Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cuban Communists and the California Farm Bureau


Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the liberalization of trade with Communist Dictator Castro’s government. You can see video of the hearing here.

You can read my full remarks to the committee below:

Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade

"I do not support liberalizing trade with Cuba, a nation governed by a brutal Communist Dictatorship. To justify this initiative, some may draw parallels with China or other foreign powers that have also been hostile to American freedom. But make no mistake, Cuba is not China and these comparisons are not valid. Here are a few reasons why:

• Cuba, not China, is stoking anti-American sentiment throughout the Western Hemisphere and is openly hostile to our nation.

• Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism – along with Iran, Syria, and Sudan.

• Cuba is one of a handful of totalitarian states remaining in the world, alongside Burma and North Korea.

• Trade with Cuba means trade with one company – Alimport. Any talk of open trade with Cuba is a distortion. What we are talking about is open trade with Castro’s import/export regime.

Let me be clear, I am not defending Chinese currency manipulation. And I believe the U.S. has many challenges ahead with respect to our relationship with China. But it is inappropriate and dangerous to use the China model of engagement for the brutal totalitarian regime in Cuba.

And while I understand that American foreign policy has taken on a bold new look and feel under the Obama Administration, I am compelled to ask a basic question: Is this Congress seriously proposing to advance trade with terrorist states before completing work on agreements with Democratic allies and strategic partners?

Trade with Cuba is not a question of economics, it is a matter of geopolitics and American national security.

I recognize that liberalization might make a few Americans a lot of money. And I don’t blame certain elements of our economy, including the California Farm Bureau, for entertaining profits over the larger ideals of freedom and national security.

To my knowledge, no members of the California Farm Bureau have been murdered for their political views. Here is a picture depicting Cubans murdered by the Castro regime.

And it might come as a surprise to supporters of trade with Cuba that killing a cow in that country, without government permission, results in longer prison sentences than killing a human being.

The California Farm Bureau and other exporters do not represent this nation’s national interests. The American people are tired of sectional interests governing our country. As leaders, we are charged with the responsibility of putting aside these narrow interests in favor of the national interest.

As a Representative of California’s number one agriculture district, I can assure you I have done so with respect to Cuba.

Yet, I fear many of my colleagues have lost sight of this responsibility.

While we discuss trade with Cuba, this committee has sat idle while Congressional leaders have blocked consideration of vital agreements with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea.

Our allies in Central and South America are under constant assault by hostile powers – including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Without our support, we leave these friendly Democracies at the mercy of anti America sentiment and militant Marxist ideology.

So I ask, when will the House consider the Columbian and Panamanian agreements?

And while we are asking questions, I would also like to know why so many anti-trade Democrats - those responsible for holding up consideration of important free trade agreements with our Democratic allies - are so intent on liberalizing trade with the Communist Dictatorship in Cuba?

I understand that some in this House may share the Marxist views of Castro and Chavez, but we must all recognize that American freedom is incompatible with these regimes.

And quite frankly, with so many opportunities to enhance trade relationships with democracies, it is utterly incomprehensible that time and tax dollars are being wasted on Cuba. Yet here we sit.

I urge my Democratic colleagues to take a stand one way or the other. Either end the waiting game currently confronting our allies – Columbia, South Korea, and Panama, and give them a vote on their trade agreements. Or kill them now and get on with your agenda.

Perhaps some of my colleagues would be more comfortable negotiating free trade agreements with Iran, North Korea and Venezuela."