I rise to speak about the Omnibus bill before the Senate and specifically about provisions on Cuba that have not passed the Senate and have not been subjected to debate by this body. [Corrupted lobbying alert: why are foreign relations issues related to Cuba hidden in an appropiations bills in the US?] These provisions would undo current law, where the Castro regime would have to pay in advance of shipment for goods being sold to them – despite their terrible credit history.
Yes, Cuba's credit history is horrible. The Paris Club of creditor nations recently announced that Cuba has failed to pay almost $30 billion in debt (not related to official development assistance). Among poor nations, that's the worst credit record in the world. So I ask: if the Cuban government has put off paying those who it already owes $30 billion, why does anyone think it would meet new financial obligations to American farmers?
From there, Sen. Menéndez exposed a whole list of blackmailed European governments that are beding to (c)astro's extorsion in order to savage some of the money owed to their companies investing in Cuba.
Considering the serious economic crisis we're facing right now, we need to focus on solutions for hard-working Americans, not subsidies for a brutal dictatorship. [Bravo, Bob, for common sense logic!] We should evaluate how to encourage the regime to allow a legitimate opening – not in terms of cell phones and hotel rooms that Cubans can't afford, but in terms of the right to organize, the right to think and speak what they believe.
However, what we are doing with this Omnibus bill, M. President, is far from evaluation, and the process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that I have no intention – no intention - of continuing to vote for omnibus appropriations bills if they are going to jam foreign policy changes down throats of members, in what some consider "must pass" bills. I am putting my colleagues on notice, if you do that – that's fine – but don't expect me to cast critical votes to pass your bill. [Pantalones, anyone?]
And then, takes on the horrible human rights records the communist dictatorship has, and call the due names on those who want to make money and coddle with the regimen and could care less about the rights of ordinary Cubans:
I don't know if there is a Spanish-version of this speech yet; but I am planning to make my own free translation during the day, and I will email it to as many people I can. It's a lifetime sense lesson how to get yourself a good set of pantalones to call things the way they are.
The real reason why so many, whose work is often subsidized by business interests, advocate Cuba policy changes is about money and commerce, not about freedom and democracy. It makes me wonder why those who spend hours and hours in Havana, listening to Fidel Castro's soliloquies, cannot find minutes for human rights and democracy activists. It makes me wonder why those who go and enjoy the sun of Cuba, will not shine the light of freedom on its jails full of political prisoners. They advocate for labor rights in the U.S. but are willing to accept forced labor in Cuba. They talk about democracy in Burma, but are willing to sip rum with Cuba's dictators.