Cuban government maintained that it would be amending its criminal code to ensure conformity
with the 2000 United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol.
Human Rights Reporting on Cuba
Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights in the Republic of Cuba, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba.
AI Annual Report 2013, section on Cuba, http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba/report-2013.
AI, “Routine Repression, Political Short-Term Detentions and Harassment in Cuba,” March 2012, available at
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/007/2012/en/647943e7-b4eb-4d39-a5e3-ea061edb651c/
amr250072012en.pdf.
Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (Comisión Cubana de Derechos
Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional, CCDHRN), the independent Havana-based human rights organization
produces a monthly report on short-term detentions for political reasons.
CCDHRN, “Cuba: Algunos Actos de Represion Politica en el Mes de Junio de 2014,” July 1, 2014, available at
http://www.miscelaneasdecuba.net/ckfinder/userfiles/files/OVERVIEW%20JUNIO%202014.pdf
CCDHRN, “Lisa Parcial de Condenados o Procesados por Motivos Politicos en Cuba,” June 23, 2014, available at
http://www.unpacu.org/wp-content/uploads/PRESOS-POLITICOS-JUNIO-2014.pdf
Human Rights Watch (HRW), http://www.hrw.org/en/americas/cuba.
HRW’s 2014 World Report maintains that “the Cuban government continues to repress individuals and groups
who criticize the government or call for basic human rights,” available at http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014/
country-chapters/cuba.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Annual Report 2013, April 23, 2014, Chapter IV has a
section on Cuba, available at: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/annual/2013/docs-en/AnnualReport-Chap4Cuba.pdf.
U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2013, February 27, 2014, available at
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/220646.pdf. According to the report, Cuba’s “principal human rights
abuses were abridgement of the rights of citizens to change the government and the use of government threats,
extrajudicial psychical violence, intimidation, mobs, harassment, and detentions to prevent free expression and
peaceful assembly.”
24
U.S. Department of State, “Death of Cuban Economist and Activist Oscar Espinosa Chepe,” Press Statement,
September 23, 2013.
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Economic Conditions and Reform Efforts
Cuba’s economy is largely state-controlled, with the government owning most means of
production and employing almost 80% of the workforce. Key sectors of the economy that
generate foreign exchange include the export of professional services (largely medical personnel
to Venezuela); tourism, which has grown significantly since the mid-1990s, with 2.8 million
tourists visiting Cuba in 2013 (below a goal of 3 million tourists); nickel mining, with the
Canadian mining company Sherritt International involved in a joint investment project; and a
biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector that supplies the domestic healthcare system and has
fostered a significant export industry. Remittances from relatives living abroad, especially from
the United States, have also become an important source of hard currency, and are estimated to be
between $1.4 billion and $2 billion annually. The once-dominant sugar industry has declined
significantly over the past 20 years; in 1990, Cuba produced 8.4 million tons of sugar while in
2014 it produced just 1.6 million tons.25
Cuba is highly dependent on Venezuela for its oil needs. In 2000, the two countries signed a
preferential oil agreement that provides Cuba with some 100,000 barrels of oil per day, about
two-thirds of its consumption. Cuba’s goal of becoming a net oil exporter with the development
of its offshore deepwater oil reserves was set back significantly in 2012 when three exploratory
oil drills were unsuccessful. (For more, see “Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development” below.) The
setback in Cuba’s offshore oil development combined with political and economic difficulties in
Venezuela have raised concerns among Cuban officials about the security of the support received
from Venezuela. Cuba is increasingly focusing on the need to diversify its trading partners and to
seek alternative energy suppliers in the case of a cutback or cutoff of Venezuelan oil.26
Over the years, Cuba has expressed pride for the nation’s accomplishments in health and
education. According to the U.N. Development Program’s 2014 Human Development Report,
Cuba is ranked 44 out of 187 countries worldwide and is characterized as having “very high
human development,” with life expectancy in Cuba in 2013 at 79.3 years and adult literacy was
estimated at almost 100%. The World Bank estimates that Cuba’s per capita income level was in
the upper middle income range ($4,086-$12,615) in 2012 (latest available), higher than a number
of countries in the Americas.27
In terms of economic growth, Cuba experienced severe economic deterioration from 1989 to
1993, with an estimated decline in gross domestic product ranging from 35% to 50% when the
Soviet Union collapsed and Russian financial assistance to Cuba practically ended. Since then,
however, there has been considerable improvement. From 1994 to 2000, as Cuba moved forward
with some limited market-oriented economic reforms, economic growth averaged 3.7% annually.
Economic growth was especially strong in the 2004-2007 period, registering an impressive 11%
and 12%, respectively, in 2005 and 2006 (see Figure 2). The economy benefitted from the growth
of the tourism, nickel, and oil sectors, and support from Venezuela and China in terms of
25
Information and statistics were drawn from several sources: U.S. Department of State, “U.S. Relations with Cuba,”
August 30, 2013; Economist Intelligence Unit, “Cuba Country Report,” February 2013; Oficina Nacional de
Estadísticas, “Anuario Estadístico de Cuba, 2011”; and Marc Frank, “Cuban Sugar Out Tops Previous Harvest, But
Well Below Plan,” Reuters, May 19, 2014, and “Cuban Tourism Industry Stalls in 2013,” Reuters, July 30, 2014.
26
For example, see “Cuba, Economy, Seeking New Partners, Latin American Caribbean & Central America Report,
May 2013.
27
World Bank, World Development Report 2014, p. 298.
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investment commitments and credit lines. However, the economy was hard hit by several
hurricanes and storms in 2008 and the global financial in 2009, with the government having to
implement austerity measures. As a result, economic growth slowed significantly.
Since 2010, however, growth has improved modestly, with 2.4% growth in 2010, 2.8% in 2011,
3% in 2012, and an estimated 2.7% in 2013, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The forecast for 2014, however, is for 1.2% growth, downgraded from EIU’s original forecast of
2.1% growth because of Cuba’s challenges in shifting from a centrally planned to a more
decentralized economy.28 Cuban officials downgraded their own economic growth forecast for
2014 to 1.4% from 2.2%.29 The EIU projects stronger growth rates averaging 4% in the 20152018 period, but notes that the withdrawal of support from Venezuela would jeopardize these
forecasts. Some economists maintain that Cuba needs a growth rate of at least 5% to 7% in order
to develop the economy and create new jobs—increasing internal savings and attracting foreign
investment reportedly are keys to achieving such growth rates.30
Figure 2. Cuba: Real GDP Growth (percentage), 2004-2013
14.0%
12.1%
12.0%
11.2%
10.0%
8.0%
6.0%
7.3%
5.8%
4.1%
4.0%
2.8%
3.0%
2.7%
2010 2011
2012
2013
2.4%
2.0%
1.4%
0.0%
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Data Tool, 2014.
The government of Raúl Castro has implemented a number of economic policy changes, but there
has been some disappointment that more far-reaching reforms have not been forthcoming. As
noted above, the government employs a majority of the labor force, almost 80%, but it has been
allowing more private sector activities. In 2010, the government opened up a wide range of
28
“Cuba Country Report,” Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), July 2014.
“Cuba Revises Down Economic Growth Estimate for 2014 to 1.4 Pct,” Reuters, June 23, 2014.
30
Marc Frank, “Factbox—Key Political Risks to Watch in Cuba,” Reuters News, May 13, 2013.
29
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activities for self-employment and small businesses. There are now almost 200 categories of work
allowed, and the number of self-employed has risen from some 156,000 at the end of 2010 to
some 440,000 today. 31 In 2013, some 125 non-agricultural cooperatives were established and the
government announced that 20 state-run restaurants would be converted to cooperatives in a pilot
project that could eventually lead to the conversion of hundreds of other state-run restaurants.32
Analysts contend, however, that the government needs to do more to support the development of
the private sector, including an expansion of authorized activities to include more white-collar
occupations and state support for credit to support small businesses. A major challenge for the
development of the private sector is the lack of money in circulation. Most Cubans do not make
enough money to support the development of small businesses; those private sector activities
catering to tourists and foreign diplomats have fared better than those serving the Cuban market.
The government’s decisions in 2013 to crack down on privately run movie and video game salons
and on private sales of imported clothes and hardware raised questions about its commitment to
the development of the private sector. In late December 2013, Raúl Castro issued a warning
against those engaging in economic activities not strictly authorized by the state, maintaining that
it creates an environment of impunity.33
When the Cuban Communist Party held its sixth congress in April 2011, it approved over 300
economic guidelines that, if implemented, include some potentially significant economic reforms.
These include the liquidation of state enterprises with financial losses, the creation of special
development zones for foreign investment, the gradual development of a tax system as a means to
distribute income, and a gradual elimination of the ration system.34 Some economic analysts,
however, maintained that the proposed changes were too limited and late to deal with the severity
of Cuba’s difficult economic situation.35
Among Cuba’s significant economic challenges are low wages (whereby workers cannot satisfy
basic human needs) and the related problem of how to unify Cuba’s two official currencies
circulating in the country.36 Most people are paid in Cuban pesos (CUPs) and the minimum
monthly wage in Cuba is about 225 pesos (about $9 U.S. dollars),37 but for increasing amounts of
consumer goods, convertible pesos (CUCs) are used. (For personal transactions, the exchange
31
Andrea Rodriguez and Anne Marie Garcia, “2 Years Into Cuba’s Free Market Experiment, Small Entrepreneurs
Struggle to Stay Afloat,” Associated Press, December 27, 2013; Anne Marie Garcia, “Cuban Orders Immediate Ban on
3D, Other Movies, Video Games in Privately Run Businesses,” Associated Press, November 2, 2013.
32
Marc Frank, “Cuban State Begins to Move Out of the Restaurant Business,” Reuters News, August 26, 2013.
33
Michael Weissenstein and Andrea Rodriguez, “Raúl Castro Issues Stern Warning to Entrepreneurs Pushing
Boundaries of Cuba’s Economic Reforms,” Associated Press, December 21, 2013.
34
Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social Del Partido y la Revolución, VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de
Cuba, approved April 18, 2011, available at http://thecubaneconomy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Lineamientosde-la-Pol%C3%ADtica-econ%C3%B3mica-y-Social-del-Partido-y-la-Revoluci%C3%B3n-Aprobado-el-18-de-abrilde-2011.-VI-Congreso-del-PCC.pdf. In addition, the Cuban Communist Party published a report comparing the original
291 guidelines to the final 313 guidelines and how they changed. See Información Sobre el Resultado del Debate de los
Lineamientos de la Política Económica y Social Del Partido y la Revolución, VI Congreso del Partido Comunista de
Cuba, May 2011, available at http://www.cubadebate.cu/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/
tabloide_debate_lineamientos.pdf.
35
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, Cambios en Cuba: Pocos, Limitados y Tardios, Havana Cuba, February 2011, available at
http://reconciliacioncubana.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/cambios-en-cuba.pdf.
36
For more on Cuba’s currency problem, see “Replacing Cuba’s Dual Currency System: What Are the Issues that
Really Matter?,” Latin American Economy & Business, July 2013.
37
U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, Cuba,” February 27, 2014.
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rate for the two currencies is CUP24/CUC1.) Cubans with access to foreign remittances or who
work in jobs that give them access to convertible pesos are far better off than those Cubans who
do not have such access.
In October 2013, the Cuban government announced that it would move toward ending its dualcurrency system and move toward monetary unification. In March 2014, the government
provided insight about how monetary unification would move forward when it published
instructions for when the CUC is removed from circulation; no date was provided, but it was
referred to as day zero (día cero). The Economist Intelligence Unit believes that unification will
happen before the end of 2014, but there is significant uncertainty about the actual date and the
exchange rate system that will replace it.38 The currency reform is ultimately expected to lead to
productivity gains and improve the business climate, but the adjustment will create winners and
losers.39
A significant reform effort under Raúl Castro has focused on the agricultural sector, a vital issue
because Cuba reportedly imports some 60% of its food needs. In an effort to boost food
production, the government has turned over idle land to farmers and given farmers more control
over how to use their land and what supplies to buy. Despite these and other efforts, overall food
production has been significantly below targets. In 2012, Cuba’s coffee sector was hard hit by
Hurricane Sandy in October, and overall agricultural production reportedly underperformed for
the year. In November 2013, the Cuban government unveiled a new pilot program for the
provinces of Havana, Artemisa, and Mayabeque that will end the government’s monopoly on
food distribution in an effort to boost production.40
In March 2014, Cuba approved a new foreign investment law (to go into effect in 90 days) with
the goal of attracting needed foreign capital to the country. The law cuts taxes in profits by half to
15% and exempts companies from paying taxes for the first eight years of operation. Employment
or labor taxes are also eliminated, although companies still must hire labor through state-run
companies, with agreed upon wages. A fast-track procedure for small projects reportedly will
streamline the approval process, and the government has agreed to improve the transparency and
time of the approval process for larger investments.41 It remains to be seen, however, to what
extent the new law will actually attract investment. Over the past several years, Cuba has closed a
number of joint ventures with foreign companies and has arrested several executives of foreign
companies reportedly for corrupt practices. According to some observers, investors will want
evidence, not just legislation, that the government is prepared to allow foreign investors to make a
profit in Cuba.42
38
“Cuba Country Report,” EIU, July 2014.
“Cuba: Exchange Rate Unification Approaching,” Latin America Regional Report: Caribbean & Central America,
March 2014.
40
Marc Frank, “Cuba Growing Less Food than 5 Ys Ago Despite Agriculture Reforms,” Reuters, August 31, 2012,
“Cuba Sees Economy Growing 3.1 Pct in 2012, Below Forecast,” Reuters, December 3, 2012, “Cuba Reports Little
Progress Five Years into Agricultural Reform,” Reuters, July 30, 2013, and “Cuba Rolls Out Master Plan for Food
Production and Distribution,” Reuters News, November 8, 2013.
41
“Cuba Approves New Foreign Investment Law,” Latin American Regional Report: Caribbean & Central America,
April 2014; “What’s Changed in Cuba’s New Foreign Investment Law,” Reuters News, March 29, 2014.
42
Marc Frank, “Cuba Plans Big Tax Breaks to Lure Foreign Investors,” Reuters News, March 26, 2014; and Daniel
Trotta, “Cuba’s Past Raises Skepticism About New Foreign Investment Law,” Reuters News, March 31, 2014.
39
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In April 2014, the Cuban government loosened restrictions on hundreds of its largest state-run
companies that reportedly will be allowed to keep 50% of their profits after taxes, design their
own wage systems, sell excess product on the open market after meeting state quotas, and have
more flexibility in production and marketing decisions.43
For Additional Reading on the Cuban Economy
Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy, Annual Proceedings, available at
http://www.ascecuba.org/publications/proceedings/.
Brookings Institution, webpage on Cuba, http://www.brookings.edu/research/topics/cuba;
Ted Piccone and Harold Trinkunas, “The Cuba-Venezuela Alliance: The Beginning of the End?” June 2004, available
at http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/06/16-cuba-venezuela-alliance-piccone-trinkunas
Philip Peters, “Cuba’s New Real Estate Market,” February 2014, available at
http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2014/02/21-cuba-real-estate-market-peters; and
Richard Feinberg, “Soft Landing in Cuba? Emerging Entrepreneurs and Middle Classes,” November 2013, available
at http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/11/cuba-entrepreneurs-middle-classes-feinberg.
The Cuban Economy, La Economia Cubana, website maintained by Arch Ritter, from Carlton University,
Ottawa, Canada, available at http://thecubaneconomy.com/.
Revista Temas (Havana), links to the Cuban journal’s articles on Economy and Politics, in Spanish available at
http://www.temas.cult.cu/catalejo.php.
Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas, República de Cuba, (Cuba’s official economic statistics) available at
http://www.one.cu/.
Cuba’s Foreign Relations
During the Cold War, Cuba had extensive relations with and support from the Soviet Union, with
billions of dollars in annual subsidies to sustain the Cuban economy. This subsidy system helped
fund an activist foreign policy and support for guerrilla movements and revolutionary
governments abroad in Latin America and Africa. With an end to the Cold War, the dissolution of
the Soviet Union, and the loss of Soviet financial support, Cuba was forced to abandon its
revolutionary activities abroad.
As its economy reeled from the loss of Soviet support, Cuba was forced to open up its economy
and economic relations with countries worldwide, and it developed significant trade and
investment linkages with Canada, Spain, other European countries, and China. Over the past
decade, Venezuela—under populist President Hugo Chávez—became a significant source of
support for Cuba, providing subsidized oil (some 100,000 barrels per day) and investment. For its
part, Cuba has sent thousands of medical personnel to Venezuela. In the aftermath of Chávez’s
death in early March 2013 and the very close presidential election in April 2013 won by Nicolás
Maduro of the ruling Socialist party by just 1.49% over the opposition candidate, Henrique
Capriles, Cuban officials are concerned about the future of Venezuelan support in the medium to
longer term. During the Venezuelan election campaign, Capriles had vowed to end the shipment
of subsidized oil to Cuba.
43
Marc Frank, “Cuba’s Market Reforms Spread to Largest Companies,” Reuters News, April 28, 2014.
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In 2012, Cuba’s leading trading partners in terms of Cuban exports were Venezuela, the
Netherlands, Canada, and China (see Figure 3), while the leading sources of Cuba’s imports were
Venezuela, China, Spain, Brazil, and the United States (see Figure 4).
Figure 3. Cuban Exports by Country of Destination, 2012
Russia
2%
Brazil
2%
Dominican
Republic
1%
Others
13%
Venezuela
45%
Nigeria
2%
Panama
2%
Spain
3%
China
8%
Canada
10%
Netherlands
12%
Source: Created by CRS based on information from República de Cuba, Oficina Nacional de Estadística e
Información, Anuario Estadístico de Cuba 2012, Sector Externo, Table 8.5, http://www.one.cu/aec2012/esp/
20080618_tabla_cuadro.htm.
Relations with Russia, which had diminished significantly in the aftermath of the Cold War, have
been strengthened somewhat over the past several years. In 2008, then-Russian President Dmitry
Medvedev visited Havana while Raúl Castro visited Russia in 2009 and again in 2012. Current
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Cuba in July 2014 on his way to attend the BRICS
summit in Brazil. Just before arriving in Cuba, Putin signed into law an agreement writing off
90% of Cuba’s $32 billion Soviet-era debt, with some $3.5 billion to be paid back by Cuba over a
10-year period that would fund Russian investment projects in Cuba.44 In the aftermath of Putin’s
trip, there were press reports alleging that Russia would reopen its signals intelligence facility at
Lourdes, Cuba, which had closed in 2002, but President Putin denied reports that his government
would reopen the facility.45
44
That agreement had been discussed in a 2013 visit by now Prime Minister Medvedev to Cuba, and had been
announced in December 2013. Anna Andrianova and Bill Faries, “Russia Forgives $32B of Debt, Wants to Don
Business in Cuba,” Bloomberg News, July 13, 2014; Marc Frank, “Russia Signs Deal to Forgive $29 Biln of Cuba’s
Soviet-Era Debt – Diplomats,” Reuters, December 9, 2013; “Castro Declares He Had a Good Visit with Russia’s
Medvedev,” Agence France Presse, February 23, 2013.
45
“Putin Denies Russia to Reopen Soviet-era Spy Post in Cuba,” Reuters News, July 17, 2014.
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While trade relations between Russia and Cuba are not significant, two Russian energy
companies have been involved in oil exploration in Cuba, and a third recently announced its
involvement. Gazprom had been in a partnership with the Malaysian state oil company Petronas
that conducted unsuccessful deepwater oil drilling off of Cuba’s western coast in 2012. The
Russian oil company Zarubezhneft began drilling in Cuba’s shallow coastal waters east of
Havana in December 2012, but stopped work in April 2013 because of disappointing results (also
see “Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development” below). More recently, during President Putin’s July
2014 visit to Cuba, Russian energy companies Rosneft and Zarubezhneft signed an agreement
with Cuba’s state oil company CubaPetroleo (Cupet) for the development of an offshore
exploration block, and Rosneft agreed to cooperate with Cuba in studying ways to optimize
existing production at mature fields.46 Some energy analysts are skeptical about the prospects for
the offshore project given the unsuccessful attempts by foreign oil companies drilling wells in
Cuba’s deepwaters. (Also see “Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development” below.)
Figure 4. Cuban Imports by Country of Origin, 2012
France
3%
Algeria
2%
Others
17%
Venezuela
44%
Italy
3%
Canada
3%
Mexico
3%
United States
4%
Brazil
5%
Spain
7%
China
9%
Source: Created by CRS based on information from República de Cuba, Oficina Nacional de Estadística e
Informacíon, Anuario Estadístico de Cuba 2012, Sector Externo, Table 8.6, http://www.one.cu/aec2012/esp/
20080618_tabla_cuadro.htm.
Relations with China have also increased in recent years. During the Cold War, the two countries
did not have close relations because of Sino-Soviet tensions, but bilateral relations have grown
close in recent years with Chinese trade and investment in Cuba increasing. Chinese President Hu
Jintao visited Cuba in 2004 and again in 2008, while Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited
Cuba in June 2011 and again in July 2014 as President after attending the BRIC summit in Brazil.
Raúl Castro had also visited China in 2012 on a four day visit, in which the two countries
reportedly signed cooperation agreements focusing on trade and investment issues. During Xi
Jinping’s 2014 visit, the two countries reportedly signed 29 trade, debt, credit, and other
46
“Russia Cements Energy Ties with Latin America,” The Oil Daily, July 15, 2014.
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agreements. While in Cuba, the Chinese President said that “China and Cuba being socialist
countries, we are closely united by the same missions, ideals, and struggles.”47
With El Salvador’s restoration of relations with Cuba in June 2009, all Latin American nations
now have official diplomatic relations with Cuba. Cuba has increasingly become more engaged in
Latin America beyond the already close relations with Venezuela. Cuba is a member of the
Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, (ALBA), a Venezuelan-led integration and cooperation
scheme founded in 2004. In August 2013, Cuba began deploying thousands of doctors to Brazil in
a program aimed at providing doctors to rural areas of Brazil, with Cuba earning some $225
million a year for supplying the medical personnel.48 Brazil also has been a major investor in the
development of the port of Mariel west of Havana.
Cuba became a full member of the Rio Group of Latin American and Caribbean nations in
November 2008, and a member of the succeeding Community of Latin American and Caribbean
States (CELAC) that was officially established in December 2011 to boost regional cooperation,
but without the participation of the United States or Canada. In January 2013, CELAC held its
first summit in Chile, and Raúl Castro assumed the presidency of the organization for one year.
Cuba hosted the group’s second summit on January 28-29, 2014, in Havana, attended by leaders
from across the hemisphere as well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and OAS Secretary
General José Miguel Insulza. The U.N. Secretary General reportedly raised human rights issues
with Cuban officials, including the subject of Cuba’s ratification of U.N. human rights accords
and “arbitrary detentions” by the Cuban government.49 Dozens of dissidents were arrested or
detained in the lead-up to the summit. At the summit, Latin American nations approved a joint
declaration emphasizing nonintervention and pledging to respect “the inalienable right of every
state to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system.”50
Cuba had expressed interest in attending the sixth Summit of the Americas in April 2012 in
Cartagena, Colombia, but ultimately was not invited to attend. The United States and Canada
expressed opposition to Cuba’s participation. Previous summits have been limited to the
hemisphere’s 34 democratically elected leaders, and the OAS (in which Cuba does not
participate) has played a key role in summit implementation and follow-up activities. Several
Latin American nations, however, have vowed not to attend the next Summit of the Americas to
be held in Panama in 2015 unless Cuba is allowed to participate.
Cuba was excluded from participation in the OAS in 1962 because of its identification with
Marxism-Leninism, but in early June 2009, the OAS overturned the 1962 resolution in a move
that could eventually lead to Cuba’s reentry into the regional organization in accordance with the
practices, purposes, and principles of the OAS. While the Cuban government welcomed the OAS
vote to overturn the 1962 resolution, it asserted that it would not return to the OAS.51
47
Marc Frank, “Chinese President Ends Regional Tour in Cradle of Cuban Revolution,” Reuters News, July 23, 2014.
Anthony Boadle, “Cuban Doctors Tend to Brazil’s Poor, Giving Rousseff a Boost,” Reuters News, December 1,
2013.
49
“UN Chief Pushes Cuba on ‘Arbitrary Detentions,’” Agence France Presse, January 28, 2014.
50
Peter Orsi, “LatAm Leaders Declare Region a ‘Zone of Peace,’” Associated Press, January 29, 2014.
51
For further background, see section on “Cuba and the OAS” in archived CRS Report R40193, Cuba: Issues for the
111th Congress, by Mark P. Sullivan; also see CRS Report R42639, Organization of American States: Background and
Issues for Congress, by Peter J. Meyer.
48
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Cuba is an active participant in international forums, including the United Nations and the
controversial United Nations Human Rights Council. Since 1991, the U.N. General Assembly has
approved a resolution each year criticizing the U.S. economic embargo and urging the United
States to lift it. Cuba also has received support over the years from the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), both of which have offices in Havana. The U.N. has played a
significant role in providing relief and recovery from Hurricane Sandy that struck in October
2012. In November 2012, the U.N. system launched a Plan of Action (developed in cooperation
with the Cuban government) for $30.6 million to address the urgent needs of the population in the
following sectors: shelter and recovery, water sanitation and hygiene, food security, health, and
education.52
Among other international organizations, Cuba was a founding member of the World Trade
Organization, but it is not a member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or the
Inter-American Development Bank. Cuba hosted the 14th summit of the Non-aligned Movement
(NAM) in 2006, and held the Secretary Generalship of the NAM until its July 2009 summit in
Egypt.
North Korean Ship Incident53
On July 10, 2013, Panamanian authorities detained a North Korean freighter known as the Chong
Chon Gang, which made stops in Cuba, as it prepared to enter the Panama Canal because of
suspicion that the ship was carrying illicit narcotics. The ship, which had stops Cuba at Havana
and Puerto Padre (a major sugar export point), was taken to Panama’s international container port
of Manzanillo in Panama’s Colón province. When Panamanian authorities attempted to detain
and search the ship, the 35-member North Korean crew tried to prevent them, and the captain
attempted to commit suicide.54 Panama’s initial search of the ship found weapons hidden aboard
along with sugar. Panama’s then-President Ricardo Martinelli made a public radio broadcast to
that effect on July 15 and also tweeted a photo of some of the military equipment found.
Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs subsequently issued a statement on July 16 acknowledging
that the ship was loaded with 10,000 tons of sugar and 240 metric tons of “obsolete defensive
weapons” that had been manufactured in the mid-20th century and were to be “repaired and
returned to Cuba” in order to maintain the country’s defensive capability. Cuba maintained that
the weapons being transported on the ship were “two anti-aircraft missiles complexes Volga and
Pechora, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG-21 Bis and 15 motors for this type of
airplane.”55
52
U.N. OCHA, “Cuba, Plan of Action, Response to Needs Arising from Hurricane Sandy,” November 2012, available
at http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/CUBA%20Action%20Plan%20FINAL.pdf.
53
Also see September 26, 2013 CRS testimony to Congress presented by Mary Beth Nikitin, Specialist in
Nonproliferation, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, at a
hearing entitled “A Closer Look at Cuba and Its Recent History of Proliferation,” available at http://docs.house.gov/
meetings/FA/FA07/20130926/101353/HHRG-113-FA07-Wstate-NikitinM-20130926.pdf. Other hearing testimony is
available at http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-closer-look-cuba-and-its-recent-historyproliferation.
54
Rick Gladstone and David E. Sanger, “Panama Seizes Korean Ship, And Sugar-Coated Arms Parts,” New York
Times, July 17, 2013.
55
Cuba, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” July 16, 2013.
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Cuba’s statement raised questions as to why Cuba would make such an effort to repair what it
described as “obsolete defensive equipment.” Some press reports indicated that Cuba was
attempting to have the missile systems upgraded by North Korea. Jeffrey Lewis from the
Monterey Institute for International Studies maintains that the explanation that North Korea was
refurbishing Cuba’s anti-aircraft missiles was plausible since it clears up a mystery as to how
Cuba had been able to introduced new missile launchers in 2006 for two types of missiles.56 The
sugar could have been Cuba’s payment—essentially a barter arrangement for the repair/upgrade
of the weapons. For some analysts, however, the inclusion of the MiGs in the shipment raises
skepticism as to whether the MiGs and engines were going to be returned to Cuba. In 2011, North
Korea had attempted to acquire parts of MiG-21 jets from Mongolia, according to a June 2013
report by the U.N. Security Council’s Panel of Experts.57
In late August, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPRI) issued a report
maintaining that key parts of Cuba’s military shipment to North Korea “seem intended for
Pyongyang’s own use in its conventional military defenses, not to be repaired and returned to
Cuba.” In addition to the materiel that Cuba publicly acknowledged, the SPPRI report maintained
that the North Korean “ship also was transporting a variety of small arms and light weapons
(SALW) ammunition and conventional artillery ammunition for anti-tank guns and howitzer
artillery as well as generators, batteries, and night vision equipment, among other items.” Some of
this materiel was reported to be in “mint condition” and “clearly were not to be repaired and
returned to Cuba.”58
The discovery of the Chong Chon Gang shipment of weapons also raises questions about the
potential previous shipment of weapons from Cuba to North Korea and more broadly about the
nature of Cuban-North Korean relations. According to press reports, North Korean ships have
made several other trips to Cuba since 2009.59 The Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control
reports that two North Korean vessels, the O Un Chong Nyon Ho and the Mu Du Bong, traveled
to Cuba in May 2012 and May 2009 respectively. 60 In particular, the O Un Chong Nyon Ho was
reported to have visited the same two Cuban ports as the Chong Chon Gang—Havana and the
sugar export center of Puerto Padre. Another North Korean ship, the Po Thong Gang, also
reportedly docked at Puerto Padre in April 2012, and at the ports of Havana and Santiago de Cuba
in 2011.61
Relations between Cuba and North Korea traditionally have not been thought to be significant.
During the Cold War, North Korea was an ideological partner of Cuba since both countries sided
56
Jeffrey Lewis, “Chen Chon Gang Interdiction,” Arms Control Wonk, Leading Blogs on Arms Control, Disarmament
and Non-proliferation, July 18, 2013, available at http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/6705/chong-chon-ganginterdiction.
57
U.N. Security Council, Panel of Experts Pursuant to Resolution 1874 (2009), Report S/2013/337, June 13, 2013,
available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2013/337.
58
Hugh Griffiths and Roope Siirtola, “Full Disclosure: Contents of North Korean Smuggling Ship Revealed,”
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, published online by 38 North, a project of the U.S. Korean Institute
at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, available at http://38north.org/2013/08/hgriffiths082713/.
59
Billy Kenber, “Soviet-Era Weaponry Found Hidden on North Korean Freighter,” Washington Post, July 21, 2013;
and Juan O. Tamayo, “Al Menos Cinco Cargueros Norcoreanos Han Visitado Cuba Desde el 2009,” El Nuevo Herald,
July 25, 2013.
60
“More on the North Korean Vessel Seized in Panama,” Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, July 17, 2013,
available at http://www.wisconsinproject.org/pubs/editorials/chongchongang.htm.
61
Kenber, op. cit. and Tamayo, op. cit.
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with the Soviet Union, but the relationship was not thought to go beyond political and ideological
relations. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro acknowledged that North Korea had provided
100,000 Kalashnikov assault weapons to Cuba in the early 1980s.62 While North Korea has a
history of buying and selling arms around the world, it was not thought to have a significant arms
trade relationship with Cuba.63 Nevertheless, the recent visit of a high-level North Korean
military delegation to Cuba in early July 2013, less than 10 days before the detention of the
Chong Chon Gang, might provide some insight into the bilateral military relationship between the
two countries. The North Korean delegation, led by General Kim Kyok Sik, Chief of the Korean
People’s Army General Staff, met with Cuban President Raúl Castro, who stressed the historic
ties between the two countries and efforts to boost cooperative relations.64
Panama asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate the shipment and determine whether Cuba
violated U.N. sanctions banning weapons transfers to North Korea.65 In response, the U.N. Panel
of Experts for North Korea visited Panama August 13-15, 2013. In late August 2013, Panamanian
officials maintain that they were given a preliminary version that reportedly concluded that the
Cuban weapons found on the Chong Chon Gang “without doubt” violated U.N. sanctions.66
In early March 2014, the U.N. Security Council issued the Panel of Experts report, which stated
that the panel had concluded in its incident report that both the shipment itself and the transaction
between Cuba and North Korea were sanctions violations. The panel found that the “hidden cargo
... amounted to six trailers associated with surface-to-air missile systems and 25 shipping
containers loaded with two disassembled MiG-21 aircraft, 15 engines for MiG-21 aircraft,
components for surface to air missile systems, ammunition and miscellaneous arms-related
material.” The panel found that the “extraordinary and extensive efforts to conceal the cargo of
arms and related material ... and the contingency instructions ... found onboard the vessel for
preparing a false declaration for entering the Panama Canal ... point to a clear and conscious
intention to circumvent the resolutions.”67
On July 28, 2014, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on the operator of the Chong
Chon Gang, Ocean Maritime Management Company, Ltd, (OMM), which “played a key role in
arranging the shipment of the concealed cargo of arms and related material.”68 The company is
now subject to an international asset freeze. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha
62
“Castro Says N.K. Supplied Free Weapons to Cuba,” The Korea Herald, August 16, 2013; and Peter Orsi, “Cuba’s
Fidel Castro Says He Never Imagined He’d Live to 87 When Serious Illness Struck in 2006,” AP Newswire, August 14,
2013.
63
Foster Klug, “A Look at North Korea’s Long History of Buying, Marketing and Selling Arms Around the World,”
Associated Press, July 17, 2013.
64
“North Korea Military Delegation Holds Talks With Cuban Leader,” BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific, July 2, 2013.
65
U.N. Security Council sanctions ban all weapons exports from North Korea, and all imports except small arms and
light weapons.
66
Lomi Kriel, “Panama Says Cuban Weapons Shipment ‘Without Doubt’ Violated UN Sanctions,” Reuters, August 28,
2013.
67
United Nations Security Council, Notes by the President of the Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts
established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), S/1014/147, March 6, 2014, available at http://www.un.org/en/ga/
search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2014/147.
68
U.N. Security Council, “Security Council Committee Designates Entity Subject to Measures Imposed by Resolution
1718 (2006),” Press Release, July 28, 2014.
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Power, described the North Korean ship incident as a “cynical, outrageous and illegal attempt by
Cuba and North Korea to circumvent United Nations sanctions.”69
U.S. Policy Toward Cuba
Background on U.S.-Cuban Relations70
In the early 1960s, U.S.-Cuban relations deteriorated sharply when Fidel Castro began to build a
repressive communist dictatorship and moved his country toward close relations with the Soviet
Union. The often tense and hostile nature of the U.S.-Cuban relationship is illustrated by such
events and actions as U.S. covert operations to overthrow the Castro government culminating in
the ill-fated April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion; the October 1962 missile crisis in which the United
States confronted the Soviet Union over its attempt to place offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba;
Cuban support for guerrilla insurgencies and military support for revolutionary governments in
Africa and the Western Hemisphere; the 1980 exodus of around 125,000 Cubans to the United
States in the so-called Mariel boatlift; the 1994 exodus of more than 30,000 Cubans who were
interdicted and housed at U.S. facilities in Guantanamo and Panama; and the February 1996
shootdown by Cuban fighter jets of two U.S. civilian planes operated by the Cuban American
group Brothers to the Rescue, which resulted in the death of four U.S. crew members.
Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating the island nation
through comprehensive economic sanctions, including an embargo on trade and financial
transactions. The Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), first issued by the Treasury
Department in July 1963, lay out a comprehensive set of economic sanctions against Cuba,
including a prohibition on most financial transactions with Cuba and a freeze of Cuban
government assets in the United States. The CACR have been amended many times over the
years to reflect changes in policy, and remain in force today.
These sanctions were made stronger with the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992 (P.L. 102484, Title XVII) and with the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (P.L. 104114), the latter often referred to as the Helms/Burton legislation. The CDA prohibits U.S.
subsidiaries from engaging in trade with Cuba and prohibits entry into the United States for any
sea-borne vessel to load or unload freight if it has been involved in trade with Cuba within the
previous 180 days. The Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, enacted in the aftermath of
Cuba’s shooting down of two U.S. civilian planes in February 1996, combines a variety of
measures to increase pressure on Cuba and provides for a plan to assist Cuba once it begins the
transition to democracy. Most significantly, the law codified the Cuban embargo, including all
restrictions under the CACR. This provision is noteworthy because of its long-lasting effect on
U.S. policy options toward Cuba. The executive branch is circumscribed in lifting the economic
embargo without congressional concurrence until certain democratic conditions are met, although
the CACR includes licensing authority that provides the executive branch with administrative
flexibility (e.g., travel-related restrictions in the CACR have been eased and tightened on
numerous occasions). Another significant sanction in the law is a provision in Title III that holds
69
Michelle Nichols, “U.N. Blacklists Operator of North Korean Ship Seized in Panama,” Reuters, July 29, 2014.
For additional background, see archived CRS Report RL30386, Cuba-U.S. Relations: Chronology of Key Events
1959-1999, by Mark P. Sullivan.
70
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any person or government that traffics in U.S. property confiscated by the Cuban government
liable for monetary damages in U.S. federal court. Acting under provisions of the law, however,
Presidents Clinton, Bush, and now Obama have suspended the implementation of Title III at sixmonth intervals.
In addition to sanctions, another component of U.S. policy, a so-called second track, consists of
support measures for the Cuban people. This includes U.S. private humanitarian donations,
medical exports to Cuba under the terms of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, U.S. government
support for democracy-building efforts, and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to
Cuba. In addition, the 106th Congress approved the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export
Enhancement Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-387, Title IX) that allows for agricultural exports to Cuba,
albeit with restrictions on financing such exports. This led to the United States becoming one of
Cuba’s largest suppliers of agricultural products.
Clinton Administration’s Easing of Sanctions
The Clinton Administration made several changes to U.S. policy in the aftermath of Pope John
Paul II’s 1998 visit to Cuba, which were intended to bolster U.S. support for the Cuban people.
These included the resumption of direct flights to Cuba (which had been curtailed after the
February 1996 shootdown of two U.S. civilian planes), the resumption of cash remittances by
U.S. nationals and residents for the support of close relatives in Cuba (which had been curtailed
in August 1994 in response to the migration crisis with Cuba), and the streamlining of procedures
for the commercial sale of medicines and medical supplies and equipment to Cuba.
In January 1999, President Clinton announced several additional measures to support the Cuban
people. These included a broadening of cash remittances to Cuba, so that all U.S. residents (not
just those with close relatives in Cuba) could send remittances to Cuba; an expansion of direct
passenger charter flights to Cuba from additional U.S. cities other than Miami (direct flights later
in the year began from Los Angeles and New York); and an expansion of people-to-people
contact by loosening restrictions on travel to Cuba for certain categories of travelers, such as
professional researchers and those involved in a wide range of educational, religious, and sports
activities.
Bush Administration’s Tightening of Sanctions
The George W. Bush Administration essentially continued the two-track U.S. policy of isolating
Cuba through economic sanctions while supporting the Cuban people through a variety of
measures. However, within this policy framework, the Administration emphasized stronger
enforcement of economic sanctions and further tightened restrictions on travel, remittances, and
humanitarian gift parcels to Cuba. The Administration established an interagency Commission for
Assistance to a Free Cuba in late 2003 tasked with identifying means “to help the Cuban people
bring about an expeditious end of the dictatorship” and to consider “the requirements for United
States assistance to a post-dictatorship Cuba.”71 In issuing its first report in May 2004, the
commission made recommendations to tighten restrictions on family visits and other categories of
travel and on private humanitarian assistance in the form of remittances and gift parcels.72 The
71
72
U.S. Department of State, “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,” White House Fact Sheet, December 8, 2003.
See the commission’s May 2004 report, available at http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PCAAB192.pdf.
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Administration subsequently issued these tightened restrictions in June 2004, while in February
2005, it tightened restrictions on payment terms for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. The
commission issued a second and final report in July 2006 that made recommendations to hasten
political change in Cuba toward a democratic transition and led to a substantial increase in U.S.
funding to support democracy and human rights efforts in Cuba.
The Bush Administration continued to emphasize a continuation of the sanctions-based approach
toward Cuba pending political change in Cuba. When Raúl Castro officially became head of state
in February 2008, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement urging “the Cuban
government to begin a process of peaceful, democratic change by releasing all political prisoners,
respecting human rights, and creating a clear pathway towards free and fair elections.”73 In
remarks on Cuba policy in March 2008, President Bush maintained that in order to improve U.S.Cuban relations, “what needs to change is not the United States; what needs to change is Cuba.”
The President asserted that Cuba “must release all political prisoners ... have respect for human
rights in word and deed, and pave the way for free and fair elections.”74
Obama Administration Policy
In some respects, the Obama Administration has continued the dual-track policy approach toward
Cuba that has been in place for many years. It has largely maintained U.S. economic sanctions
and it has continued measures to support the Cuban people, such as U.S. government-sponsored
radio and television broadcasting and funding for democracy and human rights projects.
At the same time, a significant shift in policy toward Cuba under the Obama Administration has
occurred with its efforts to reach out to the Cuban people through the easing of restrictions on
travel and remittances. In April 2009, the Obama Administration fulfilled a campaign pledge and
announced it would lift all restrictions on family travel and remittances. The Administration went
further in January 2011 when it announced new measures to ease travel restrictions and to allow
all Americans to send remittances to Cuba. The measures increased purposeful travel to Cuba
related to religious, educational, and journalistic activities, including people-to-people travel
exchanges; authorized any U.S. person to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba; made
it easier for religious institutions to send remittances for religious activities; and allowed all U.S.
international airports to apply to provide flights to and from Cuba.
In 2012 congressional testimony, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Roberta Jacobson asserted that “the Obama Administration’s priority is to empower Cubans to
freely determine their own future.” She maintained that “the most effective tool we have for
doing that is building connections between the Cuban and American people, in order to give
Cubans the support and tools they need to move forward independent of their government.” The
Assistant Secretary maintained that “the Administration’s travel, remittance and people-to-people
policies are helping Cubans by providing alternative sources of information, taking advantage of
emerging opportunities for self-employment and private property, and strengthening civil
society.”75
73
U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, “Statement on Cuba’s Transition,” February 24,
2008.
74
White House, “President Bush Delivers Remarks on Cuba,” March 7, 2008.
75
U.S. Department of State, “The Path to Freedom Countering Repression and Strengthening Civil Society in Cuba,”
(continued...)
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When the Obama Administration took office in 2009, it initiated a policy to engage with the
Cuban government in an effort to improve relations. At the April 2009 Summit of the Americas,
President Obama announced that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba.” While
recognizing that it would take time to “overcome decades of mistrust,” the President said “there
are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” He stated that he was prepared to have his
Administration “engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues—from drugs,
migration, and economic issues, to human rights, free speech, and democratic reform.” The
President maintained that he was “not interested in talking just for the sake of talking,” but said
that he believed that U.S.-Cuban relations could move in a new direction.76 In the aftermath of the
Summit, there appeared to be some momentum toward improved relations. In July 2009, Cuba
and the United States restarted the semi-annual migration talks that had been suspended by the
United States five years earlier. In September 2009, the United States and Cuba held talks in
Havana on resuming direct mail service between the two countries that included discussion on
issues related to the transportation, quality, and security of mail service.
Relations took a turn for the worse in December 2009, however, when Alan Gross, an American
subcontractor working on Cuba democracy projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) was arrested in Havana state for providing Internet communications
equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community. Gross was convicted in March 2011, and sentenced to
15 years in prison. U.S. officials and Members of Congress repeatedly have raised the issue with
the Cuban government and asked for his release. In the aftermath of Gross’s conviction, the
United States and Cuba continued to cooperate on such issues as antidrug efforts and oil spill
prevention, preparedness, and response, but improvement of relations in other areas appeared to
have been stymied because of the Gross case.
Since June 2013, there has been renewed engagement with Cuba on several fronts, including
direct mail service talks, resumed migration talks, and a preliminary agreement on air and
maritime search and rescue.
•
Talks for direct mail service between the United States on Cuba were held in
June 2013 in Washington, DC and September 2013 in Havana.77 As noted above,
previous talks in 2009 did not lead to a resumption of direct mail service. The
State Department reportedly characterized the September talks as “fruitful,” and
maintained in a statement that “the goal of the talks is for the United States and
Cuba to work out the details for a pilot program to directly transport mail
between the two countries.”78
(...continued)
Testimony by Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, June 7, 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/p/
wha/rls/rm/2012/191935.htm.
76
White House, “Remarks by the President at the Summit of the Americas Opening Ceremony,” April 17, 2009.
77
Since the early 1960s, mail to and from Cuba has arrived via third countries, which results in extensive delays in mail
between the two countries. The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-484, Title XVII, §1705(f)) has a provision
requiring the U.S. Postal Service to take necessary actions to provide direct mail service to and from Cuba, including,
in the absence of common carrier service between the 2 countries, the use of charter service providers. Past U.S.
attempts to negotiate such service were rejected by Cuba, reportedly because Cuba wanted the issue to be part of a
larger normalization of commercial air traffic. Both the Clinton and Bush Administrations had called for negotiations to
restore direct mail service.
78
Marc Frank, “U.S. and Cuba Talk about Resuming Direct Mail Service,” Reuters News, September 17, 2013.
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•
After an 18-month hiatus, the Obama Administration resumed semi-annual
migration talks in July 2013, while two more rounds were held in January and
July 2014. U.S. and Cuban officials issued positive statements after each round
(for more details on the talks, see “Migration Issues” below).
•
In September 2013, the United States and Cuba reportedly agreed to a
preliminary procedure on air and maritime search and rescue. The U.S. Coast
Guard led the U.S. delegation in Havana, and the talks reportedly stressed the
importance of such cooperation to save lives of people in danger.79 The January
2014 migration talks also included discussion of aviation safety and maritime
search and rescue protocols. At the July 2014 migration talks, the Cuban
delegation said that both governments had agreed earlier in the month to enforce
procedures for search and rescue operations in order to saves lives. (see
“Migration Issues” below.)
In November 2013, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry both delivered remarks
regarding U.S. policy toward Cuba. At a Democratic Party fundraising event on November 8 in
Miami, President Obama maintained that with regard to policy toward Cuba, “we have to be
creative ... we have to be thoughtful ... and we have to continue to update our policies.” He
contended that “the notion that the same polices that we put in place in 1961 would somehow still
be as effective as they are today in the age of the Internet and Google and world travel doesn’t
make sense.”80 In a November 18, 2013 address on U.S.-Latin American relations at the
Organization of American States, Secretary of State Kerry reiterated the President’s remarks. He
also maintained that the United States and Cuba “are finding some cooperation on common
interests at this point in time,” and that “we also welcome some of the changes that are taking
place in Cuba which allow more Cubans to be able to travel freely and work for themselves.” At
the same time, however, the Secretary cautioned that changes in Cuba “should absolutely not
blind us to the authoritarian reality of life for ordinary Cubans.” He contended that “in a
hemisphere where people can criticize their leaders without fear of arrest or violence, Cubans
cannot. And if more does not change soon, it is clear that the 21st century will continued,
unfortunately, to leave the Cuban people behind.”81
Considerable international press focused on the handshake between President Obama and
President Castro on December 10, 2013 at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South
Africa. U.S. officials maintain that the handshake was not planned, but rather, that the focus of
President Obama was on Mandela. Some analysts contend that the handshake could portend a
sign of thawing relations while others maintain that sometimes a handshake is just a handshake.
Critics of the Cuban government, including some Members of Congress, criticized the President
for shaking hands with a leader with such a poor human rights record.
Human rights violations have remained a fundamental concern regarding Cuba under the Obama
Administration. President Obama and the State Department have continued to issue statements
79
“Cuba, U.S. Reach Maritime Rescue Agreement,” Agence France Presse, September 21, 2013; “Cuba, U.S. Agree to
Preliminary Procedure for Aeronautical, Maritime Rescue,” Philippines News Agency, September 22, 2013.
80
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President at a DSCC Fundraising Reception,”
Miami, Florida, November 8, 2013, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/08/remarkspresident-dscc-fundraising-reception-0.
81
U.S. Department of State, “Remarks on U.S. Policy in the Western Hemisphere,” November 18, 2013, available at
http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/11/217680.htm.
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expressing concern about violations as they occur, including the death of hunger strikers in 2010
and 2012 and targeted repression against dissidents and human rights. U.S. officials lauded the
release of dozens of Cuban political prisoners in 2010 and 2011, but maintain that their release
has not changed the government’s poor human rights record as it continues to resort to repeated
short-term detentions.82 In October 2013, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy
Sherman met with Berta Soler, spokesperson for the Ladies in White, and expressed concern over
Cuba’s “continued suppression of peaceful activities carried out by Damas de Blanco and other
civil society groups.”83 In November 2013, President Obama met Berta Soler and another
prominent Cuban dissident, Guillermo Fariñas, at an event in Miami, Florida, and Secretary of
State Kerry, as noted above, addressed the OAS and reiterated concerns about human rights and
freedom of expression in Cuba. In December 2013, the State Department issued a statement
deploring “the Cuban government’s harsh tactics to impede Cuban civil society’s peaceful
recognition of Human Rights Day.”84
The State Department’s statements on the human rights situation in Cuba in 2014 include:
•
In February 2014, the State Department issued a statement expressing deep
concern about the “recent increase in arbitrary detentions, physical violence, and
other abusive actions carried out by the Cuban government against peaceful
human and civil rights advocates.”85
•
In June 2014, the State Department released a statement in response to the latest
arbitrary detentions by Cuban authorities of dozens of civil society members and
activists and the violent assault of an independent journalist, Roberto de Jesus
Guerra. The State Department condemned “the Cuban government’s systematic
use of physical violence and arbitrary detention.”86
•
On July 14, 2014, the State Department issued a statement condemning the
detention of more than 100 members of the Ladies in White who were seeking to
commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the loss of life when the Cuban
government sank a tugboat known as the “13 de Marzo” as it attempted to leave
Cuba.87
Securing the release of Alan Gross from prison in Cuba also remains a top U.S. priority. The State
Department maintains that it is using every appropriation channel to press for his release,
including the Vatican. As noted by the State Department in early May 2014, Gross’s continued
well-being remains an impediment to more constructive bilateral relations.88 (For more, see
“Imprisonment of USAID Subcontractor since December 2009” below.)
82
U.S. Department of State, “The Path to Freedom Countering Repression and Strengthening Civil Society in Cuba,”
Testimony by Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, June 7, 2012.
83
U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, October 24, 2013.
84
U.S. Department of State, “Crackdown on Cuban Civil Society’s Human Rights Day Events,” Press Statement,
December 12, 2013.
85
U.S. Department of State, “Detentions of Activists in Cuba,” Press Statement, February 10, 2014.
86
U.S. Department of State, “Detentions of Activists in Cuba,” Press Statement, June 12, 2014.
87
U.S. Department of State, “Detentions of Dozens of Activists in Cuba,” Press Statement, July 14, 2014.
88
U.S. Department of State, “Continued Detention of Alan Gross,” Press Statement, May 2, 2014.
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Debate on the Direction of U.S. Policy
Over the years, although U.S. policy makers have agreed on the overall objectives of U.S. policy
toward Cuba—to help bring democracy and respect for human rights to the island—there have
been several schools of thought about how to achieve those objectives. Some have advocated a
policy of keeping maximum pressure on the Cuban government until reforms are enacted, while
continuing efforts to support the Cuban people. Others argue for an approach, sometimes referred
to as constructive engagement, that would lift some U.S. sanctions that they believe are hurting
the Cuban people, and move toward engaging Cuba in dialogue. Still others call for a swift
normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations by lifting the U.S. embargo. Legislative initiatives
introduced over the past decade have reflected these three policy approaches.
Over the past decade, there have been efforts in Congress to ease U.S. sanctions, with one or both
houses at times approving amendments to appropriations measures that would have eased U.S.
sanctions on Cuba. Until 2009, these provisions were stripped out of final enacted measures, in
part because of presidential veto threats. In March 2009, Congress took action to ease some
restrictions on travel to Cuba, marking the first time that Congress has eased Cuba sanctions since
the approval of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.
In light of Fidel Castro’s departure as head of government and the gradual economic changes
being made by Raúl Castro, some observers called for a reexamination of U.S. policy toward
Cuba. In this new context, two broad policy approaches have been advanced to contend with
change in Cuba: an approach that maintains the U.S. dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban
government while providing support to the Cuban people; and an approach aimed at influencing
the attitudes of the Cuban government and Cuban society through increased contact and
engagement.
In general, those who advocate easing U.S. sanctions on Cuba make several policy arguments.
They assert that if the United States moderated its policy toward Cuba—through increased travel,
trade, and dialogue—then the seeds of reform would be planted, which would stimulate forces for
peaceful change on the island. They stress the importance to the United States of avoiding violent
change in Cuba, with the prospect of a mass exodus to the United States. They argue that since
the demise of Cuba’s communist government does not appear imminent, even without Fidel
Castro at the helm, the United States should espouse a more pragmatic approach in trying to bring
about change in Cuba. Supporters of changing policy also point to broad international support for
lifting the U.S. embargo, to the missed opportunities for U.S. businesses because of the unilateral
nature of the embargo, and to the increased suffering of the Cuban people because of the
embargo. Proponents of change also argue that the United States should be consistent in its
policies with the world’s few remaining communist governments, including China and Vietnam.
On the other side, opponents of changing U.S. policy maintain that the current two-track policy of
isolating Cuba, but reaching out to the Cuban people through measures of support, is the best
means for realizing political change in Cuba. They point out that the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 sets forth the steps that Cuba needs to take in order for the
United States to normalize relations. They argue that softening U.S. policy at this time without
concrete Cuban reforms would boost the Castro government, politically and economically, and
facilitate the survival of the communist regime. Opponents of softening U.S. policy argue that the
United States should stay the course in its commitment to democracy and human rights in Cuba,
and that sustained sanctions can work. Opponents of loosening U.S. sanctions further argue that
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Cuba’s failed economic policies, not the U.S. embargo, are the causes of Cuba’s difficult living
conditions.
Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba,
although the number is more closely split among Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade county in
Florida. A February 2014 poll by the Atlantic Council found that 56% of respondents nationwide
supported normalizing or engaging more directly in Cuba and that 63% or respondents in Florida
supported such a change.89 Since the early 1990s, Florida International University (FIU) has
conducted polling on the Cuban American community in Miami-Dade county regarding U.S.
policy toward Cuba. FIU’s 2014 poll, issued in June 2014, showed a slight majority of Cuban
Americans in Miami-Dade county, 52%, opposed the embargo, although that support dropped to
51% among registered voters. The FIU poll also showed that a large majority of Cuban
Americans in Miami Dade, 69%, supported the lifting of travel restrictions for all Americans to
travel to Cuba.90
Issues in U.S.-Cuban Relations
For many years, Congress has played an active role in U.S. policy toward Cuba through the
enactment of legislative initiatives and oversight on the many issues that comprise policy toward
Cuba. These include U.S. restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba; U.S. agricultural exports
to Cuba with conditions; funding and oversight of U.S.-government sponsored democracy and
human rights projects; the imprisonment of USAID subcontractor Alan Gross in Cuba since
December 2009; funding and oversight for U.S.-government sponsored broadcasting to Cuba
(Radio and TV Martí); terrorism issues; migration issues; bilateral anti-drug cooperation; and the
status of Cuba’s offshore oil development, including efforts to ensure adequate oil spill
prevention, preparedness, and response efforts.
U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances91
Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key and often contentious component of U.S. efforts to
isolate the communist government of Fidel Castro for much of the past 50 years. Over time there
have been numerous changes to the restrictions and for five years, from 1977 until 1982, there
were no restrictions on travel. Restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba are part of the
CACR, the overall embargo regulations administered by the Treasury Department’s Office of
Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Under the George W. Bush Administration, enforcement of U.S. restrictions on Cuba travel
increased, and restrictions on travel and on private remittances to Cuba were tightened. In 2003,
the Administration eliminated travel for people-to-people educational exchanges that had begun
89
Atlantic Council, Adrienne Arsht Latin American Center, U.S-Cuba, A New Public Survey Supports Policy Change,
February 11, 2014, available at http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/publications/reports/us-cuba-a-new-public-surveysupports-policy-change.
90
Florida International University, Cuban Research Institute, 2014 FIU Cuba Poll, How Cuban Americans in Miami
View U.S. Policies Toward Cuba, June 17, 2014, available at: https://cri.fiu.edu/news/2014/cuban-americans-favormore-nuanced-policy/2014-fiu-cuba-poll.pdf
91
For additional information, see CRS Report RL31139, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances, by Mark
P. Sullivan.
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under the Clinton Administration. In 2004, the Administration imposed further restrictions on
travel, especially family travel and the provision of private humanitarian assistance to Cuba in the
form of remittances and gift parcels.
Under the Obama Administration, Congress took legislative action in March 2009 easing
restrictions on family travel (restoring the restrictions to as they were under the Clinton
Administration) and on travel related to U.S. agricultural and medical sales to Cuba (P.L. 111-8,
Sections 620 and 621 of Division D). In April 2009, the Obama Administration went further when
the President announced that he was lifting all restrictions on family travel as well as restrictions
on cash remittances to family members in Cuba.
In January 2011, the Obama Administration made a series of changes further easing restrictions
on travel and remittances to Cuba. The measures (1) increased purposeful travel to Cuba related
to religious, educational, and journalistic activities, including people-to-people travel exchanges;
(2) allowed any U.S. person to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and made it
easier for religious institutions to send remittances for religious activities; and (3) allowed U.S.
international airports to become eligible to provide services to licensed charter flights to and from
Cuba.
In most respects, these new measures were similar to policies that were undertaken by the Clinton
Administration in 1999, but were subsequently curtailed by the Bush Administration in 2003 and
2004. An exception is the expansion of airports to service licensed flights to and from Cuba.
While the new travel regulations immediately went into effect for those categories of travel
falling under a general license category, OFAC delayed processing applications for new travel
categories requiring a specific license (such as people-to-people exchanges) until it updated and
issued guidelines in April 2011.
The first people-to-people trips began in August 2011. In May 2012, the Treasury Department
tightened its restrictions on people-to-people travel by making changes to its license guidelines.
The revised guidelines require an organization applying for a people-to-people license to describe
how the travel “would enhance contact with the Cuban people, and/or support civil society in
Cuba, and/or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities.” The revised
guidelines also require specification on how meetings with prohibited officials of the Cuban
government would advance purposeful travel by enhancing contact with the Cuban people,
supporting civil society, or promoting independence from Cuban authorities.92 In September
2012, various press reports cited a slowdown in the Treasury Department’s approval or reapproval
of licenses for people-to-people travel since the agency had issued new guidelines in May.
Companies conducting such programs complained that the delay in the licenses was forcing them
to cancel trips and even to lay off staff.93 By early October 2012, however, companies conducting
the people-to-people travel maintained that they were once again receiving license approvals.
In early April 2013, some Members of Congress strongly criticized singers Beyoncé KnowlesCarter and her husband Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, for traveling to Cuba. Members
were concerned that the trip, as described in the press, was primarily for tourism, which would be
92
U.S. Department of the Treasury, OFAC, “Comprehensive Guidelines for License Applications to Engage in TravelRelated Transactions Involving Cuba,” Revised May 10, 2012.
93
Damien Cave, “Licensing Rules Slow Tours to Cuba,” New York Times, September 16, 2012; Paul Haven, “U.S.
Travel Outfits Say Rules for Legal Travel to Cuba Getting Tighter,” Associated Press, September 13, 2012.
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contrary to U.S. law and regulations. The Treasury Department stated that the two singers were
participating in an authorized people-to-people exchange trip organized by a group licensed by
OFAC to conduct such trips (pursuant to 31 C.F.R. 515.565(b)(2) of the Cuban Assets Control
Regulations). Some Members also criticized the singers for not meeting with those who have
been oppressed by the Cuban government.
On April 30, 2013, 59 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama lauding the President for
his 2009 action lifting restrictions on family travel and remittances, and for his 2011 action easing
restrictions on some categories of travel, including people-to-people travel. The Members also
called for the President to further use his “executive authority to allow all current categories of
permissible travel, including people-to-people travel,” to be carried out under a general license
(instead of having to apply to Treasury Department for a specific license). Such an action,
according to the Members, would increase opportunities for engagement and help Cubans create
more jobs and opportunities to expand their independence from the Cuban government.
Major arguments made for lifting the Cuba travel ban altogether are that it abridges the rights of
ordinary Americans to travel; it hinders efforts to influence conditions in Cuba and may be aiding
Castro by helping restrict the flow of information; and Americans can travel to other countries
with communist or authoritarian governments. Major arguments in opposition to lifting the Cuba
travel ban are that more American travel would support Castro’s rule by providing his
government with potentially millions of dollars in hard currency; that there are legal provisions
allowing travel to Cuba for humanitarian purposes that are used by thousands of Americans each
year; and that the President should be free to restrict travel for foreign policy reasons.
Legislative Activity. In the first session of the113th Congress, both the House and Senate versions
of the FY2014 Financial Services and General Government appropriations measure, H.R. 2786
and S. 1371, had different provisions that would have tightened and eased travel restrictions
respectively, but none of these provisions were included in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations
measure, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76), signed into law January 17, 2014. The House version of the
FY2014 Financial Services and General Government appropriations measure, H.R. 2786 (H.Rept.
113-172), would have prohibited FY2014 funding used “to approve, license, facilitate, authorize,
or otherwise allow” people-to-people travel to Cuba, which the Obama Administration authorized
in 2011. In contrast, the Senate version of the measure, S. 1371 (S.Rept. 113-80), would have
expanded the current general license for professional research and meetings in Cuba to allow U.S.
groups to sponsor and organize conferences in Cuba, but only if specifically related to disaster
prevention, emergency preparedness, and natural resource protection. (For additional information
see CRS Report R43352, Financial Services and General Government (FSGG): FY2014
Appropriations.)
In the second session of the 113th Congress, the House version of the FY2015 Financial Services
and General Government Appropriations Act (H.R. 5016, H.Rept. 113-508), approved July 16,
2014, includes two provisions related to U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba. Section 126 of the bill
would prevent any funds in the Act from being used to approve, license, facilitate, authorize or
otherwise allow people-to-people travel. Section 127 would require a joint report from the
Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland Security with information for each fiscal
year since FY2007 on the number of travelers visiting close relatives in Cuba; the average
duration of these trips; the average amount of U.S. dollars spent per family traveler (including
amount of remittances carried to Cuba); the number of return trips per year; and the total sum of
U.S. dollars spent collectively by family travelers for each fiscal year.
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In addition, several legislative initiatives have been introduced in the 113th Congress that would
lift all travel restrictions: H.R. 871 (Rangel) would lift travel restrictions; H.R. 873 (Rangel)
would lift restrictions on U.S. agricultural exports as well as travel restrictions; and H.R. 214
(Serrano), H.R. 872 (Rangel), and H.R. 1917 (Rush) would lift the overall embargo on Cuba,
including travel restrictions.
U.S. Agricultural Exports and Sanctions
U.S. commercial agricultural exports to Cuba have been allowed for more than a decade, but with
numerous restrictions and licensing requirements. The 106th Congress passed the Trade Sanctions
Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 or TSRA (P.L. 106-387, Title IX) that allows for
one-year export licenses for selling agricultural commodities to Cuba, although no U.S.
government assistance, foreign assistance, export assistance, credits, or credit guarantees are
available to finance such exports. TSRA also denies exporters access to U.S. private commercial
financing or credit; all transactions must be conducted in cash in advance or with financing from
third countries.
Cuba has purchased about $4.8 billion in products from the United States since 2001, largely
agricultural products. U.S. exports to Cuba rose from about $7 million in 2001 to $404 million in
2004 and to a high of $712 million in 2008, far higher than in previous years, in part because of
the rise in food prices and because of Cuba’s increased food needs in the aftermath of several
hurricanes and tropical storms that severely damaged the country’s agricultural sector. From 2002
through 2010, the United States was the largest supplier of food and agricultural products to
Cuba. In 2011, Brazil became Cuba’s largest agricultural supplier, but this shifted back again to
the United States in 2012.94
U.S. exports to Cuba declined considerably from 2009 through 2011, amounting to $363 million
in 2010 and 2011 (see Figure 5).95 In 2012, the level of U.S. exports to Cuba rose to $464
million, a 28% increase over the previous year, but still lower than export levels to Cuba in 2008
and 2009. Part of the increase in 2012 can be attributed to an increase in Cuba’s import needs
because of damage to the agricultural sector in eastern Cuba caused by Hurricane Sandy in
October. In 2013, U.S. exports to Cuba fell to $358 million, a decline of about 23% from the
previous year. In the first quarter of 2014, U.S. exports to amounted to $133 million, about 8%
less than the same period in 2013.
Looking at the composition of U.S. exports to Cuba in recent years, the leading products have
been poultry, soybean oilcake, corn, and soybeans. Among the reasons for the overall decline in
U.S. exports to Cuba in recent years, analysts cite Cuba’s shortage of hard currency; credits and
other arrangements offered by other governments to purchase their countries’ products; and
Cuba’s perception that its efforts to motivate U.S. companies, organizations, local and state
officials, and Members of Congress to push for change in U.S. sanctions policy toward Cuba have
been ineffective.96
94
Global Trade Atlas, derived by looking at reporting partners’ exports to Cuba.
The U.S. trade statistics cited in this report are from the Department of Commerce, as presented by Global Trade
Atlas.
96
Juan Tamayo, “Big Drop in U.S. Agricultural Sales to Cuba,” Miami Herald, July 29, 2010; Marc Frank, “U.S. Food
Sales to Cuba Continued Decline in 2011,” Reuters News, February 22, 2012; U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council,
(continued...)
95
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Figure 5. U.S. Exports to Cuba, 2001-2013
(U.S. $ millions)
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
U.S. $ mil.
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
7
146 259 404 369 340 447 712 533 363 363 464 358
Source: Created by CRS using information from the Global Trade Atlas, which uses data from the U.S.
Department of Commerce.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) produced a study in 2007 analyzing the
effects of both U.S. government financing restrictions for agricultural exports to Cuba and U.S.
travel restrictions on the level of U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba.97 At the time of the study, the
U.S. share of various Cuban agricultural imports was estimated to range from 0-99% depending
on the commodity. If U.S. financing restrictions were lifted, the study estimated that the U.S.
share of Cuban agricultural, fish, and forest products imports would rise to between one-half and
two-thirds. According to the study, if travel restrictions for all U.S. citizens were lifted, the influx
of U.S. tourists would be significant in the short term and would boost demand for imported
agricultural products, particularly high-end products for the tourist sector. If both financing and
travel restrictions were lifted, the study found that the largest gains in U.S. exports to Cuba would
be for fresh fruits and vegetables, milk powder, processed foods, wheat, and dry beans.
In 2009, the USITC issued a working paper that updated the agency’s 2007 study on U.S.
agricultural sales to Cuba. The update concluded that if U.S. restrictions on financing and travel
were lifted in 2008, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba would have increased between $216 million
and $478 million and the U.S. share of Cuba’s agricultural imports would have increased from
38% to between 49% and 64%.98 Among the U.S. agricultural products that would have benefited
the most were wheat, rice, beef, pork, processed foods, and fish products.
(...continued)
Inc. “Economic Eye on Cuba,” April 2014.
97
USITC, U.S. Agricultural Sales to Cuba: Certain Economic Effects of U.S. Restrictions, USITC Publication 3932,
July 2007, available at http://www.usitc.gov/ext_relations/news_release/2007/er0719ee1.htm.
98
USITC, U.S. Agricultural Sales to Cuba: Certain Economic Effects of U.S. Restrictions, An Update, Office of
Industries Working Paper, by Jonathan R. Coleman, No. ID-22, June 2009, available at http://www.usitc.gov/
publications/332/working_papers/ID-22.pdf.
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In general, some groups favor further easing restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba. U.S.
agribusiness companies that support the removal of restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba
believe that U.S. farmers are unable to capitalize on a market so close to the United States. Those
who support the lifting of financing restrictions contend such an action would help smaller U.S.
companies increase their exports to Cuba more rapidly. Opponents of further easing restrictions
on agricultural exports to Cuba maintain that U.S. policy does not deny such sales to Cuba, as
evidenced by the large amount of sales since 2001.
Legislative Activity. Over the past several years, there have been legislative efforts to further
ease restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba. For FY2010 and FY2011, Congress included a
provision in omnibus appropriations measures (Division C, Section 619 of P.L. 111-117, and
continued by reference in Division B, Section 1101 of P.L. 112-10) that temporarily overturned
OFAC’s 2005 clarification that TSRA’s requirement for “payment of cash in advance” meant that
the payment for the agricultural goods had to be received prior to the shipment of the goods from
the port at which they were loaded in the United States. U.S. agricultural exporters and some
Members of Congress had objected that OFAC’s 2005 action constituted a new sanction that
violated the intent of TSRA, and jeopardized million in agricultural sales. The legislative
provisions cited above redefined payment of cash in advance for FY2010 and FY2011 to mean
that payment was to be received before the transfer of title to, and control of, the exported items
to the Cuban purchaser. This essentially meant that payment could occur before a shipment was
offloaded in Cuba, rather than before an export shipment left a U.S. port.
For FY2012, Congress did not include a similar provision in the Consolidated Appropriations
Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74). While the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved version of the
FY2012 Financial Services appropriations measure (S. 1573) had a provision that would have
continued the definition of “payment of cash in advance” utilized in FY2010 and FY2011, this
was not included in the final omnibus legislation. The Senate bill also contained another Cuba
provision that would have prohibited restrictions on direct transfers from a Cuban financial
institution to a U.S. financial institution in payment for licensed exports to Cuba. This provision
as well was not included in the omnibus appropriations legislation.
To date in the 113th Congress, one bill has been introduced that includes measures to facilitate the
export of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba, H.R. 873 (Rangel), while three other bills that would
lift the overall embargo, H.R. 214 (Serrano), H.R. 872 (Rangel), and H.R. 1917 (Rush), would lift
restrictions and licensing requirements on U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba.
Trademark Sanction99
For some 15 years, the United States has imposed a trademark sanction specifically related to
Cuba. A provision in the FY1999 omnibus appropriations measure (§211 of Division A, Title II,
P.L. 105-277, signed into law October 21, 1998) prevents the United States from accepting
payment for trademark registrations and renewals from Cuban nationals that were used in
connection with a business or assets in Cuba that were confiscated, unless the original owner of
the trademark has consented. The provision prohibits U.S. courts from recognizing such
trademarks without the consent of the original owner. The measure was enacted because of a
99
For background information, see archived CRS Report RS21764, Restricting Trademark Rights of Cubans: WTO
Decision and Congressional Response, by Margaret Mikyung Lee, March 9, 2004.
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dispute between the French spirits company, Pernod Ricard, and the Bermuda-based Bacardi Ltd.
Pernod Ricard entered into a joint venture in 1993 with the Cuban government to produce and
export Havana Club rum. Bacardi maintains that it holds the right to the Havana Club name
because in 1995 it entered into an agreement for the Havana Club trademark with the Arechabala
family, who had originally produced the rum until its assets and property were confiscated by the
Cuban government in 1960. Although Pernod Ricard cannot market Havana Club in the United
States because of the trade embargo, it wants to protect its future distribution rights should the
embargo be lifted.
The European Union initiated World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement proceedings
in June 2000, maintaining that the U.S. law violates the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property (TRIPS). In January 2002, the WTO ultimately found that the trademark
sanction violated WTO provisions on national treatment and most-favored-nation obligations in
the TRIPS Agreement.100 On March 28, 2002, the United States agreed that it would come into
compliance with the WTO ruling through legislative action by January 3, 2003.101 That deadline
was extended several times since no legislative action had been taken to bring Section 211 into
compliance with the WTO ruling. On July 1, 2005, however, in an EU-U.S. bilateral agreement,
the EU agreed that it would not request authorization to retaliate at that time, but reserved the
right to do so at a future date, and the United States agreed not to block a future EU request.102 In
June 2013, EU officials reportedly raised the issue of U.S. compliance at a WTO Dispute
Settlement Body meeting, maintaining that there has been enough time for the United States to
settle the issue, while U.S. officials maintained that relevant bills were before the U.S.
Congress.103
On August 3, 2006, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced that Cuba’s Havana Club
trademark registration was “cancelled/expired,” a week after OFAC had denied a Cuban
government company the license that it needed to renew the registration of the trademark.104 On
March 29, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia upheld the decision to
deny the renewal of the trademark,105 while in May 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to
hear the case, effectively letting stand the denial to renew the trademark.106
Bacardi began marketing Havana Club rum in the United States in 2006 in limited quantities in
Florida, and Pernod Ricard filed suit that the representation of the origin of the rum was
misleading. In April 2010, a U.S. District Court in Delaware ruled in Bacardi’s favor that the
100
For background, see archived CRS Report RL32014, WTO Dispute Settlement: Status of U.S. Compliance in
Pending Cases, by Jeanne J. Grimmett, April 23, 2012.
101
“U.S., EU Agree on Deadline for Complying with Section 211 WTO Finding,” Inside U.S. Trade, April 12, 2002.
102
World Trade Organization (WTO), “United States—Section 211 Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1998,
Understanding between the European Communities and the United States,” WT/DC176/16, July 1, 2005; WTO,
Dispute Settlement Body, “Minutes of Meeting, Held in the Centre William Rappard on 20 July 2005,”
WT/DSB/M/194, August 26, 2005; and “Japan, EU Suspend WTO Retaliation Against U.S. in Two Cases,” Inside U.S.
Trade, July 15, 2005.
103
“EU, Cuba Spar with U.S. Over ‘Havana Club’ Rum,” Agence France Presse, June 25, 2013.
104
“PTO Cancels Cuban ‘Havana Club’ Mark; Bacardi Set to Sell Rum Under Same Mark,” International Trade Daily,
August 10, 2006.
105
“Pernod Ricard: Havana Club International Encouraged by Dissenting Opinion of Judge Silberman Will Seek
Rehearing by Full Court of Appeals,” Business Wire, March 29, 2011.
106
“Supreme Court Rejects Havana Club Cert Petition,” International Trade Reporter, May 14, 2012.
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labeling was not misleading, and this was reaffirmed by a U.S. Court of Appeals on August 4,
2011.107
Legislative Activity. In Congress, two different approaches have been advocated for a number of
years to bring Section 211 into compliance with the WTO ruling. Some want a narrow fix in
which Section 211 would be amended so that it applies to all persons claiming rights in
trademarks confiscated by Cuba, whatever their nationality, instead of being limited to designated
nationals, meaning Cuban nationals. Advocates of this approach argue that it would treat all
holders of U.S. trademarks equally. Others want Section 211 repealed altogether. They argue that
the law endangers over 5,000 trademarks of over 500 U.S. companies registered in Cuba.108 The
House Committee on the Judiciary held a March 3, 2010, hearing on the “Domestic and
International Trademark Implications of HAVANA CLUB and Section 211 of the Omnibus
Appropriations Act of 2009,” which featured proponents of both legislative approaches. (See
http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_100303.html.)
Several legislative initiatives were introduced during the 112th Congress reflecting these two
approaches to bring Section 211 into compliance with the WTO ruling, but no action was taken
on these measures. In the 113th Congress, identical bills H.R. 778 (Issa) and S. 647 (Nelson)
would apply the narrow fix so that the trademark sanction would apply to all nationals, while four
broader bills lifting U.S. sanctions on Cuba—H.R. 214 (Serrano); H.R. 872 (Rangel); H.R. 873
(Rangel); and H.R. 1917 (Rush)—each have a provision that would repeal the trademark
sanction. The July 2005 EU-U.S. bilateral agreement, in which the EU agreed not to retaliate
against the United States, but reserved the right to do so at a later date, has reduced pressure on
Congress to take action to comply with the WTO ruling.
U.S. Funding to Support Democracy and Human Rights
Since 1996, the United States has provided assistance—through the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID), the State Department, and the National Endowment for Democracy
(NED)—to increase the flow of information on democracy, human rights, and free enterprise to
Cuba.
USAID and State Department efforts are largely funded through Economic Support Funds (ESF)
in the annual foreign operations appropriations bill. From FY1996 to FY2014, Congress
appropriated some $264 million in funding for Cuba democracy efforts. In recent years, this
included $45.3 million for FY2008 and $20 million in each fiscal year from FY2009 through
FY2012, $19.3 million in FY2013, and $20 million in FY2014. The Administration’s FY2015
request is for $20 million.
Generally, as provided in appropriations measures, ESF has to be obligated within two years. In
earlier years, USAID received the majority of this funding, but the State Department also
received funding beginning in FY2004 and in recent years has been allocated slightly more
funding than USAID. The State Department generally has transferred a portion of the Cuba
assistance that it administers to NED. For FY2014, however, Congress stipulated that not less
107
Anandashankar Mazumdar, “Court Rejects Claim that ‘Havana Club’ Ruling Erred in Discounting Survey
Evidence,” International Trade Reporter, August 18, 2011.
108
“USA-Engage Joins Cuba Fight,” Cuba Trader, April 1, 2002.
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than $7.5 million shall be provided directly to NED while not more than $10 million shall be
administered by the State Department; Congress also stipulated that no ESF appropriated under
the Act may be obligated by USAID for any new programs or activities in Cuba (P.L. 113-76).
USAID’s Cuba program has supported a variety of U.S.-based non-governmental organizations
with the goals of promoting a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy, helping develop civil
society, and building solidarity with Cuba’s human rights activists. USAID maintains on its
website that current USAID program partners are: Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, $3.4
million (2011-2014); Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, $3.5 million (2012-2015); International
Relief and Development, $3.5 million (2011-2014); International Republican Institute, $3 million
(2012-2015); National Democratic Institute, $2.3 million (2011-2014); New America Foundation,
$4.3 million (2012-2015); and Pan-American Development Foundation, $3.9 million (20112014). (See USAID’s Cuba program website at http://www.usaid.gov/where-we-work/latinamerican-and-caribbean/cuba.)
FY2012. The Administration requested $20 million in ESF for FY2012 with the promotion of
democratic principles as the core goal of assistance, and Congress supported the full amount in
the conference report to the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.Rept. 112-331 to H.R.
2055, P.L. 112-74). The budget request stated that there was an increased effort to manage
programs more transparently, focus efforts on Cuba, and widen the scope of the civic groups
receiving supports. According to the Administration’s request, U.S. assistance would strengthen a
range of independent elements of Cuban civil society, including associations and labor groups,
marginalized groups, youth, legal associations, and women’s networks. The programs would be
designed to increase the capacity for community involvement of civil society organizations and
networking among the groups. The program would also support Cuban efforts to document
human rights violations, provide humanitarian assistance to political prisoners and their families,
and build leadership skills of civil society leaders. Finally, the budget request maintained that
U.S. assistance also would support the dissemination of information regarding market economies
and economic rights.
The Senate Appropriations Committee-reported version of the FY2012 Department of State,
Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, S. 1601 (S.Rept. 112-85), would
have provided $15 million in ESF for Cuba ($5 million less than the request), including
humanitarian and democracy assistance, support for economic reform, private sector initiatives,
and human rights. In its report to the bill, the committee maintained that it expected that funds
would be made available, and programs carried out, in a transparent manner. The committee also
would have directed that the USAID Administrator provide regular updates to the committee on
the number of Cubans who receive assistance and the types of assistance. In contrast to the Senate
bill, a draft House Appropriations Committee bill and report (marked up by the Subcommittee on
State, Foreign Operations, and Relations Programs on July 27, 2011) would have recommended
$20 million in ESF for Cuba (the full Administration’s request), and would have directed that the
funds be used only for democracy-building, and not for business promotion, economic reform,
social development or other purposes expressly authorized by Section 109(a) of the Cuban
Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-114). (See the draft committee report,
available at http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/FY12-SFOPSCombinedReportCSBA.pdf.)
As notified to Congress in May 2013, of the $20 million in Cuba projects for FY2012, USAID
will administer $9.45 million; the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and
Labor will administer $9.85 million (of which $4 million will be transferred to NED); and the
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State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs will administer $0.7 million. In terms
of the types of programs funded, $2.96 million will be used to support human rights initiatives;
$13.07 million will be used for civil society and media programs; and $3.97 million for be used
for program support.
FY2013. For FY2013, the Administration requested $15 million in ESF for human rights and
democracy programs for Cuba. According to the request, “U.S. assistance will continue to support
human rights and civil society initiatives that promote basic freedoms, particularly freedom of
expression. Programs will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to prisoners of conscience
and their families, as well as strengthen independent Cuban civil society, and promote the flow of
uncensored information to, from, and within the island.”109
The Senate Appropriations Committee-reported version of the FY2013 State Department, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, S. 3241 (S.Rept. 112-172), would have
provided $15 million in ESF for Cuba (the same as the Administration’s request), including “for
humanitarian assistance, support for economic reform, private sector initiatives, democracy, and
human rights.” In contrast, the House Appropriations Committee-reported version of the bill,
H.R. 5857 (H.Rept. 112-94), would have provided $20 million in ESF ($5 million more than
the Administration’s request), but would transfer and merge the aid with funds available to the
National Endowment for Democracy “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in
Cuba.” The report to the House bill maintained that assistance “shall not be used for business
promotion, economic reform, social development, or other purposes not expressly authorized by
section 109(a)” of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (P.L. 104-114).
Congress did not complete action on FY2013 appropriations before the beginning of the fiscal
year, but in September 2012, it approved a continuing resolution (H.J.Res. 117, P.L. 112-175)
that continued FY2013 funding through March 27, 2013, at the same rate for projects and
activities in FY2012, plus an across-the-board increase of 0.612%, although specific country
accounts were left to the discretion of responsible agencies. On March 21, 2013, Congress
completed action on full-year FY2013 appropriations with the approval of H.R. 933 (P.L. 113-6).
This continued FY2013 funding for Cuba democracy programs but funding was also affected by
budget sequestration cutbacks set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25), as
amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (P.L. 112-240). Ultimately, $19.283 million was
appropriated for FY2013 Cuba democracy funding.
FY2014. For FY2014, the Administration again requested $15 million in ESF for Cuba human
rights and democracy projects. According to the budget request, U.S. aid will strengthen
independent Cuban civil by supporting initiatives that promote democracy, human rights, and
fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression. Programs will also provide
humanitarian assistance to victims of political repression and their families and promote the flow
of uncensored information to, from, and within Cuba.110
The Senate Appropriations Committee version of the FY2014 Department of State, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, S. 1372 (S.Rept. 113-81, reported July 25,
109
U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations, FY2013, Annex: Regional
Perspectives, April 3, 2012, p. 768.
110
U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2014, Annex: Regional
Perspectives.
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2013), would have provided that ESF assistance appropriated for Cuba only be made available
“for humanitarian assistance and to support the development of private business.” The House
Appropriations Committee version of the bill, H.R. 2855 (H.Rept. 113-185, reported July 30,
2013) would have provided that $20 million in ESF assistance ($5 million more than the
Administration’s request) be transferred to the National Endowment for Democracy “to promote
democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba.” The report to the House bill stated that such
assistance provided for Cuba “shall not used for business promotion, economic reform, social
development, or other purposes not expressly authorized by section 109(a)” of the of the Cuban
Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (P.L. 104-114).
Congress ultimately completed action on FY2014 appropriations in January 2014 when it enacted
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76), signed into law January 17,
2014. As noted above, the law stated that up to $17.5 million should be made available in ESF for
programs and activities in Cuba and stipulated that no ESF appropriated under the Act may be
obligated by USAID for any new programs or activities in Cuba. The joint explanatory statement
to the bill states that of the $17.5 million, not less than $7.5 million shall be provided directly to
NED, and not more than $10 million shall be administered by the State Department’s Bureau of
Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Ultimately,
however, the Administration is providing an estimated $20 million in ESF for FY2014 Cuba
democracy programs, $5 million more than requested and $2.5 million more than the $17.5
million implied by P.L. 113-76 and its joint explanatory statement.
FY2015. The Administration requested $20 million in ESF for Cuba democracy program in 2015,
the same as being provided in FY2014. According to the foreign aid budget request: “U.S.
assistance will support civil society initiatives that promote democracy, human rights and
fundamental freedoms, particularly freedom of expression. Programs will provide humanitarian
assistance to victims of political repression and their families, strengthen independent Cuban civil
society, and promote the flow of uncensored information to, from, and within the island.” The
request described three key aspects of the program: (1) working with independent elements of
civil society to increase the capacity for community involvement, build networking among civil
society organizations, and build the leadership skills of a future generation of civil society
leaders; (2) facilitating information sharing into and out of Cuba, as well as among civil society
groups on the island, including through the use of new technology; and (3) supporting Cuban-led
efforts to document human rights violations, and providing humanitarian assistance to victims of
political repression and their families.
The House Appropriations Committee-reported FY2015 Department of State, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, H.R. 5013 (H.Rept. 113-499), would make
available $20 million in ESF “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba.” The
report to the bill directed that funds shall not be used for business promotion or economic reform,
and that the criteria used for selecting grantees include “pro-democracy experience inside Cuba.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee-reported version of the measure, S. 2499 (S.Rept. 113195), would provide up to $10 million in ESF for programs in Cuba and an additional $5 million
for USAID programs to provide technical and other assistance to support the development of
private businesses in Cuba.
National Endowment for Democracy. NED is not a U.S. government agency but an
independent nongovernmental organization that receives U.S. government funding. Its Cuba
program is funded by the organization’s regular appropriations by Congress as well as by funding
from the State Department. Until FY2008, NED’s democratization assistance for Cuba had been
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funded largely through the annual Commerce, Justice, and State (CJS) appropriations measure,
but is now funded through the State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Agencies
appropriations measure. As noted above, for FY2014, Congress stipulated that not less than $7.5
million of democracy assistance for Cuba be provided directly to NED for activities and programs
in Cuba. Depending on how much actually flows to NED, this would be at least two times the
$3.4 million that NED spent for its Cuba projects in FY2013.
According to NED, its Cuba funding in recent years has been as follows: $1.4 million in FY2008;
$1.5 million in FY2009; $2.4 million in FY2010; $1.65 million in FY2011; and $2.6 million in
FY2012. In FY2013, NED provided $3.4 million as follows: Afro-Cuban Alliance, Inc. (two
projects); Asociación de Iberoamericanos por la Libertad; Asociación Diario de Cuba; Center for
a Free Cuba; Centro de Investigación y Capacitación de Emprendedores Sociales Asociación
Civil; Centro Democracia y Comunidad; Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América
Latina; Clovek v tisni, o.p.s. – People in Need; Committee for Free and Democratic Cuban
Unions, Incorporated; Cuban Democratic Directorate; Cuban Soul Foundation; Cubanet News
Inc.; Fundación Hispano Cubana; Global Rights (two projects); Grupo Internacional para la
Responsibilidad Social Corporativa en Cuba (two projects); Instituto Cubano por la Libertad de
Expresión y Prensa; Instituto Político para La Libertad Perú; International Platform for Human
Rights in Cuba; Lech Walesa Institute; Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos; Outreach
Aid to the Americas, Inc.; People in Peril Association, CVO; Plataforma de Integración Cubana;
Civic Education (three projects); Human Rights; and Rule of Law (two projects).111
Oversight of U.S. Democracy Assistance to Cuba
GAO has issued several reports since 2006 examining USAID and State Department democracy
programs for Cuba. In 2006, GAO issued a report examining programs from 1996 through 2005,
and concluded that the U.S. program had significant problems and needed better management and
oversight. According to GAO, internal controls, for both the awarding of Cuba program grants
and oversight of grantees, “do not provide adequate assurance that the funds are being used
properly and that grantees are in compliance with applicable law and regulations.”112
Investigative news reports on the program maintained that high shipping costs and lax oversight
had diminished its effectiveness.113
GAO issued a second report in 2008 examining USAID’s Cuba democracy program.114 The report
lauded the steps that USAID had taken since 2006 to address problems with its Cuba program and
improve oversight of the assistance. These included awarding all grants competitively since 2006,
hiring more staff for the program office since January 2008, and contracting for financial services
in April 2008 to enhance oversight of grantees. The GAO report also noted that USAID had
worked to strengthen program oversight through pre-award and follow-up reviews, improving
grantee internal controls and implementation plans, and providing guidance and monitoring about
111
See more on the FY2013 projects available from NED’s website at http://www.ned.org/where-we-work/latinamerica-and-caribbean/cuba.
112
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management
and Oversight, GAO-07-147, November 2006.
113
Oscar Corral, “Federal Program to Help Democracy in Cuba Falls Short of Mark,” Miami Herald, November 14,
2006, and “Is U.S. Aid Reaching Castro Foes?” Miami Herald, November 15, 2006.
114
U.S. GAO, Foreign Assistance: Continued Efforts Needed to Strengthen USAID’s Oversight of U.S. Democracy
Assistance for Cuba, GAO-09-165, November 2008.
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permitted types of assistance and cost sharing. The 2008 GAO report also maintained, however,
that USAID had not staffed the Cuba program to the level needed for effective grant oversight.
GAO recommended that USAID (1) ensure that its Cuba program office is staffed at the level that
is needed to fully implement planned monitoring activities; and (2) periodically assess the Cuba
program’s overall efforts to address and reduce grantee risks, especially regarding internal
controls, procurement practices, expenditures, and compliance with laws and regulations.
More recently, in January 2013, GAO issued its third report on Cuba democracy programs.115 The
report concluded that USAID had improved its performance and financial monitoring of
implementing partners’ use of program funds, but found that the State Department’s financial
monitoring had gaps. Both agencies were reported to be taking steps to improve financial
monitoring. GAO recommended that the Secretary of State take two actions to strengthen the
agency’s ability to monitor the use of Cuba democracy program funds: use a risk-based approach
for program audits that considers specific indicators for program partners; and obtain sufficient
information to approve implementing partners’ use of subpartners.
“Cuban Twitter” Controversy. In early April 2014, an Associated Press investigative report
alleged that USAID, as part of its democracy promotion efforts for Cuba, had established a
“Cuban Twitter” known as ZunZuneo, a communications network designed as a “covert” program
“to undermine” Cuba’s communist government built with “secret shell companies” and financed
through foreign banks. According to the press report, the project, which was used by thousands of
Cubans, lasted more than two years until it ended in 2012.116 USAID, which strongly contested
the report, issued a statement and facts about the ZunZuneo program. It maintained that program
was not “covert,” but rather that, just as in other places works where it is not always welcome, the
agency maintained a “discreet profile” on the project to minimize risk to staff and partners and
work safely.117 Some Members of Congress strongly criticized USAID for not providing
sufficient information to Congress about the program when funding was appropriated, while other
Members strongly defended the agency and the program.
Imprisonment of USAID Subcontractor since December 2009
As noted earlier, USAID subcontractor Alan Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba since December
2009 for his work on a Cuba democracy project designed to provide Cuba’s Jewish community
with communication equipment for wireless Internet connectivity. In March 2011, he was
convicted by a Cuban court in March 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Gross has
remained in prison despite numerous calls for his release on humanitarian grounds by Members
of Congress, the Obama Administration, and many other religious and human rights groups. His
continued imprisonment has been an impediment to an improvement in U.S.-Cuban relations. In
2012, Cuba began linking the release of Alan Gross to the release of the so-called “Cuban five”,
115
U.S. GAO, Cuba Democracy Assistance, USAID’s Program is Improved, but State Could Better Monitor Its
Implementing Partners, GAO-13-285, January 2013.
116
Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum, and Alberto Arce, “U.S. Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest,” Associated
Press, April 3, 2014.
117
USAID, “Statement in Reference to the Associated Press Article on “Cuba Twitter” on April 3, 2014,” Press
Statement, April 3, 2014; “Eight Fact About ZunZuneo,” April 7, 2014, available at http://blog.usaid.gov/2014/04/
eight-facts-about-zunzuneo/.
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who were convicted in the United States for espionage in 2001 (see “Cuban Five” below). The
United States rejects such linkage, maintaining there is no equivalence between the cases.118
Gross was working as a USAID subcontractor for Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a
Bethesda-based company that had received a contract from USAID to help support Cuban civil
society organizations. As part of the project, Gross installed broadband Internet connections for
three Jewish communities in the cities of Havana, Camagüey, and Santiago de Cuba. He was
arrested on December 4, 2009, at Jose Martí International Airport in Havana when he was
planning to leave the country after his fifth trip to Cuba under his subcontract with DAI.
According to a statement at the time by DAI, Gross “was working with a peaceful, non-dissident
civic group—a religious and cultural group recognized by the Cuban government—to improve its
ability to communicate with its members across the island and overseas.”119
After 14 months in prison, a Cuban court in Havana officially charged Gross on February 4, 2011,
with “actions against the independence and territorial integrity of the state” pursuant to Article 91
of Cuba’s Penal Code. After a two-day trial in March 2011, Gross was convicted and sentenced to
15 years in prison. Gross’s lawyer had asked for the Cuban government to release Gross as a
humanitarian gesture, maintaining that his health continued to deteriorate and noting that his
elderly mother had been recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and his daughter was recovering
from cancer treatment. Cuba’s Supreme Court heard arguments for Gross’s appeal on July 22,
2011, but the court rejected the appeal on August 5, 2011.
There had been some hope in April 2012 that Cuba would positively respond to a humanitarian
request by Alan Gross to visit his elderly sick mother in the United States for a period of two
weeks, but this did not occur. In contrast, a U.S. federal judge in Florida granted René González,
one of the so-called “Cuban five” convicted in 2001, the right to visit his dying brother in Cuba
for two weeks.
In September 2012, Judy Gross, the wife of Alan Gross, expressed concern in media reports about
the health of her husband, who had lost more than 100 pounds while in prison, and fears that he
would not survive continued imprisonment. In early October 2012, Judy Gross expressed concern
that her husband could have cancer. In November 2012, the Cuban government maintained that
Gross was in normal health and that a biopsy on a lesion showed that he did not have cancer.
In November 2012, Alan and Judy Gross filed a suit in U.S. District Court against the U.S.
government and his employer, DAI, alleging that they “failed to disclose adequately to Mr. Gross,
both before and after he began traveling to Cuba, the material risks that he faced due to his
participation in the project.”120 DAI ultimately reached an undisclosed settlement with Alan and
Judy Gross on May 16, 2013, while on May 28, 2013, a U.S. federal judge dismissed the lawsuit
against the U.S. government. Gross’s lawyers reportedly will appeal the judge’s dismal.
118
U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, May 11, 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/
05/189753.htm.
119
Development Alternatives Inc. “Updated Statement from DAI President and CEO Dr. James Boomgard Regarding
Detainee in Cuba,” January 7, 2010, available at http://dai.com/news-publications/news/updated-statement-daipresident-and-ceo-dr-james-boomgard-regarding-detainee.
120
David Adams, “American Contractor Jailed in Cuba Sues U.S., Employer for $60 Million,” Reuters, November 16,
2012.
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In the more than four years since Gross has been imprisoned, numerous U.S. officials and
Members of Congress have raised the issue of Alan Gross’s detention with the Cuban government
and have called for his release. In late November 2012, Judy Gross urged President Obama to
give the case top priority and to designate a special envoy to meet with the Cuban government for
her husband’s release.121 On December 3, 2012, the third anniversary of Gross’s imprisonment,
the State Department issued a statement again calling for his release, and asked the Cuban
government to grant Gross’s request to travel to the United States to visit his gravely ill 90-yearold mother. On December 5, 2012, the Senate approved S.Res. 609 (Moran) by voice vote,
marking the first congressional vote on the issue since Gross’s detention. With 31 cosponsors, the
resolution called for the immediate and unconditional release of Gross, and urged the Cuban
government in the meantime to provide all appropriate diagnostic and medical treatment to
address the full range of medical issues facing Mr. Gross and to allow him to choose a doctor to
provide him with an independent medical assessment.
Cuban officials have called for talks with the United States aimed at resolving the Alan Gross
case and continued to link his release to the case of the “Cuban five.” In late May 2013, a high
ranking Cuban foreign ministry official, Josefina Vidal, director for North American Affairs, met
in Washington DC, with State Department official Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary for
Western Hemisphere Affairs, to discuss bilateral issues, including the Gross case. In August 2013,
Cuba allowed a U.S. doctor to visit and examine Gross. As noted above, since 2012, Gross’s
lawyer had been calling for an independent medical examination by a doctor of Gross’s
choosing.122
The State Department maintains that securing the release of Alan Gross remains a top U.S.
priority. On December 3, 2013, the fourth anniversary of Gross’s imprisonment, the State
Department maintained that it was using every appropriate diplomatic channel, both publicly and
privately, to press for Gross’s release. The State Department also reiterated its call for the Cuban
government to release Gross immediately, as did National Security Adviser Susan Rice.123 On
January 14, 2014, in a meeting with the Vatican, Secretary of State Kerry asked for their
assistance in securing the release of Gross.124 The State Department issued a press statement on
May 2, 1014, Gross’s 65th birthday, expressing deep concern about his well-being and again
calling on the Cuban government to release him and allow him to be reunited with his family. The
statement also asserted that Gross’s “detention remains an impediment to more constructive
relations between Cuba and the United States.”125 In June 2014, President Obama asked visiting
Uruguayan President José Mujica to raise the issue of Gross’s release with Raúl Castro. Gross’s
incarceration has been raised by the United States at semi-annual migration talks with Cuba,
including most recently on July 9, 2014.
In early April 2014, Gross went on an nine-day hunger strike in which he was protesting his
treatment by the Cuban and U.S. governments. He maintained that there would be further protests
to come, and that his 91-year old mother had urged him to resume eating.126 Later in April,
Gross’s lawyer, Scott Gilbert, maintained that his client planned to return from Cuba to his family
121
“Judy Gross Urges Action from Obama to Get Husband Released,” EFE News Service, November 30, 2012.
“Cuba Says Imprisoned American in “Normal” Health,” Agence France Presse, November 28, 2012.
123
U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, December 3, 2013.
124
Warren Strobel, “Kerry Asks Vatican to Help Win Release of American Jailed in Cuba,” Reuters, January 14, 2014.
125
U.S. Department of State, “Continued Detention of Alan Gross,” Press Statement, May 2, 2014.
126
“U.S. Government Contractor Jailed in Cuba Ends Hunger Strike,” Reuters, April 11, 2014.
122
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within the year, and that his 65th birthday in Cuba—on May 2, 2014—would be his last because
he would renew a hunger strike if he is not released within the year. Gilbert maintains that Gross’s
imprisonment has taken a toll on his health, with some lost vision in his right eye, a missing
tooth, a limp because of his hips, and weight loss of nearly 110 pounds. He maintained that
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has reiterated Cuba’s “strong interest in sitting down
with officials of the United States at the highest levels to resolve this issue with no
preconditions.”127
In the aftermath of the May 31, 2014, release of five Taliban members from the Guantanamo Bay
detention facility in order to effectuate the release of U.S. prisoner of war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
held captive by the Taliban since 2009, some observers and Members of Congress called for the
Administration to consider similar efforts to secure the release of Alan Gross while others
rejected such an action.128
Gross’s elderly mother died on June 18, 2014, after battling lung cancer, and the United States
urged Cuba to release Gross temporarily so that he could be with his family.129 Gross’s lawyer
and his wife expressed concern in late June 2014 that Gross might try to end his life.130
Radio and TV Marti
U.S.-government sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba—Radio and TV Martí—
began in 1985 and 1990 respectively. According to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)
FY2015 Congressional Budget Request, Radio and TV Martí “inform and engage the people of
Cuba by providing a reliable and credible source of news and information.” The BBG’s Office of
Cuba Broadcasting uses “a mix of media, including shortwave, medium wave, direct-to-home
satellite, Internet, flash drives, and DVDs to help reach audiences in Cuba.”131
Until October 1999, U.S.-government funded international broadcasting programs had been a
primary function of the United States Information Agency (USIA). When USIA was abolished
and its functions were merged into the Department of State at the beginning of FY2000, the BBG
became an independent agency that included such entities as the Voice of America (VOA), Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting
(OCB), which manages Radio and TV Marti. OCB is headquartered in Miami, FL. Legislation in
the 104th Congress (P.L. 104-134) required the relocation of OCB from Washington, DC, to
South Florida. The move began in 1996 and was completed in 1998. (In the 113th Congress, H.R.
4490, approved by the House in July 2014, would abolish the BBG and create a new United
States International Communications Agency, and the OCB would be a part of the new agency.
127
Marc Frank, “Jailed U.S. Contractor in Cuba Warns of Terminal Hunger Strike,” Reuters, April 23, 2014.
See: Bridget Bowman, “Senators Want Answers from Obama on Alan Gross, Warren Weinstein,” CQ News, June 5,
2014; Ruth Marcus, “Still One Left Behind,” (Op-ed), Washington Post, June 4, 2014; “Despite Administration
Denials, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Thinks Obama Wants Cuba Spy-Swap,: Miami Herald, June 4, 2014.
129
Daniel Trotta, “ Mother of U.S. aid contractor Jailed in Cuba Dies,” Reuters News, June 18, 2014.
130
Jessica Chasmar, “American Alan Gross, Jailed in Cuba, ‘Plans to End His Life,’” Washington Times, June 26,
2014; “Wife of Jailed American in Cuba Worries He’ll Take ‘Drastic Measures.’” NPR Morning Edition, June 26,
2014.
131
See the full text of the Broadcasting Board of Governors FY2015 budget request, available at http://www.bbg.gov/
wp-content/media/2014/03/FY-2015-BBG-Congressional-Budget-Request-FINAL-21-March-2014.pdf.
128
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For more information, see CRS Report R43521, U.S. International Broadcasting: Background
and Issues for Reform, by Matthew C. Weed.)
TV Martí programming has been broadcast through multiple transmission methods over the
years. Its broadcasts are transmitted via the Internet and satellite television 24 hours a day, seven
days per week. From its beginning in 1990 until July 2005, TV Martí was broadcast via an
aerostat (blimp) from facilities in Cudjoe Key, FL, for four and one-half hours daily, but the
aerostat was destroyed by Hurricane Dennis. From mid-2004 until 2006, TV Martí programming
was transmitted for several hours once a week via an airborne platform known as Commando
Solo operated by the Department of Defense utilizing a C-130 aircraft. In August 2006, OCB
began to use contracted private aircraft to transmit prerecorded TV Martí broadcasts, and by late
October 2006 the OCB inaugurated an aircraft-broadcasting platform known as AeroMartí with
the capability of transmitting live broadcasts. In recent years, AeroMartí transmitted broadcasts
two and one-half hours for five days weekly, but beginning in May 2013, AeroMartí flights were
curtailed because of the FY2013 budget sequestration.132 Moreover, as noted below, the BBG
proposed eliminating AeroMartí in its FY2013 and FY2014 budget requests because of decreases
in its cost effectiveness, and it was ultimately eliminated in FY2014, according to the BBG.
According to the BBG, the OCB uses multiple web domains and anti-censorship tools such as
web-based proxies to reach Internet users in Cuba. Since 2011, the OCB has used SMS
messaging to communicate with audiences in Cuba, allowing OCB to “push” information to
mobile phone users in Cuba in a manner that is difficult to filter. The OCB’s website,
martinoticias.com, began streaming Radio and TV Martí programming 24 hours a day in 2013. It
has also launched a YouTube Channel, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.
Funding for Cuba Broadcasting
From FY1984 through FY2014, Congress appropriated about $770 million for broadcasting to
Cuba. In recent years, funding amounted to $27.977 million in FY2012, $26.293 million in
FY2013,and an estimated $27.043 million in FY2014. The FY2015 request is for $23.130
million.
FY2012. The Administration requested $28.475 million for Cuba broadcasting in FY2012. The
Senate Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 State Department, Foreign Operations,
and Related Programs Appropriations measure, S. 1601 (S.Rept. 112-85), recommended
$28.181 million in funding for Cuba broadcasting, $294,000 less than the request. In contrast, a
draft House Appropriations Committee report and bill (marked up by the House Appropriations
Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on July 27,
2011) recommended $30.175 million for Cuba broadcasting, $1.7 million more than the request.
(See the draft committee report, available at http://appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/
FY12-SFOPSCombinedReport-CSBA.pdf.) In final action on the FY2012 Consolidated
Appropriations Act (H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74), Congress approved full funding of the
Administration’s $28.475 million request for broadcasting to Cuba. The BBG’s actual spending
for FY2012 funding was $27.977 million.
132
David A. Fahrenthold, “Grounded: TV Martí Plane a Monument to the Limits of American Austerity,” Washington
Post, September 3, 2013.
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FY2013. The Administration requested $23.594 million for Cuba broadcasting in FY2013, almost
$4.5 million lower than FY2012 funding. According to the BBG’s budget request, program
reductions are possible because of OCB’s planned streamlining in the planning and execution of
news coverage and reliance on additional technical support from the BBG’s International
Broadcasting Bureau. The BBG proposed eliminating the AeroMartí platform for a savings of $2
million because of decreases in its cost effectiveness.
The Senate Appropriations Committee-reported FY2013 State Department, Foreign Operations,
and Related Programs Appropriations Act, S. 3241 (S.Rept. 112-172), would have provided
$23.4 million ($194,000 less than the Administration’s request). The committee’s report to the bill
expressed its support for “the proposed reduction in TV Martí operating costs, including the
termination of the Aeromartí contract, as long as such action will not reduce its current broadcast
schedule of 166 weekly hours.” The House Appropriations Committee-reported bill, H.R. 5857
(H.Rept. 112-494), would have provided $28.062 million ($4.468 million more than the
Administration’s request and the same amount provided in FY2012).
As already noted, Congress did not complete action on FY2013 appropriations before the end of
the fiscal year, but in September 2012 it approved a continuing resolution (P.L. 112-175) that
continued funding through March 27, 2013, at the same rate for projects and activities in FY2012
plus an across-the-board increase of 0.612%. On March 21, 2013, Congress completed action on
FY2013 appropriations with the approval of H.R. 933 (P.L. 113-6), but it did not stop funding
reductions caused by sequestration set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25), as
amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act (P.L. 112-240). In its FY2014 Congressional
Budget Request, the BBG maintained that the FY2013 enacted level for Cuba broadcasting was
$28.266 million, but this did not reflect the funding reduction caused by sequestration. (In May
2013, because of sequestration, the OCB curtailed AeroMartí flights that transmitted TV Martí
broadcasts.) The BBG’s actual spending for OCB in FY2013 was $26.293 million.
FY2014. The Administration requested $23.804 million for Cuba broadcasting, about $4.5
million less than that provided in FY2013, although roughly similar to the FY2013 budget request
for Cuba broadcasting. In terms of program reductions, the BBG again proposed eliminating
AeroMartí an aircraft-based broadcast system targeting Havana and surrounding areas, because of
decreases in cost effectiveness. The BBG maintains that the signal is heavily jammed by the
Cuban government, significantly limiting its reach and impact in Cuba. (As noted above, the
OCB curtailed AeroMartí flights beginning in May 2013 because of the FY2013 budget
sequestration.) The OCB would also eliminate the use of two shortwave frequencies at night. The
BBG is also proposing to eliminate seven OCB positions working in a unit that served as a
clearinghouse for research and information on issues related to Cuba. It also proposed reducing
contractors and up to 50 OCB positions. According to the BBG’s budget request, the agency will
seek to execute inter-agency agreements with the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for
International Development to utilize some existing unobligated resources allocated for Cuba
democracy, human rights, and entrepreneurship programs; the BBG would use the resources to
fund OCB’s special TV programming and to maintain a 24 hours per day broadcast schedule.
The House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2014 Department of State, Foreign
Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, H.R. 2855 (H.Rept. 113-185, reported July
30, 2013), would have provided $28.266 million for Cuba broadcasting, about $4.5 million more
than the Administration’s request. In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee version, S.
1372 (S.Rept. 113-81, reported July 25, 2013), would have provided $23.804 million, the same
amount as the Administration’s request.
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Congress ultimately appropriated $27.043 million for Cuba broadcasting when it enacted the
FY2014 omnibus appropriations measure, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76), signed into law January 17,
2014. This amounted to about $3.24 million above the Administration’s request.
FY2015. The Administration requested $23.130 million in FY2015 for the OCB, about $3.9
million less than the estimated amount planned for FY2014. According to the request, the BBG
anticipates that OCB may receive up to a $5 million transferred from the ESF foreign aid
spending account originally appropriated for Cuba democracy programs. According to the BBG,
this would “leverage the well-established relationships on the island by OCB to conduct
activities” in accordance with the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996.
The House Appropriations Committee-reported version of the FY2015 Department of State,
Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, H.R. 5013 (H.Rept. 113-499)
would provide not less than $28.266 million for the OCB, about $5.1 million more than the
request and about $1.2 million more than the FY2014 program level. According to the report to
the bill, the increase above the FY2014 OCB program level “is intended to mitigate the impact of
absorbing transmission and personnel costs.” The Senate Appropriations Committee-reported
version of the appropriations measure, S. 2499 (S.Rept. 113-195), would provide $23.130 million
for the OCB, the same amount requested by the Administration.
Oversight of Radio and TV Martí
Both Radio and TV Martí have at times been the focus of controversies, including questions
about adherence to broadcast standards. There have been various attempts over the years to cut
funding for the programs, especially for TV Martí, which has not had much of an audience
because of Cuban jamming efforts. From 1990 through 2008, there were numerous government
studies and audits of the OCB, including investigations by the GAO, by a 1994 congressionally
established Advisory Panel on Radio and TV Martí, by the State Department Office Inspector
General (OIG), and by the combined State Department/BBG Office Inspector General.133
In January 2009, GAO issued a report asserting that the best available research suggests that
Radio and TV Martí’s audience is small, and cited telephone surveys since 2003 showing that less
than 2% of respondents reported tuning in to Radio or TV Martí during the past week. With
regard to TV Martí viewership, according to the report, all of the IBB’s telephone surveys since
2003 show that less than 1% of respondents said that they had watched TV Martí during the past
week. According to the GAO report, the IBB surveys show that there was no increase in reported
133
See the following reports and audits from 1990 through 2008: U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), Broadcasts
to Cuba, TV Marti Surveys are Flawed, GAO/NSIAD-90-252, August 1990; U.S. GAO, TV Marti, Costs and
Compliance with Broadcast Standards and International Agreements, GAO/NSIAD-92-199, May 1992; U.S. GAO,
Letter to Hon. Howard L. Berman and Hon. John F. Kerry regarding Radio Marti broadcast standards, GAO/NSIAD93-126R, February 17, 1993; Advisory Panel on Radio and TV Marti, Report of the Advisory Panel on Radio and TV
Marti, Three Volumes, March 1994; U.S. GAO, Radio Marti, Program Review Processes Need Strengthening,
GAO/NSIAD-94-265, September 1994; U.S. GAO, U.S. Information Agency, Issues Related to Reinvention Planning
in the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, GAO/NSIAD-96-110, May 1996; U.S. Department of State, Office of the Inspector
General, Review of Policies and Procedures for Ensuring that Radio Marti Broadcasts Adhere to Applicable
Requirements, 99-IB-010, June 1999; U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Office of
Inspector General, Review of the Effectiveness and Implementation of Office of Cuba Broadcasting’s New Program
Initiatives, Report No. IBO-A-03-01, January 2003, and Report of Inspection, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Report No.
ISP-IB 07-35, June 2007; and U.S. GAO, Broadcasting to Cuba, Weaknesses in Contracting Practices Reduced
Visibility into Selected Award Decisions, GAO-08-764, July 2008.
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TV Martí viewership following the beginning of AeroMartí and DirecTV satellite broadcasting in
2006.The GAO report also cited concerns with adherence to relevant domestic laws and
international standards, including the domestic dissemination of OCB programming,
inappropriate advertisements during OCB programming, and TV Martí’s interference with Cuban
broadcasts.134 GAO testified on its report in a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on
International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
on June 17, 2009.
In April 2010, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee majority issued a staff report that
concluded that Radio and TV Martí “continue to fail in their efforts to influence Cuban society,
politics, and policy.” The report cited problems with adherence to broadcast standards, audience
size, and Cuban government jamming. Among its recommendations, the report called for the IBB
to move the Office of Cuba Broadcasting back to Washington and integrate it fully into the Voice
of America.135
In December 2011, GAO issued a report examining the extent to which the BBG’s strategic plan
for broadcasting required by the conference report to the FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations
measure (H.Rept. 111-366 to H.R. 3288/P.L. 111-117) met the requirements established in the
legislation. The BBG strategic plan was required to include (1) an analysis of the current situation
in Cuba and an allocation of resources consistent with the relative priority of broadcasting to
Cuba as determined by the annual Language Service Review and other factors; (2) the estimated
audience sizes in Cuba for Radio and TV Martí and the sources and relative reliability of the data;
(3) the cost of any and all types of TV transmission and the effectiveness of each in increasing
such audience size; (4) the principal obstacles to increasing audience size; (5) an analysis of other
options for disseminating news and information to Cuba and the cost effectiveness of each option;
and (6) an analysis of the program efficiencies and effectiveness that can be achieved through
shared resources and cost saving opportunities in radio and television production between Radio
and TV Martí and the Voice of America. GAO found that the BBG’s strategic plan lacked key
information. Of the six requirements set forth in the conference report, the GAO found that the
BBG’s strategic plan fully addressed item (4) regarding the principal obstacles to increasing
audience sized, but only partially addressed the other five items. The GAO report stated that the
BBG can develop and provide more information to Congress, including an analysis of the cost
savings opportunities of sharing resources between Radio and TV Martí and the Voice of
America’s Latin America Division.136
In May 2012, a controversy occurred involving an editorial by OCB Director Carlos García-Pérez
in which he strongly criticized Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega and referred to the Cardinal as a
“lackey” of the Cuban government.137 The strong language was criticized by several Members of
134
U.S. GAO, Broadcasting to Cuba, Actions Are Needed to Improve Strategy and Operations, GAO-09-127, January
2009.
135
U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Cuba: Immediate Action Is Needed To Ensure the
Survivability of Radio and TV Marti, committee print, 111th Cong., 2nd sess., April 29, 2010, S.Prt. 111-46
(Washington: GPO, 2010).
136
U.S. Government Accountability Office, Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Provide Additional Information
to Congress Regarding Broadcasting to Cuba, December 13, 2011, available at http://www.gao.gov/assets/590/
586869.pdf.
137
William Booth, “U.S. Broadcaster Call Archbishop a Castro “Lackey,” Washington Post, May 6, 2012. The editorial
no longer appears on the website of Radio/TV Martí, but is available at http://porcubaparacuba.blogspot.com/2012/05/
editorial-de-radio-y-tv-marti-acerca.html.
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Congress, who called for the Administration to reject the comments against Cardinal Ortega.138
The editorial raised significant questions about the editorial policy of OCB as well as OCB’s
adherence to broadcast standards.139 Such an editorial, authored by the director of OCB, could
lead one to conclude that the views articulated were those of the U.S. government. BBG’s
Director of Communications and External Affairs Lynne Weil maintained that such “editorials,
unless otherwise stated, represent the views of the broadcasters only and not necessarily those of
the U.S. government.”140
Terrorism Issues141
Cuba was added to the State Department’s list of states sponsoring international terrorism in 1982
(pursuant to Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act of 1979; P.L. 96-72; 50 U.S.C.
Appendix 2504(j)) because of its alleged ties to international terrorism and support for terrorist
groups in Latin America, and it has remained on the list since that time. Cuba had a long history
of supporting revolutionary movements and governments in Latin America and Africa, but in
1992, Fidel Castro said that his country’s support for insurgents abroad was a thing of the past.
Cuba’s change in policy was in large part due to the breakup of the Soviet Union, which resulted
in the loss of billions of dollars in annual subsidies to Cuba, and led to substantial Cuban
economic decline.
Critics of retaining Cuba on the terrorism list maintain that it is a holdover from the Cold War.
They argue that domestic political considerations keep Cuba on the terrorism list and maintain
that Cuba’s presence on the list diverts U.S. attention from struggles against serious terrorist
threats. Those who support keeping Cuba on the terrorism list argue that there is ample evidence
that Cuba supports terrorism. They point to the government’s history of supporting terrorist acts
and armed insurgencies in Latin America and Africa. They point to the government’s continued
hosting of members of foreign terrorist organizations and U.S. fugitives from justice.
In its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 report (issued April 30, 2014), the State Department
stated that Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty
(ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The report noted, however,
that Cuba’s ties to ETA have become more distant and that about eight of the two dozen ETA
members in Cuba were relocated with the cooperation of the Spanish government. With regard to
the FARC, the terrorism report noted that throughout 2012, the Cuban government supported and
hosted peace negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government. As in its 2011 and
2012 reports, the State Department stated in the 2013 terrorism report that “there was no
indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist
groups.”142
138
See a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, from
five Members of Congress, May 8, 2012, available at http://www.democracyinamericas.org/pdfs/ortegaletter.pdf.
139
Authorization legislation establishing both Radio and TV Martí require broadcasting to Cuba to be in accordance
with all Voice of America standards to ensure the broadcast of programs which are objective, accurate, balanced, and
which present a variety of views (§3(b) of P.L. 98-111, as amended, and §243(b) of P.L. 101-246, as amended).
140
William Booth, “U.S. Broadcaster Calls Archbishop a Castro “Lackey,” Washington Post, May 6, 2012.
141
For background information, see archived CRS Report RL32251, Cuba and the State Sponsors of Terrorism List, by
Mark P. Sullivan, August 22, 2006.
142
U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, April 30, 2014.
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Another issue noted in the 2013 terrorism report that has been mentioned for many years in the
annual report is Cuba’s harboring of fugitives wanted in the United States. The report maintained
that Cuba provided such support as housing, food ration books, and medical care for these
individuals. U.S. fugitives from justice in Cuba include convicted murderers and numerous
hijackers, most of whom entered Cuba in the 1970s and early 1980s.143 For example, Joanne
Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list on
May 2, 2013. Chesimard was part of militant group known as the Black Liberation Army. In
1977, she was convicted for the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State Police officer and sentenced
to life in prison. Chesimard escaped from prison in 1979, and according to the FBI, lived
underground before fleeing to Cuba in 1984.144 In addition to Chesimard and other fugitives from
the past, a number of U.S. fugitives from justice wanted for Medicare and other types of
insurance fraud reportedly have fled to Cuba in recent years.145 On November 6, 2013, William
Potts, an American citizen who had hijacked an airplane from New Jersey to Havana in 1984,
returned to the United States to face air-piracy charges; he had served 14 years in a Cuban jail for
his crime.146 In the 113th Congress, H.Res. 262 (King, NY), introduced in June 2013, calls for the
immediate extradition or rendering of convicted felon William Morales and all other fugitives
from justice who are receiving safe harbor in Cuba in order to escape prosecution or confinement
for criminal offenses committed in the United States.
Cuba in recent years has returned wanted fugitives to the United States on a case by case basis.
For example, in 2011, U.S. Marshals picked up a husband and wife in Cuba who were wanted for
a 2010 murder in New Jersey,147 while in April 2013, Cuba returned a Florida couple who had
allegedly kidnapped their own children (who had been in the custody of the mother’s parents) and
fled to Havana.148 However, Cuba has generally refused to render to U.S. justice any fugitive
judged by Cuba to be “political,” such as Chesimard, who they believe could not receive a fair
trial in the United States. Moreover, Cuba in the past has responded to U.S. extradition requests
by stating that approval would be contingent upon the United States returning wanted Cuban
criminals from the United States. These include the return of Luis Posada Carriles, whom Cuba
accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jet that killed 73 people.149 Cuba had also long
sought the return of a militant Cuban exile, Orlando Bosch, whom Cuba also accused of
responsibility for the 1976 airplane bombing (Bosch died in Florida in 2011).
The 2012 terrorism report, issued in May 2013, had noted that Cuba became a member of the
Financial Action Task Force of South America (GAFISUD), a regional group associated with the
multilateral Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in December 2012. As such, Cuba has
committed to adopting and implementing the 40 recommendations of the FATF pertaining to
143
U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, April 30, 2008.
FBI, Most Wanted Terrorists, Joanne Deborah Chesimard, Poster, at http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/wanted_terrorists/
joanne-deborah-chesimard/view.
145
For example, see The United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida, “Thirty-three Defendants
Charged in Staged Automobile Accident Scheme,” Press Release, May 16, 201; Legal Forum, Experts: Florida Couple
May Not Be Welcome in Cuba,” Naples Daily News, April 9, 2013; and Jay Weaver, “FBI Struggling to Catch Dozens
of Fraud Fugitives Hiding in Cuba,” Miami Herald, July 16, 2011.
146
On July 17, 2014, Potts was sentenced to 20 years in jail by a U.S. federal judge in Florida. See: Zachary Fagenson,
“Ex-Black Panther Sentenced to 20 Years for 1980s Hijacking,” Reuters, July 17, 2014.
147
George Mast, “Murder Suspects Caught in Cuba,” Courier-Post (New Jersey), September 30, 2011.
148
Paul Haven and Peter Orsi, “Cuba Says It Will Give U.S. Florida Couple Who Allegedly Kidnapped Children,”
Associated Press, April 9, 2013.
149
For more background on Posada, see CRS Report RS21049, Latin America: Terrorism Issues.
144
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international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and
proliferation.150 Cuba is scheduled to undergo a GAFISUD mutual evaluation in 2014 examining
its compliance and implementation of the FATF recommendations.151
As set forth in Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, a country’s retention on the state
sponsors of terrorism list may be rescinded by the President in two ways. The first option is for
the President to submit a report to Congress certifying that there has been a fundamental change
in the leadership and policies of the government and that the government is not supporting acts of
international terrorism and is providing assurances that it will not support such acts in the future.
The second option is for the President to submit a report to Congress, at least 45 days in advance
justifying the rescission and certifying that the government has not provided any support for
international terrorism during the preceding six-months, and has provided assurances that it will
not support such acts in the future.
Another potential option to remove Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list is set forth in
H.R. 1917 (Rush) introduced in the 113th Congress. Section 10 of the bill would rescind any
determination of the Secretary of State in effect on the date of enactment of the Act that Cuba has
repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism. The bill referenced not only
Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (50 U.S.C. Appendix 2504(j)), but also Section
620A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961(22 U.S.C. 2371) and Section 40 of the Arms Export
Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2780).
A press report in February 2013 claimed that high ranking State Department officials concluded
that Cuba should not be on the state sponsors of terrorism list, but State Department officials
contend that the report was incorrect and that there are no current plans to remove Cuba from the
list.152 The State Department conducts an annual review to see whether a country should be on the
list. Some observers maintain that Cuba’s role in facilitating Colombia’s peace talks could
ultimately be a factor in removing Cuba from the list.
Migration Issues153
Cuba and the United States reached two migration accords in 1994 and 1995 designed to stem the
mass exodus of Cubans attempting to reach the United States by boat. On the minds of U.S.
policy makers was the 1980 Mariel boatlift in which 125,000 Cubans fled to the United States
with the approval of Cuban officials. In response to Fidel Castro’s threat to unleash another
Mariel, U.S. officials reiterated U.S. resolve not to allow another exodus. Amid escalating
numbers of fleeing Cubans, on August 19, 1994, President Clinton abruptly changed U.S.
migration policy, under which Cubans attempting to flee their homeland were allowed into the
United States, and announced that the U.S. Coast Guard and Navy would take Cubans rescued at
150
Financial Action Task Force, International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of
Terrorism & Proliferation, The FATF Recommendations,” February 2012, available at http://www.gafisud.info/
documentos/eng/40_Recommendations.pdf.
151
See the website of the GAFISUD at http://www.gafisud.info/eng-index.php.
152
Bryan Bender, “Talk Grows of Taking Cuba Off Terror List,” Boston Globe, February 21, 2013; U.S. Department of
State, Daily Press Briefing, February 21, 2013.
153
For additional background on migration issues through mid-2009, see CRS Report R40566, Cuban Migration to the
United States: Policy and Trends, by Ruth Ellen Wasem.
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sea to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite the change in policy, Cubans
continued fleeing in large numbers.
As a result, in early September 1994, Cuba and the United States began talks that culminated in a
September 9, 1994, bilateral agreement to stem the flow of Cubans fleeing to the United States by
boat. In the agreement, the United States and Cuba agreed to facilitate safe, legal, and orderly
Cuban migration to the United States, consistent with a 1984 migration agreement. The United
States agreed to ensure that total legal Cuban migration to the United States would be a minimum
of 20,000 each year, not including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
In May 1995, the United States reached another accord with Cuba under which the United States
would parole the more than 30,000 Cubans housed at Guantanamo into the United States, but
would intercept future Cuban migrants attempting to enter the United States by sea and would
return them to Cuba. The two countries would cooperate jointly in the effort. Both countries also
pledged to ensure that no action would be taken against those migrants returned to Cuba as a
consequence of their attempt to immigrate illegally. On January 31, 1996, the Department of
Defense announced that the last of some 32,000 Cubans intercepted at sea and housed at
Guantanamo had left the U.S. Naval Station, most having been paroled into the United States.
Since the 1995 migration accord, the U.S. Coast Guard has interdicted thousands of Cubans at sea
and returned them to their country. Those Cubans who reach shore are allowed to apply for
permanent resident status in one year, pursuant to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (P.L. 89732). In short, most interdictions, even in U.S. coastal waters, result in a return to Cuba, while
those Cubans who touch shore are allowed to stay in the United States. This so-called “wet
foot/dry foot” policy has been criticized by some as encouraging Cubans to risk their lives in
order to make it to the United States and as encouraging alien smuggling. Others maintain that
U.S. policy should welcome those migrants fleeing communist Cuba whether or not they are able
to make it to land.
The number of Cubans interdicted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard rose from 666 in FY2002 to a
high of 2,868 in FY2007. In the three subsequent years, maritime interdictions declined
significantly to 422 by FY2010 (see Error! Reference source not found.). Major reasons for the
decline were reported to include the U.S. economic downturn, more efficient coastal patrolling,
and more aggressive prosecution of migrant smugglers by both the United States and Cuba.154
From FY2011-FY2013, however, the number of Cubans interdicted by the Coast Guard increased
each year, from 985 in FY2011 to 1,357 in FY2013. In FY2014, some 1,170 Cuban migrants
were interdicted as of June 24, 2014.155 Speculation on the reasons for the increase include Cuba’s
poor economic and political situation; the Coast Guard’s more efficient methods of interdiction;
and the easing of the economic situation in the United States, making it easier for the payment of
fees to migrant smugglers.156 The U.S. State Department reports that timely and clear
communication between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Guard (TGF) also has been
154
Alfonso Chardy and Juan Tamayo, “Exodus of Cubans Slowing,” Miami Herald, October 6, 2010.
U.S. Coast Guard, Alien Migrant Interdiction, Coast Guard Office of Law Enforcement, “Total Interdictions, Fiscal
Year 1982 to Present,” June 24, 2014.
156
Alfonso Chardy and Juan O. Tamayo, “Illegal Cuban Migration, After Years of Decline, Is Up Again,” Miami
Herald, Miami Herald, October 8, 2011; Alfonso Chardy and Juan O. Tamayo, “Number of Cubans Trying to Enter
U.S. Increases,” Miami Herald, June 17, 2012.
155
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a factor in increasing the rate of migrant interdiction (from 39% in FY2010 to 60% in FY2013),
with the TGF providing more operationally relevant information than in the past.157
Figure 6. Maritime Interdictions of Cubans by the U.S. Coast Guard, FY2002-FY2014
As of June 24, 2014
3500
2,810
3000
2,868
2,712
2500
2,216
2000
1,555
1500
1000
1,357
1,275
1,225
985
799
1,170
666
422
500
0
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Source: Created by CRS using information provided by the United States Coast Guard, Alien Migrant
Interdiction, “Total Interdictions – Fiscal Year 1982 to Present,” June 24, 2014, current statistics available at
http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg531/AMIO/FlowStats/FY.asp.
Despite the U.S. Coast Guard’s maritime interdiction program, thousands of unauthorized Cubans
reach the United States each year, either by boat or, especially, at land ports of entry. U.S. Border
Patrol apprehensions between ports of entry (largely coastal Florida) of unauthorized Cubans
were 910 in FY2009, 712 in FY2010, 959 in FY2011, and 606 in FY2012. These statistics are
significantly lower than the FY2005-FY2008 period when Border Patrol apprehensions of
Cubans averaged over 3,700 each year.158
According to the State Department, Cubans continue to favor land-based entry at U.S. ports of
entry, especially from Mexico, even though Mexico and Cuba negotiated a migration accord in
2008 an attempt to curb the irregular flow of Cuban migrants through Mexico. In FY2012, 11,383
Cubans presented themselves at land border ports of entry (with more than 90% at the southwest
border), while in FY2013, that figure rose to 14,251 Cubans (with 85% at the southwest
border).159 Press reports indicate that the number of Cubans entering the United States via the
southwest border is increasing further in FY2014, with more than 13,500 as of July 2014.160
157
U.S. Department of State, “Cuban Compliance with the Migration Accords, (October 2013 to April 2014),” Report
to Congress, May 7, 2014.
158
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, “Apprehensions by the U.S. Border Patrol:
2005-2010,” July 2011; FY2011 and FY2012 statistics provided to CRS by U.S. Border Patrol.
159
U.S. Department of State, “Cuban Compliance with the Migration Accords, (October 2013 to April 2014),” Report
to Congress, May 7, 2014.
160
Patricia Zengerle and David Adams, “U.S. Turns Back Central Americans, Welcomes ‘Dusty Foot’ Cubans,”
Reuters, July 30, 2014.
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Semi-annual U.S.-Cuban talks alternating between Cuba and the United States were held on the
implementation of the 1994/1995 migration accords until they were suspended by the United
States in 2004. The Obama Administration re-started the talks in 2009, and there were four rounds
of talks until January 2011. In addition to migration issues, the talks became a forum to raise
other issues of concern, including, for U.S. officials, the imprisonment of Alan Gross.
After an 18-month hiatus, another round of migration talks was held on July 17, 2013 in
Washington, DC. After the talks, the State Department issued a statement maintaining that the
agenda reflected long-standing U.S. priorities on Cuba migration issues and highlighted areas of
successful cooperation in migration, including advances in aviation safety and visa processing
and identifying needed actions to ensure that the goals of the accord are fully met, especially with
regard to safeguarding the lives of intending immigrants. The State Department also reiterated the
call for the immediate release of Alan Gross. The Cuban delegation maintained that the meeting
took place in a climate of respect and reviewed joint actions to deter illegal migration and alien
smuggling. The delegation also noted that Cuba had recently (June 20, 2013) ratified the
“Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air,” and the Protocol to Prevent,
Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children,” both supplements
to the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The delegation also said that
alien smuggling could not be eliminated as long as the U.S. “wet foot/dry foot policy” and the
Cuban Adjustment Act were in place encouraging illegal immigration.
Since then, two more rounds of migration talks have been held—on January 9, 2014, and July 9,
2014. Following the talks, both sides issued positive statements noting the issues covered. The
State Department noted that the agenda for the meetings included cooperation on aviation
security, search and rescue, consular document fraud, and visa processing.161 Cuba’s Ministry of
Foreign Affairs reported that it expressed concern about difficulties with its consular services in
the United States because of the interruption of its banking services. The Cuban delegation also
expressed satisfaction that both governments had agreed earlier in July to enforce technical
operation procedures for search and rescue operations in order to saves lives.162
On two occasions since late 2013, Cuba had suspended its consular services (e.g., passports,
passport renewals, visas) in the United States because it has not been able to find a replacement
financial institution to replace M&T Bank, which had decided to stop offering bank services to
Cuba’s diplomatic missions. According to press reports, the State Department has maintained that
it has been working with Cuba to help resolve the issue. The first suspension of services began
November 26, 2013, but the services were restored on December 9 after M&T Bank postponed
closing the accounts of its diplomatic missions in Washington, DC, and New York until March 1,
2014. The second suspension of services began on February 14, 2014, but Cuba’s diplomatic
missions in the United States reportedly had again resumed all consular services by mid-May
2014 even though Cuba had reportedly still not found a bank to replace M&T.163
161
U.S. Department of State, “Migration Talks with Cuba,” Press Statement, January 10, 2014; Republic of Cuba,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Press Release Issued by the Cuban delegation to the Round of Migration Talks with the
United States,” January 9, 2014; and U.S. Department of State, “Migration Talks with Cuba,” Press Statement, July 9,
2014.
162
Cuban Interests Section in USA, “New Round of Migration Talks Held Between United States and Cuba,” Press
Release, July 9, 2014.
163
U.S. Department of State, “Migration Talks with Cuba,” January 10, 2014; Republic of Cuba, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, “Press Release Issued by the Cuban delegation to the Round of Migration Talks with the United States,”
January 9, 2014; and Juan O. Tamayo, “Cuba Resumes Processing All Consular Affairs,” Miami Herald, May 15,
(continued...)
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Cuba Alters Its Policy Regarding Exit Permits
In October 2012, the Cuban government announced that it would be updating its migration policy,
effective January 14, 2013, by eliminating the long-standing policy of requiring an exit permit
and letter of invitation from abroad for Cubans to travel abroad. Cubans are now able to travel
abroad with just an updated passport and a visa issued by the country of destination, if required.
Under the change in policy, Cubans can travel abroad for up to two years without forgoing their
rights as Cuban citizens. The practice of requiring an exit permit had been extremely unpopular in
Cuba and the government had been considering doing away with the practice for some time.
The Cuban government said that it would fight against “brain drain,” and that the new policy
would not apply to scientists, athletes, and other professionals. In early January 2013, however,
the Cuban government announced that the new travel policy would also apply to health care
professionals, including doctors.
When the new policy went into effect on January 14, 2013, thousands of Cubans lined up at
government migration offices and travel agencies. Travel under the new policy requires an
updated passport as well as any visas required by the receiving countries. A U.S. State
Department spokesman said that it welcomed any changes that would allow Cubans to depart
from and return to their country freely. According to the State Department, Cuba’s announced
change is consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in that everyone should
have the rights to leave any country, including their own, and return.164
As noted above, Internet blogger Yoani Sánchez and several other prominent dissidents and
human rights activists have traveled abroad because of Cuba’s new migration policy. In light of
Cuba’s new travel policy, some analysts have raised the question as to whether the United States
should review its policy toward Cuban migrants, as set forth in the Cuban Adjustment Act of
1966 (P.L. 89-732), in which those Cubans arriving in the United States are allowed to apply for
permanent resident status in one year.165
Effective August 1, 2013, the State Department made non-immigrant B-2 visas issued to Cubans
for family visits, tourism, medical treatment, or other personal travel valid for five years with
multiple entries. Previously these visas had been restricted to single entry for six months, and an
extensive visa interview backlog had developed at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. State
Department officials maintain that the change increases people-to-people ties and removes
procedural and financial burdens on Cuban travelers.166
(...continued)
2014.
164
U.S. Department of State, “Daily Press Briefing,” October 16, 2012.
165
David Adams and Tom Brown, “Cuban Perks Under Scrutiny in U.S. Immigration Reform,” Reuters News,
February 8, 2013; Stephen Johnson “Recommendations for the New Administration: Interests, Policies, and Challenges
in the Americas,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 21, 2012; and Philip Peters, “Migration
Policy Reform: Cuba Gets Started, U.S. Should Follow,” Lexington Institute, December 2012.
166
Mimi Whitfield, “U.S. Begins New Multiple-Entry Visa Program for Cuban Visitors,” Miami Herald, August 1,
2013; Marc Frank, “Cubans Welcome New U.S. Visa Policy, Government Largely Silent,” Reuters News, August 2,
2013; and U.S. Department of State, United States Interest Section, Havana, Cuba, “Important Notice: Increase in B-2
Visa Validity,” available at http://havana.usint.gov/visa_appointment_information.html.
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Anti-Drug Cooperation
Cuba is not a major producer or consumer of illicit drugs, but its extensive shoreline and
geographic location make it susceptible to narcotics smuggling operations. Drugs that enter the
Cuban market are largely the result of onshore wash-ups from smuggling by high-speed boats
moving drugs from Jamaica to the Bahamas, Haiti, and the United States or by small aircraft from
clandestine airfields in Jamaica. For a number of years, Cuban officials have expressed concerns
over the use of their waters and airspace for drug transit and about increased domestic drug use.
The Cuban government has taken a number of measures to deal with the drug problem, including
legislation to stiffen penalties for traffickers, increased training for counternarcotics personnel,
and cooperation with a number of countries on anti-drug efforts.
According to the State Department’s 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
(INCSR), issued February 28, 2014, Cuba has a number of anti-drug-related agreements in place
with other countries, including 35 bilateral agreements for counterdrug cooperation and 27
policing cooperation agreements. Since 1999, Cuba’s Operation Hatchet has focused on maritime
and air interdiction and the recovery of narcotics washed up on Cuban shores. As reported in the
INCSR, Cuba reported interdicting 3.05 metric tons of illegal narcotics in 2012, with the
overwhelming majority consisting of wash ups. Since 2003, Cuba has aggressively pursued an
internal enforcement and investigation program against its incipient drug market with an effective
nationwide drug prevention and awareness campaign.
Over the years, there have been varying levels of U.S.-Cuban cooperation on anti-drug efforts. In
1996, Cuban authorities cooperated with the United States in the seizure of 6.6 tons of cocaine
aboard the Miami-bound Limerick, a Honduran-flag ship. Cuba turned over the cocaine to the
United States and cooperated fully in the investigation and subsequent prosecution of two
defendants in the case in the United States. Cooperation has increased since 1999 when U.S. and
Cuban officials met in Havana to discuss ways of improving anti-drug cooperation. Cuba
accepted an upgrading of the communications link between the Cuban Border Guard and the U.S.
Coast Guard as well as the stationing of a U.S. Coast Guard Drug Interdiction Specialist (DIS) at
the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. The Coast Guard official was posted to the U.S. Interests
Section in September 2000, and since that time, coordination has increased.
According to the 2014 INCSR, the Coast Guard shares tactical information related to narcotics
trafficking on a case by case basis, and responds to Cuban information on vessels transiting
through Cuban territorial seas suspected of smuggling. The report maintained that law
enforcement communication gradually increased in frequency and transparency in 2013,
especially concerning efforts to target drug trafficking at sea. The United States and Cuba held a
“professional exchange between experts” on maritime drug interdiction that included tours of
facilities, unit capabilities, and possible future joint coordination.
Cuba maintains that it wants to cooperate with the United States to combat drug trafficking, and
on various occasions has called for a bilateral anti-drug cooperation agreement with the United
States.167 In the 2011 INCSR (issued in March 2011) the State Department acknowledged that
167
On March 12, 2002, Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington delivered
three diplomatic notes to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana and the State Department in Washington proposing
agreements on drug interdiction, terrorism, and migration issues. See “Statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Prominent Drug Trafficker Arrested in our Country,” Information Office, Cuban Interests Section, March 17, 2002;
“Cuba Offers to Sign Anti-Drug Pact,” Miami Herald, April 8, 2006.
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Cuba had presented the U.S. government with a draft bilateral accord for counternarcotics
cooperation that is still under review. According to the State Department in the INCSR:
“Structured appropriately, such an accord could advance the counternarcotics efforts undertaken
by both countries.” The report maintained that greater cooperation among the United States,
Cuba, and its international partners—especially in the area of real-time tactical informationsharing and improved tactics, techniques, and procedures—would likely lead to increased
interdictions and disruptions of illegal trafficking. These positive U.S. statements regarding a
potential bilateral anti-drug cooperation agreement and greater multilateral cooperation in the
region with Cuba were reiterated in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 INCSRs.
At a February 1, 2012, hearing before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control on
U.S.-Caribbean security cooperation, Caucus Chairman Senator Dianne Feinstein stated that “this
limited cooperation we do have between our Coast Guard and Cuban authorities has been very
useful, and I hope we can find ways to increase our counternarcotics cooperation with Cuba.”168
The caucus released a report on September 13, 2012, in which Senator Feinstein recommended
that the Obama Administration consider taking four steps to increase U.S. collaboration with
Cuba on counternarcotics: (1) expand the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement presence at the
U.S. Interests Section in Havana; (2) establish protocols for direct ship-to-ship communication
between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Cuban Border Guard; (3) negotiate a bilateral
counternarcotics agreement with Cuba; and (4) allow for Cuba’s participation in the U.S.Caribbean Security Dialogue.169
Cuba’s Offshore Oil Development
Cuba suffered setbacks in 2012 in working toward development of its offshore oil resources when
three attempts by foreign oil companies drilling wells were unsuccessful. While the country has
proven oil reserves of just 0.1 billion barrels, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that offshore
reserves in the North Cuba Basin could contain an additional 4.6 billion barrels of undiscovered
technically recoverable crude oil. If oil is found, some experts estimate that it would take at least
three to five years before production would begin.
While it is unclear whether eventual offshore oil production could result in Cuba becoming a net
oil exporter, it could reduce Cuba’s current dependence on Venezuela for oil supplies. As noted
above, Venezuela provides Cuba with some 100,000 barrels of oil per day. In 2012, Cuba
produced about 51,000 barrels of oil per day on its own, with most production occurring onshore,
and consumed 171,000 barrels of oil per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information
Administration.170
Cuba has had several offshore deepwater oil projects involving foreign companies in some 23
exploration blocs.
168
“Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control Holds Hearing on Drug-Related Violence in the Caribbean and
U.S. Security Assistance Through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative,” CQ Congressional Transcripts, February 1,
2012.
169
U.S. Congress, Senate United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Preventing a Security Crisis
in the Caribbean, 112th Cong., 2nd sess., September 2012, pp. 38-40, available at http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/
public/index.cfm/files/serve/?File_id=90bb66bc-3371-4898-8415-fbfc31c0ed24.
170
U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Country Analysis Note: Cuba,” November 2013.
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•
The Spanish oil company Repsol, in a consortium with Norway’s Statoil and
India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), began offshore exploratory
drilling in late January 2012, using an oil rig known as the Scarabeo-9 (owned by
an Italian oil services provider, Saipem, a subsidiary of the Italian oil company
ENI). On May 18, 2012, however, Repsol announced that its exploratory well
came up dry, and the company subsequently departed Cuba in 2013.
•
In late May 2012, the Scarabeo-9 oil rig was used by the Malaysian company
Petronas in cooperation with the Russian company Gazprom to explore for oil in
a block off the coast of western Cuba. On August 6, 2012, however, Cuba
announced that that the well was found not to be commercially viable because of
its compact geological formation.
•
In September 2012, the Venezuelan oil company, PdVSA, announced that it had
started exploring for oil off the coast of western Cuba, but on November 2, 2012,
Cuba announced that the well was not commercially viable.
•
Brazil’s Petrobras signed an agreement in 2008 for the development of an
offshore block, but announced its withdrawal in March 2011.
•
Other foreign oil companies that have had exploration agreements for offshore
blocks include PetroVietnam, Sonangol (Angola), and ONGC (India).
•
Russian energy companies Rosneft and Zarubezhneft signed an agreement with
Cuba’s state oil company CubaPetroleo (Cupet) on July 11, 2014, reportedly for
the same exploration block that Petrobras had been involved in.
As a result of the three unsuccessful wells in 2012, the Scarabeo-9 oil rig left Cuba in November
2012. Most observers maintain that the failure of the three wells was a significant setback for the
Cuban government’s efforts to develop its deepwater offshore hydrocarbon resources.171 Some oil
experts maintain that it could be years before companies decide to return to drill again in Cuba’s
offshore deepwaters. 172 While Russian energy companies Rosneft and Zarubezhneft have recently
agreed to work jointly on an offshore block, some observers are skeptical about the prospects for
the project.
In December 2012, Zarubezhneft began drilling an exploratory oil well in a north coastal block
(in shallow waters, not deepwater exploration) east of Havana off Cayo Coco, a Cuban tourist
resort area.173 The project was expected to be completed by June 2013, but because of technical
problems with the rig and difficult geology, the oil rig being used (known as the Songa Mercur
operated by Songa Offshore, a Norwegian oil rig company) stopped work in early April 2013, and
left Cuba in June 2013.174
171
“Cuba Offshore Oil Search Fails for a Third Time,” Agence France Presse, November 2, 2012; “PdVSA Has Third
Dry Well in Cuba Deepwater Exploration: Report,” Platts Commodity News, November 2, 2012.
172
Jeff Franks, “Drilling Rig Leave Cuba, Taking Oil Hopes With It,” Reuters News, November 14, 2012, Peter Orsi,
“Cuba Says 3rd Deep-Water Oil Well Sunk This Year Not Commercially Viable,” AP Newswire, November 2, 2012.
173
“Russia’s Zarubezhneft Drills Exploration Well in Cuban Offshore Block L,” Platts Commodity News, December
19, 2012.
174
“Russian Offshore Drilling to End Earlier than Anticipated,” Cubastandard.com, April 19, 2013; and “Zarubezhneft
Halts Cuba Drilling,” The Oil Daily, April 24, 2003; “Zurubezhneft Gives Up Drilling Effort Off Cuba’s Coast,”
Moscow Times, June 4, 2013.
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Cooperation on Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, and Response
In the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, some Members of
Congress and others expressed concern about Cuba’s development of its deepwater petroleum
reserves so close to the United States. They were concerned about oil spill risks and about the
status of disaster preparedness and coordination with the United States in the event of an oil spill.
Dealing with these challenges is made more difficult because of the long-standing poor state of
relations between Cuba and the United States. If an oil spill did occur in the waters northwest of
Cuba, currents in the Florida Straits could carry the oil to U.S. waters and coastal areas in Florida,
although a number of factors would determine the potential environmental impact. If significant
amounts of oil did reach U.S. waters, marine and coastal resources in southern Florida could be at
risk.
The final report of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore
Drilling, issued in January 2011, maintained that since Mexico already drills in the Gulf of
Mexico and Cuba has expressed an interest in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, that it is
in the U.S. national interest to negotiate with these countries to agree on a common, rigorous set
of standards, a system of regulatory oversight, and operator adherence to an effective safety
culture, along with protocols to cooperate on containment and response strategies in case of a
spill.175
With regard to disaster response coordination, while the United States and Cuba are not parties to
a bilateral agreement on oil spills, both countries are signatories to multilateral agreements that
commit the two parties to prepare for and cooperate on potential oil spills. Under the auspices of
the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United States and Cuba have participated in
regional meetings every few months since 2011 regarding oil spill prevention, preparedness, and
response that have allowed information sharing among nations, including the United States and
Cuba. Other countries participating have included Mexico, the Bahamas, and Jamaica. After
numerous rounds of meetings, in March 2014, the countries finalized a document known as the
Wider Caribbean Region Multilateral Technical Operating Procedures for Offshore Oil Pollution
Response (MTOP), which consists of information of what would need to be done and coordinated
in the case of international response to an oil spill.176
U.S. oil spill mitigation companies can be licensed by the Treasury and Commerce Departments
to provide support and equipment in the event of an oil spill. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard
has obtained licenses from Treasury and Commerce that allow it “to broadly engage in
preparedness and response activities, and positions” the agency “to direct an immediate response
in the event of a catastrophic oil spill.”177 Some energy and policy analysts, however, have called
175
National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, Deepwater, The Gulf Oil
Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, p. 254 and p. 300. See the full text of the report at
http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/sites/default/files/documents/DEEPWATER_ReporttothePresident_FINAL.pdf.
176
International Maritime Organization, Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Center for the
Wider Caribbean (REMPEITC-Caribe), Wider Caribbean Region, Multilateral Technical Operating Procedures for
Offshore Oil Pollution Response (MTOP), March 2014, available at http://cep.unep.org/racrempeitc/regional-oprcplans/Final_MTOP_Public_version.pdf; Paul Guzzo, “U.S., Cuba Join Caribbean Nations in Oil Cleanup Pact,” Tampa
Tribune, March 17, 2014.
177
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime
Transportation, Offshore Drilling in Cuba and the Bahamas: The U.S. Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Readiness and Response
Planning, 112th Cong., 2nd sess., January 30, 2012, 112-70 (Washington: GPO, 2012). Testimony of Rear Admiral
William Baumgartner, Commander, Seventh District, and Rear Admiral Cari Thomas, Director of Policy Response,
(continued...)
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for the Administration to ease regulatory restrictions on private companies for the transfer of U.S.
equipment and personnel to Cuba needed to prevent and combat a spill if it occurs.
Interest in Cuba’s offshore oil development was strong in the 112th Congress, particularly over
concerns about a potential oil spill, with three congressional hearings held and eight legislative
initiatives introduced taking different approaches, none of which were enacted. The various
policy approaches included sanctioning foreign companies investing in or supporting Cuba’s oil
development; requiring the Secretary of the Interior to make recommendations on a joint
contingency plan with Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas to ensure an adequate response to oil
spills; and authorizing U.S. companies to engage in oil spill prevention and clean-up activities in
Cuba’s offshore oil sector as well as broader exploration and extraction activities.
Cuban Spies
Since 2000, some 15 individuals, including two U.S. government officials, have been convicted
in the United States on charges involving spying for Cuba.178 In June 2009, the FBI arrested a
retired State Department employee and his wife, Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn
Steingraber Myers, for spying for Cuba for three decades. The two were accused of acting as
agents of the Cuban government and of passing classified information to the Cuban government.
In November 2009, the Myerses pled guilty to the spying charges, and in July 2010 Kendall
Myers was sentenced to life in prison while Gwendolyn Myers was sentenced to 81 months.179
In 2006, Florida International University (FBI) professor Carlos Alvarez pled guilty to conspiring
to be an unregistered agent who had reported on the Cuban exile community, while his wife Elsa
Prieto Alvarez, an FIU counselor, pled guilty to being aware of and failing to disclose her
husband’s activities. Carlos Alvarez received a five-year sentence, while his wife received three
years.
In May 2003, the Bush Administration ordered the expulsion of 14 Cuban diplomats (7 from New
York and 7 from Washington, DC), maintaining that they were involved in monitoring and
surveillance activities.180 The U.S. intelligence community reportedly had been incensed that
Cuba’s spies had been stealing information on preparations for the U.S. invasion of Iraq and
passing them to the Iraqi government.181
On September 21, 2001, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Ana Montes was arrested on
charges of spying for the Cuban government. Montes reportedly supplied Cuba with classified
(...continued)
U.S. Coast Guard, available at http://republicans.transportation.house.gov/Media/file/TestimonyCGMT/2012-01-30BaumgartnerThomas.pdf.
178
For background, see Stéphane Lefebvre, “Cuban Intelligence Activities Directed at the United States, 1959-2007,”
International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, June 2009.
179
Del Quentin Wilber, “Former U.S. Official, Wife Admit to 30 Years of Spying for Cuba,” Washington Post,
November 21, 2009; and Spencer S. Hsu, “Man Who Spied for Cuba Gets Life,” Washington Post, July 18, 2010.
180
“U.S. Orders Expulsion of 14 Cuban Diplomats,” Dow Jones International News, May 13, 2003; Juan O. Tamayo,
“Names of 7 Expelled Cuban Spies Revealed,” Miami Herald, September 21, 2011.
181
Juan O Tamayo, “Names of 7 Expelled Cuban Spies Revealed; The U.S. Had Kept Secret the Names of Seven
Alleged Cuban Spies Who Were Expelled in 2003,” Miami Herald, September 21, 2011.
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information about U.S. military exercises and other sensitive operations.182 Montes ultimately
pled guilty to spying for the Cuban government for 16 years, during which she divulged the
names of four U.S. government intelligence agents working in Cuba and information about a
“special access program” related to U.S. national defense. She was sentenced in October 2002 to
25 years in prison in exchange for her cooperation with prosecutors as part of a plea bargain. In
response to the espionage case, the State Department ordered the expulsion of four Cuban
diplomats (two from Cuba’s U.N. Mission in New York and two from the Cuban Interests Section
in Washington, DC) in November 2002.
In another case related to that of Ana Montes, in April 2013, the Department of Justice unsealed a
2004 indictment charging a former USAID official, Marta Rita Velazquez, with espionage
stemming from her role in introducing Montes to the Cuban Intelligence Service in 1984,
facilitating Montes’s recruitment by Cuban intelligence, and helping Montes gain employment at
the DIA. Velazquez joined USAID in 1989 serving as a legal office with responsibilities
encompassing Central America, and was also posted to U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua and
Guatemala.183 She resigned from USAID in June 2002 when it was announced that Montes had
pled guilty, and moved to Sweden where she remains.184
Cuban Five—Now Three
In June 2001, five members of the so-called “Wasp Network” originally arrested in September
1998 were convicted on espionage charges by a U.S. Federal Court in Miami.185 Sentences
handed down for the “Cuban five” in December 2001 ranged from 15 years to life in prison for
three of the five. The group of five Cuban intelligence agents—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón
Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González—penetrated Cuban exile
groups and tried to infiltrate U.S. military bases.
All five were convicted for various offenses, including acting and conspiring to act as
unregistered Cuban intelligence agents in the United States; fraud and misuse of identity
documents; and in the case of three (Hernández, Labañino, and Guerrero), conspiracy to gather
and transmit national defense information. The five did not deny acting as unregistered Cuban
agents, but maintain that their role was to focus on Cuban exile groups responsible for hostile acts
against Cuba and potential signs of U.S. military action against Cuba.186
Gerardo Hernández, who received two life sentences, also was convicted for conspiracy to
commit murder for the alleged role he played in the deaths of four pilots of the Cuban American
group, Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR), when two small planes they were flying were shot down
182
Bill Miller and Walter Pincus, “Defense Analyst Accused of Spying for Cuba,” Woman Passed Classified
Information on Military Exercises, FBI Says,” Washington Post, September 22, 2001.
183
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, “Unsealed Indictment Charges Former U.S. Federal Employee
with Conspiracy to Commit Espionage for Cuba,” April 25, 2013.
184
Scott Stewart, “The Cuban Spy Network in the U.S. Government,” Stratfor, May 2, 2013.
185
The “Wasp Network (La Red Avispa) was a spy ring that operated in South Florida since 1992 under the direction of
Cuban’s foreign intelligence service. Five additional members of the ring—all U.S. citizens—were convicted in 2000
on lesser charges, with sentences ranging from three and one-half years to seven years (Lefebvre, op. cit.). Another 20
members of the “Wasp network” reportedly were able to escape to Cuba before they could be arrested or went
underground in the United States (Brian Latell, Castro’s Secrets, The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine, New
York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, pp. 70-71).
186
Amnesty International, USA, The Case of the “Cuban Five,” 2010.
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by the Cuban Air Force in February 1996. The group was known primarily for its humanitarian
mission of spotting Cubans fleeing their island nation on rafts, but had also become active in
flying over Cuba and dropping anti-government leaflets.
The Cuban government vowed to work for the return of the “Cuban five,” who have been dubbed
“Heroes of the Republic” by Cuba’s National Assembly.187 In December 2008, Cuban President
Raúl Castro offered to exchange some imprisoned Cuban political dissidents for the “Cuban
five,” an offer that was rejected by the State Department, which maintained that the dissidents
should be released immediately without any conditions.
In June 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court chose not to hear an appeal of the case of the “Cuban five”
in which their lawyers were asking for a new trial outside Miami before an unbiased jury. Later in
2009, however, sentences for three of the five were reduced: Ramón Labañino had his life
sentence reduced to 30 years; Antonio Guerrero had his life sentence reduced to 21 years and 10
months; and Fernando González had his 19-year sentence reduced to 17 years and 9 months. The
sentence of two life terms for Gerardo Hernández, however, was not reduced.
To date, two of the “Cuban five” have been released from prison after serving their sentences
(with time off for good behavior) and returned to Cuba. René González, who received a 15-year
sentence, was released from prison in October 2011 because of time off for good behavior, but
still faced three years of probation; a judge ruled that he had to serve it in the United States. In
March 2012, González was allowed by a federal judge in Florida to visit his dying brother in
Cuba for a period of two weeks, after which he returned to the United States. González was
permitted to return to Cuba on April 22, 2013, for a period of two weeks in the aftermath of his
father’s death, but a U.S. federal judge ruled in early May 2003 that González could stay in Cuba
if he renounced his U.S. citizenship (he was a dual national), which he subsequently did at the
U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Fernando González was released on February 27, 2014, and was
swiftly returned to Cuba a day later, where he received a hero’s welcome. Of the three remaining
members of the “Cuban five,” Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino potentially could be
released in 2017 and 2024, respectively, while Gerardo Hernández continues to face two life
terms.
In 2012, Cuba began linking the release of the “Cuban five” to the release of Alan Gross, the U.S.
government subcontractor detained in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his work on
U.S. government-sponsored democracy projects. The United States has rejected such linkages,
maintaining there is no equivalence between the cases,188 and U.S. officials have repeatedly called
for Gross’s release on humanitarian grounds. (Also see “Imprisonment of USAID Subcontractor
since December 2009” above.)
187
Cuba has also led an international campaign to call attention to the “Cuban five,” and exert pressure on the United
States for their release. In the United States, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five organizes events and
conducts media campaigns; the group’s website is available at http://www.freethefive.org/.
188
U.S. Department of State, Daily Press Briefing, May 11, 2012, available at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2012/
05/189753.htm.
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Legislative Initiatives in the 113th Congress
For information on legislative initiatives on Cuba in the 112th Congress, see CRS Report R41617,
Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress.
Enacted Measures
P.L. 113-6 (H.R. 933). Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013. Provides
continued funding for Cuba democracy and human rights projects and Cuba broadcasting (Radio
and TV Martí) for FY2013. Signed into law March 26, 2013.
P.L. 113-76 (H.R. 3547). Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014. (Joint explanatory statement
available from the House Committee on Rules, http://rules.house.gov/bill/113/hr-3547-sa). Signed
into law January 17, 2014. Provides funding for Cuba democracy and human rights projects and
Cuba broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí) for FY2014. With regard to democracy and human
rights funding, Division K, Title VII, Section 7045(b) of the law provides up to $17.5 million in
Economic Support Funds (ESF) for programs and activities in Cuba and stipulates that no ESF
appropriated under the Act may be obligated by USAID for any new programs or activities in
Cuba. The joint explanatory statement to the bill states that of the $17.5 million, not less than
$7.5 million shall be provided directly to the National Endowment for Democracy, and not more
than $10 million shall be administered by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor and Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. With regard to Cuba broadcasting,
the joint explanatory statement provides (pursuant to Section 7019 of the law) $27.043 million.
Also see H.R. 2786, S. 1371, H.R. 2855, and S. 1372 below.
Additional Measures
H.R. 214 (Serrano). Cuba Reconciliation Act. Would lift the trade embargo on Cuba. Introduced
January 4, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees
on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, the Judiciary, Oversight and
Government Reform, and Agriculture.
H.R. 215 (Serrano). Baseball Diplomacy Act. Would waive certain prohibitions with respect to
nationals of Cuba coming to the United States to play organized professional baseball. Introduced
January 4, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committee
on the Judiciary.
H.R. 778 (Issa)/S. 647 (Nelson). No Stolen Trademarks Honored in America Act. Identical bills
would modify a 1998 prohibition (Section 211 of Division A, Title II, P.L. 105-277) by U.S.
courts of certain rights relating to certain marks, trade names, or commercial names. The 1998
prohibition or sanction prevents trademark registrations and renewals from Cuban or foreign
nations that were used in connection with a business or assets in Cuba that were confiscated,
without the consent of the original owner. The bill would apply a fix so that the sanction would
apply to all nationals and would bring the sanction into compliance with a 2002 World Trade
Organization dispute settlement ruling. H.R. 778 introduced February 15, 2013; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary. S. 647 introduced March 21, 2013; referred to the Committee on the
Judiciary.
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H.R. 871 (Rangel). Export Freedom to Cuba Act of 2013. Would allow travel between the United
States and Cuba. Introduced February 27, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
H.R. 872 (Rangel). Free Trade with Cuba Act. Would lift the trade embargo on Cuba. Introduced
February 27, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the
Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, the Judiciary, Financial Services,
Oversight and Government Reform, and Agriculture.
H.R. 873 (Rangel). Promoting American Agriculture and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2013.
Would facilitate the export of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba, remove impediments to the
export of medical devices and medicines to Cuba, allow travel to Cuba by U.S. legal residents,
and establish an agricultural export promotion program with respect to Cuba. Introduced
February 27, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the
Committees on Ways and Means, the Judiciary, Agriculture, and Financial Services.
H.R. 1917 (Rush). United States-Cuba Normalization Act of 2013. The bill would lift the U.S.
trade embargo on Cuba; repeal a 1998 trademark sanction (Section 211 of Division A, Title II,
P.L. 105-277); prohibit restrictions on travel to Cuba; call on the President to conduct negotiations
with Cuba to settle property claims of U.S. nationals for confiscated property and secure the
protection of internationally recognized human rights; extend nondiscriminatory trade treatment
to the products of Cuba; prohibit any limitations on annual remittances to Cuba; remove Cuba
from the state sponsors of terrorism list; and call for the immediate and unconditional release of
Alan Gross and, until then, urge Cuba to allow Mr. Gross to choose a doctor to provide him with
an independent medical assessment. The amendments made by this Act would take effect 60 days
after its enactment or 60 days after the President certifies to Congress that Alan Gross has been
released by Cuba, whichever occurs later. Introduced May 9, 2013; referred to the Committee on
Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce,
the Judiciary, Financial Services, Oversight and Government Reform, and Agriculture.
H.R. 2786 (Crenshaw)/ S. 1371 (Udall, NM). FY2014 Financial Services and General
Government Appropriations Act. Both bills had contrasting provisions regarding U.S. travel to
Cuba, but none of these provisions were included in the FY2014 omnibus appropriations
measure, P.L. 113-76, noted above.
H.R. 2786 introduced and reported by the House Appropriations Committee (H.Rept. 113-172)
July 23, 2013. Section 124 would have prohibited FY2014 funding used “to approve, license,
facilitate, authorize, or otherwise allow” travel-related or other transactions related to
nonacademic educational exchanges (i.e. people-to-people travel) to Cuba set forth in 31 C.F.R.
515.565(b)(2) of the CACR. Section 125 of the House bill would have required a Treasury
Department report within 90 days of the bill’s enactment with information for each fiscal year
since FY2007 on the number of travelers visiting close relatives in Cuba; the average duration of
these trips; the average amount of U.S. dollars spent per family traveler (including amount of
remittances carried to Cuba); the number of return trips per year; and the total sum of U.S. dollars
spent collectively by family travelers for each fiscal year.
S. 1371 introduced and reported by the Senate Appropriations Committee (S.Rept. 113-80) July
25, 2013. Section 628 would have provided for a new general license for travel-related
transactions for full-time professional research; attendance at professional meetings if the
sponsoring organization was a U.S. organization; and the organization and management of
professional meetings and conferences in Cuba if the sponsoring organization was a U.S.
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professional organization—if the travel was related to disaster prevention, emergency
preparedness, and natural resource protection, including for fisheries, coral reefs, and migratory
species.
H.R. 2855 (Granger)/S. 1372 (Leahy). FY2014 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and
Related Programs Appropriations Act. H.R. 2855 introduced and reported (H.Rept. 113-185) July
30, 2013. S. 1372 introduced and reported (S.Rept. 113-81) July 25, 2013. The House version
would have provided that $20 million in ESF assistance ($5 million more than the
Administration’s request) be transferred to the National Endowment for Democracy “to promote
democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba,” while the Senate version would have provided
that ESF assistance appropriated for Cuba only be made available “for humanitarian assistance
and to support the development of private business.” The House version would also have
provided $28.266 million for Cuba broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), while S. 1372 would have
provided $23.804 million, the same amount as the Administration’s request. For final action, see
the FY2014 omnibus appropriations measure, P.L. 113-76, described above.
H.R. 3585 (Smith, NJ). Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act. Would
require the President, within 270 days after enactment of the Act and each year after that, to
submit a report to the appropriated congressional committees on fugitives currently residing in
other countries whose extradition is sought by the United States. Introduced November 21, 2013;
referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
H.R. 4194 (Issa)/ S. 2109 (Warner)/. Government Reports Elimination Act of 2014. Section
1501 of the House bill and Section 2413 of the Senate bill would repeal a reporting requirement
regarding commerce with, and assistance to, Cuba from other foreign countries set forth in
Section 108 of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6038). H.R.
4194 introduced March 11, 2014; reported by the House Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform (H.Rept. 113-419) and passed House by voice vote April 28, 2014. S. 2109
introduced March 11, 2014; referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental
Affairs.
H.R. 5013 (Granger)/ S. 2499 (Leahy). FY2015 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and
Related Programs Appropriations Act. H.R. 5013 introduced and reported (H.Rept. 113-499) by
the House Committee on Appropriations June 27, 2014. S. 2499 introduced and reported (S.Rept.
113-195) June 19, 2014. As reported, H.R. 5013 would make available $20 million in Economic
Support Funds (ESF) “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba” while S. 2499,
as reported, would provide up to $10 million in for programs in Cuba an additional $5 million for
USAID programs to provide technical and other assistance to support the development of private
businesses in Cuba; the Administration had requested $20 million for Cuba democracy programs.
With regard to Cuba broadcasting, H.R. 5013 would provide not less than $28.266 million for the
Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) while S. 2499 would provide $23.130 million, the same
amount requested by the Administration.
H.R. 5016 (Crenshaw). FY2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations
Act. Introduced and reported by the House Committee on Appropriations (H.Rept. 113-508) July
2, 2014. House passed (228-195) July 16, 2014. As approved, Section 126 of the bill would
prevent any funds in the Act from being used to approve, license, facilitate, authorize or otherwise
allow people-to-people travel set forth in 31 C.F.R. 515.565(b)(2) of the CACR; Section 127
would require a joint report from the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Homeland
Security within 90 days of the bill’s enactment with information for each fiscal year since
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FY2007 on the number of travelers visiting close relatives in Cuba; the average duration of these
trips; the average amount of U.S. dollars spent per family traveler (including amount of
remittances carried to Cuba); the number of return trips per year; and the total sum of U.S. dollars
spent collectively by family travelers for each fiscal year.
H.Res. 121 (Hastings, FL). Would honor Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez “for her ongoing efforts
to challenge political, economic, and social oppression by the Castro regime.” Introduced March
15, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and in addition to the Committee on the
Judiciary.
H.Res. 262 (King, NY). Would call for the immediate extradition or rendering to the United
States of convicted felon William Morales and all other fugitives from justice who are receiving
safe harbor in Cuba in order to escape prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses
committed in the United States. Introduced June 14, 2013; referred to the Committee on Foreign
Affairs.
S. 1681(Feinstein). Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. As reported, Section 325
of the bill would have repealed a reporting requirement on commerce with, and assistance to,
Cuba from other foreign countries set forth in Section 108 of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic
Solidarity Act of 1996 (22 U.S.C. 6038). Introduced November 12, 2013; reported by Select
Committee on Intelligence November 13, 2013 (S.Rept. 113-120). Senate passed, amended, by
voice vote on June 11, 2014, without the provision repealing the reporting requirement on Cuba.
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Appendix A. Selected Executive Branch Reports
and Web Pages
U.S. Relations with Cuba, Fact Sheet, State Department
Date: August 30, 2013
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2886.htm
Congressional Budget Justification, Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related
Programs, FY2015, State Department
Date: March 4, 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/222898.pdf
Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2015, Annex 3: Regional
Perspectives (pp.646-647), State Department
Date: April 18, 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/224070.pdf
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2013, Cuba, State Department
Date: February 27, 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/220646.pdf
Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 (State Sponsors of Terrorism chapter), State Department
Date: April 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2013/224826.htm
Cuba Country Page, State Department
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/cu/
Cuba Country Page, U.S. Agency for International Development
Full Text: http://www.usaid.gov/where-we-work/latin-american-and-caribbean/cuba
Cuba Sanctions, Treasury Department
Full Text: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/pages/cuba.aspx
Cuba: What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions Against Cuba, Treasury Department,
Office of Foreign Assets Control
Date: January 24, 2012
Full Text: http://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/cuba.pdf
Fiscal Year 2015 Congressional Budget Request, Broadcasting Board of Governors (Office of
Cuba Broadcasting, pp. 51-54)
Date: March 25, 2014
Full Text: http://www.bbg.gov/wp-content/media/2014/03/FY-2015-BBG-Congressional-BudgetRequest-FINAL-21-March-2014.pdf
International Religious Freedom Report for 2012, Cuba, State Department
Date: May 20, 2013
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/208682.pdf
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International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2014, Vol. I, Cuba, State Department
Date: March 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2014/vol1/222869.htm
Trafficking in Persons Report 2014 (Cuba, pp. 144-145 of pdf), State Department
Date: June 20, 2014
Full Text: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2014/226708.htm
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Appendix B. Earlier Developments in 2014 and 2013
See “Recent Developments” above for entries in the last few months.
On April 30, 2014, the State Department released Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, which
noted that Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty
(ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but that there was no
indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist
groups. The report also noted that the Cuban government continued to harbor fugitives from U.S.
justice.
On April 3, 2014, an Associated Press investigative report alleged that the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID) had established a “Cuban Twitter” known as ZunZuneo
from 2010 to 2012 that was designed as a “covert” program “to undermine” Cuba’s communist
government. USAID strongly contested the facts presented in the report and asserted that it was
not a covert program.
On March 29, 2014, Cuba approved a new foreign investment law (to go into effect in 90 days)
with the goal of attracting needed foreign capital to the country. While the law cuts taxes for
foreign investors significantly, it remains to be seen to what extent the new law will actually
attract investment.
During the second week of March 2014, the United States along with the Bahamas, Cuba, and
Jamaica released a document known as the Wider Caribbean Region Multilateral Technical
Operating Procedures for Offshore Oil Pollution Response (MTOP) that consists of information
of what would need to be done and coordinated in the case of an oil spill.
On March 6, 2014, the U.N. Security Council issued the Panel of Experts for North Korea report,
which concluded that July 2013 attempted shipment of weapons to North Korea from Cuba that
was intercepted by Panama were violations of U.N. sanctions banning weapons transfers to North
Korea. The report maintained that there was a “clear and conscious intention to circumvent the
[U.N. Security Council] resolutions.”
On February 28, 2014, the State Department released its 2014 International Narcotics Control
Strategy Report, which noted that law enforcement communication with Cuba “gradually
increased in frequency and transparency over the course of 2013, especially concerning efforts to
target drug trafficking at sea.” As in past years, the report noted that a bilateral counternarcotics
accord could advance the efforts undertaken by both countries.
On February 27, 2014, Fernando González—one of the “Cuban five” intelligence agents
convicted in 2001 on espionage charges by a U.S. Federal Court—was released from prison after
serving his sentence and swiftly returned to Cuba. Three of the “Cuban five” remain in the United
States serving their sentences.
On January 28-29, 2014, Cuba hosted the second annual summit of the Community of Latin
American and Caribbean Nations (CELAC). The U.N. Secretary General attended and reportedly
raised human rights issues with Cuban officials. In a joint declaration, Latin American nations
committed to nonintervention and pledged to respect “the inalienable right of every state to
choose its political, economic, social, and cultural system.”
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On January 17, 2014, President Obama signed into law the FY2014 omnibus appropriation
measure, H.R. 3547 (P.L. 113-76), which stated that up to $17.5 million should be provided for
democracy and human rights programs and activities in Cuba and $27.043 million for Cuba
broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). The measure did not include any provisions tightening or
easing U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba that had been in the House and Senate versions of the
FY2014 Financial Services appropriations bill, H.R. 2786 and S. 1371, respectively.
On January 9, 2014, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana for semi-annual migration talks. The
U.S. delegation again raised the issue of Cuba’s continued imprisonment of Alan Gross.
On December 10, 2013, a handshake between President Obama and President Raúl Castro at the
memorial service for Nelson Mandela in South Africa generated considerable international press
attention.
On December 10, 2013, Cuba cracked down on protests and gatherings planned to commemorate
International Human Rights Day and detained more than 150 dissidents.
On December 9, 2013, Cuba announced that it had temporarily reopened its consular services in
the United States after the New York-based M&T Bank postponed closing the accounts of Cuba’s
diplomatic missions in Washington, DC and New York until March 1, 2014. Cuba had suspended
its U.S. consular services on November 26 because M&T Bank had decided to stop offering
banking services to Cuba’s diplomatic missions in the United States. Cuba is continuing to search
for a replacement for M&T Bank.
On November 18, 2013, in remarks at the Organization of American States, Secretary of State
John Kerry maintained that the United States and Cuba “are finding some cooperation on
common interests at this point in time” and noted that the Administration welcomes “some of the
changes that are taking place in Cuba.” However, the Secretary also cautioned that changes in
Cuba “should absolutely not blind us to the authoritarian reality of life for ordinary Cubans.”
On November 8, 2013 in Miami, Florida, President Obama stated, in commenting about U.S.
policy toward Cuba, that “we have to be creative ... we have to be thoughtful ... and we have to
continue to update our policies.”
On October 22, 2013, Cuba announced that it would move toward ending its dual-currency
system and move toward monetary unification, although it did not provide details or a timetable
for the process.
On September 26, 2013, the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western
Hemisphere held a hearing on Panama’s July 2013 interdiction of a North Korean ship, the Chong
Chon Gang, that had made stops in Cuba and was found to have weapons hidden aboard on its
way back to North Korea.
On September 23, 2013, prominent dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe died in Spain after
battling chronic liver disease and cancer.
On September 20, 2013, the United States and Cuba reached a preliminary agreement on air and
maritime search and rescue.
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On September 16-17, 2013, the United States and Cuba held talks in Havana on restoring direct
mail service that had been curtailed in the early 1960s. Talks also were held in Washington D.C.
on June 18-19, 2013.
On September 15, 2013, Cuba’s Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter
maintaining that Cuba’s political order needed to be updated and that there should be the right of
diversity with respect to thought.
On August 2, 2013, Cuban human rights activist Iván Fernández Depestre, who had been arrested
on July 30 after participating in a peaceful protest, was convicted of “dangerousness” in a
summary trial and sentenced to three years in prison. Amnesty International considers him a
prisoner of conscience along with five other imprisoned Cubans.
On August 1, 2013, the State Department made non-immigrant visas issued to Cubans for family
visits, tourism, medical treatment, or other personal travel valid for five years with multiple
entries (instead of single entry for six months).
On July 17, 2013, the United States and Cuba held migration talks in Washington D.C. with both
sides issuing positive statements after the meeting; the last round of migration talks had been in
January 2011.
On June 1, 2013, an oil rig that had been drilling an exploratory well in a north coastal block east
of Havana for the Russian energy company Zarubezhneft was redeployed to Asia. Zarubezhneft
said that it experience technical problems with the rig and difficult geology in the area. The action
effectively ended offshore drilling in Cuba for now, although Zarubezhneft contends that it will
return next year to drill in Cuba.
On May 30, 2013, the State Department issued its Country Reports on Terrorism 2012 report,
which provides information related to Cuba being on the department’s state sponsors of terrorism
list. In the report, the State Department stated that there was no indication that the Cuban
government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups, but it noted that Cuba
continues to provide safe haven to some members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
terrorist group as well as U.S. fugitives from justice.
On May 16, 2013, imprisoned U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor Alan
Gross reached an undisclosed settlement against his employer, Development Alternatives Inc.
Gross and his wife had filed suit in November 2012 in U.S. District Court for failing to disclose
the risk that he faced while participating in a project in Cuba. Subsequently, on May 28, 2013, a
U.S. federal judge dismissed Gross’s lawsuit against the U.S. government.
On May 3, 2013, a U.S. federal judge ruled that René González, one of the so-called “Cuban
five” spies convicted in the United States in 2001, could stay in Cuba if he renounced his U.S.
citizenship, which he subsequently did. González, who had been released from prison in October
2011 but still faced three more years of probation in Florida, had been permitted to visit Cuba for
two weeks in the aftermath of his father’s death in April 2013.
On April 25, 2013, the Department of Justice unsealed a 2004 indictment charging a former U.S.
government official, Marta Rita Velazquez, with espionage stemming from her role in introducing
Ana Montes (former U.S. government official who pled guilty in 2002 of spying for Cuba) to the
Cuban intelligence service.
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On April 19, 2013, the State Department issued its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
for 2012, which stated that Cuba’s “principal human rights abuses were: abridgement of the rights
of citizens to change the government; government threats, intimidation, mobs, harassment, and
detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly; and a record number of politically
motivated and at times violent short-term detentions.”
On April 10, 2013, the State Department released its FY2014 budget request for international
programs, which included $15 million in Cuba democracy and human rights projects, $5 million
less than appropriated in FY2012. On the same day, the Broadcasting Board of Governors
released the details of its FY2014 budget request, including $23.804 million for Cuba
broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), about $4.5 million less than that provided in FY2013,
although roughly similar to the FY2013 budget request.
On March 28, 2013, the U.S. Department of State called for an “investigation with independent
international observers into the circumstances leading to the death of [Cuban human rights
activists] Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero” in July 2012.
On March 14, 2013, internationally known Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez (on a multi-nation trip
after receiving a new passport under Cuba’s new travel policy) arrived in the United States, with
stops in New York City and Washington, DC (including Capitol Hill), through March 21. She
then traveled to Europe, but returned to the United States March 28, arriving in Miami.
On March 14, 2013, Amnesty International issued an urgent action appeal for prisoner of
conscience Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias who began a hunger strike in early March. Calixto was
imprisoned in September 2012 for reporting on a cholera outbreak.
On March 12, 2013, the State Department released its 2013 International Narcotics Control
Strategy Report, which stated that Cuba maintained a significant level of anti-drug cooperation
with the United States in 2012. The report also indicated that the U.S. government was still
reviewing a draft bilateral counternarcotics cooperation accord that Cuba presented in 2011, and
that such an accord, if structured appropriately, could advance counternarcotics efforts taken by
both countries.
On March 6, 2013, the Washington Post published an interview with Spanish politician Angel
Carromero, who was convicted by a Cuban court in October 2012 for vehicular manslaughter in
the death of two human rights activists, including internationally known dissident Oswaldo Payá.
Carromero asserted in the interview that the car he was driving was struck from behind and that
he had been heavily drugged when he admitted to driving recklessly. Many observers have called
for an independent investigation into the accident. In July 2012, the U.S. Senate approved S.Res.
525 (Nelson) calling for an impartial third-party investigation of the crash.
On March 5, 2013, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez died after battling several recurrences of
cancer since mid-2011. Under President Chávez, Venezuela became a strong political and
financial supporter of Cuba over the past decade, providing the island with some 100,000 barrels
of oil per day.
On February 24, 2013, Cuba’s National Assembly, as expected, appointed Raúl Castro to a second
five-year term as President. Most significantly, the Assembly also appointed 52-year old Miguel
Díaz-Canel as First Vice President, making him Castro’s constitutional successor. Díaz-Canel
replaced outgoing 82-year old First Vice President José Ramón Machado Ventura.
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On January 14, 2013, Cuba’s new travel policy went into effect whereby Cubans wanting to
travel abroad no longer need an exit permit and letter of invitation. Under the new policy, travel
requires only an updated passport and a visa issued by the country of destination, if required.
Thousands of Cubans lined up at government migration offices and travel agencies on the first
day.
Author Contact Information
Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs
[email protected], 7-7689
Acknowledgments
Susan G. Chesser, Information Research Specialist, produced the statistical figures presented in this report.
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