Mr. Chairman, members of the Subcommittee: Thank you for inviting me to address the issue of U.S. sanctions that limit Cuban American visits and aid to their family members in Cuba. I oppose all restrictions on American travel to Cuba, and I strongly oppose the extra restrictions placed in 2004 on Cuban Americans who want to visit their loved ones or send them cash remittances or gift parcels. The Administration’s family sanctions are particularly mistaken today, because they unreasonably limit a source of direct, effective aid for millions of Cubans who have suffered the damages of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. These sanctions are so severe that, to take one example, they make it illegal for a Miami man to send a parcel containing new clothes and vegetable seeds to a brother in Cuba who saw his home, garden, and possessions wiped out. Sanctions such as these, targeted at needy individuals, are at odds with our humanitarian interests and family values, and they have no strategic benefit. Congress would do well to suspend or repeal these sanctions so that Cuban Americans can join American immigrants from elsewhere in the Caribbean who today are extending a hand of charity to their families on other islands who weathered the same storms, and suffered the same damage, as our neighbors in Cuba.
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