St. Paul, MN- Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) and recently re-elected Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN6) joined other members of Congress and Cuban business owners in a letter urging President-elect Donald Trump to continue improving relations with Cuba on Wednesday.
“Emmer and Klobuchar said they would urge Trump to stay the course — even eventually supporting a full lift of the trade embargo.
“The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result,” said Emmer, who was the only Republican at the news conference and is leading his caucus on the bill to repeal the trade embargo. “We have a change in the administration. There have been strong words spoken.”
“Emmer is referring to a tweet Trump tapped out a couple of weeks ago after the recent death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. “If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal” Trump said.”
If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 28, 2016
The “deal” Trump referred to is the lifting of the trade and tourism embargo from Cuba by the United States. The agreement has been cheered by many, including Klobuchar and Emmer, who joined President Obama on his historic trip to Cuba in March.
In June of 2015, Klobuchar wrote a column explaining her support of lifting the embargo from Cuba. In the column she said, “Through the humanitarian exception to the embargo, Minnesota exported about $20 million in agricultural products to Cuba in 2013. With the president’s recent action alone, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture estimates that exports could increase by another $20 million.”
Emmer and Klobuchar tout the gains the Cuban people have made due to the government “allowing” entrepreneurs to open privately held businesses. From the Miami Herald:
“Cubans will be able to establish “small businesses carried on basically by the worker and his family,” the documents added, as well as “private companies of medium, small and micro sizes, according to the volume of the activity and the number of workers, (to be) legally recognized as companies.”
What Emmer and Klobuchar don’t address is the fact that those businesses are still highly regulated by the communist government, and the issues with Cuba’s “dual-currency system” cause many to remain in poverty.
Emmer and Klobuchar applaud the opening of Cuba’s workforce to foreign companies, but also don’t address the fact that the Cuban worker hired by the foreign company would be paid the same salary as someone working for a Cuban company. As Breitbart explained in 2014:
“…new measures that would allow Cubans who work for foreign companies to keep only 8% of their salaries.
There are also those who criticize the deal, claiming that the US government did not hold Cuban President Raul Castro and the ruling Communist party accountable for the many human rights violations committed yearly in the country. The violations were highlighted with mass arrests of protesters the day Obama and his contingent landed in Cuba for the visit. As Alpha News reported, the Cuban government arrested more than 250 dissidents in the days before and on the day Obama, Klobuchar and Emmer arrived in Cuba.
During the a press conference held by Obama and Castro during the visit, Castro castigated Obama and the US for failed human rights policies. Obama’s responded by saying hopefully we can learn about improving human rights from each other.
Alpha News contacted Congressman Tom Emmer for comment on the issue but did not receive a response.