Thursday, September 11, 2008

Statements from Rep. Berman, Serrano., Flake and others

Howard Berman, Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee, Asks Bush to Lift Some Restrictions on Cuba Visits, Gifts, and Remittances to Allow for Hurricane Assistance

Van Nuys, CA – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today asked President Bush to suspend for 90 days U.S. legal restrictions on visits, remittances and gifts to people in Cuba so that Cuban Americans might assist family members whose lives have been upended by Hurricane Gustav.

“We have the opportunity now to harness the deep desire and capacity of Cuban American families to assist their loved ones in this time of great need by temporarily suspending regulatory restrictions on Cuban American visits, remittances, and gift parcels,” Berman said in a letter to Bush. “There is no more effective way to urgently get relief to Cubans in need than to lift U.S. government restrictions to allow direct family assistance. …. Whether or not one agrees with current US policy toward Cuba, the entire spectrum of opinion on the issue shares the goal of providing relief for the citizens and people of Cuba in a time of great hardship.”

Gustav hit Cuba at Category Four strength, heavily damaging crops, housing and infrastructure. Authorities there report that about 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed; officials in the Cuban Catholic Church and leading dissidents have launched international appeals for assistance.

“I am aware,” wrote Berman, “of the difficulties in the past of getting Cuban authorities to accept U.S. government offers of help. While I believe such an offer should still be made in this case, provided Cuban authorities permit conditions for its effective delivery, we should not make this the U.S.’s only attempt to assist the Cuban people devastated by Gustav.”


Letter to President Bush from Representatives Flake, Delahunt, Emerson, McGovern, Moran, Delauro, Lahood and Meeks



Washington, DC РSeptember 8, 2008 РCongressman Jos̩ E. Serrano sent the following letter to President George W. Bush today, following the devastation of Cuba by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The text of the letter follows:


Dear Mr. President:

I am writing to add my voice to that of the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Howard Berman, calling for a suspension of regulatory restrictions for travel and remittances to Cuba by Cuban-Americans. Lifting these restrictions will help to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Cuba caused by the recent hurricanes.

First, Hurricane Gustav damaged homes, infrastructure and crops across the island. Now, Hurricane Ike has caused the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in Cuba and will add to the damage to buildings and agriculture. Because of this repeated battering, I agree with Chairman Berman that we should examine all possible avenues for providing assistance to Cuba.

As a government we should reach out and offer assistance to the Cuban people, but one of our best resources for providing timely and accurate assistance is the many Cuban-Americans with families back in Cuba. They personally understand the situation in Cuba and will know what their families need. In order to tap this great resource, I believe that Chairman Berman’s proposal of a 90 day suspension of regulatory restrictions on visits, remittances and gifts is reasonable and would allow Cuban Americans to help their relatives recover from the storms.

This is not a time to focus on policy differences over the merits of the Cuban government, nor on the long term differences between our two governments. It is a time to acknowledge the human suffering and hardship that is ongoing in Cuba and to take steps to alleviate it.

This is an opportunity for our nation to show its compassion for those who are suffering. I encourage you to take the necessary measures to allow direct assistance to the Cuban people from their family members in the United States.

Contact your own Representative and Senators by clicking here.

No comments: