Commentary: U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a leading supporter of re-opening relations with Cuba, blasted President Trump's misguided decision to reverse key pieces of President Obama's Cuba-engagement policy. He issued the following statement:
"Today, President Trump threw aside three years of historic progress to return to the failed Cold War mentality that allowed Cuba's Communist regime to rule with an iron grip. Yes, we reject the human rights abuses and the military monopoly that have exploited the Cuban people, but it is the definition of insanity to think that doing the same things over and over will get a different result. The best diplomats of democratic values are Americans themselves — and by further opening Cuba to American tourism, trade and commerce, we have begun to bring freedom and openness to Cuba. Since re-opening relations with Cuba in 2014, we have seen historic growth in the Cuban private sector, led by entrepreneurs whose expanding efforts show that the spirit of free enterprise is already taking hold in the country. The Cuban people themselves -- including those who host tourists from the United States in cuentapropistas or Airbnbs -- have gained entrepreneurial experience and begun to pull themselves out of poverty. I predict that no matter what President Trump does, the Cuban people will continue to push for freedom and openness, and I will support their efforts as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee by pushing to lift the trade embargo and ease restrictions on trade, tourism and communication that hinder the freedom of Americans and Cubans to travel and do business."
Udall introduced the Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act — or Cuba DATA Act — in 2015 to allow American companies to help Cuba build the 21st-century telecommunications infrastructure necessary in today's global economy and empower Cubans to realize their full potential. He also is a cosponsor of the Agricultural Export Expansion Act to help support and improve the export of American agricultural commodities to Cuba, and he is a longtime supporter of lifting the trade and travel embargoes.