CUBA: ISSUES AND LEGISLATION IN THE 106TH CONGRESS
CRS Report for Congress
Cuba: Issues and Legislation
In the 106th Congress
Updated January 11, 2001
Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Analyst in Latin American Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress
Cuba: Issues and Legislation in the 106th Congress
Cuba remains a hard-line Communist state, with a poor record on human rights.
Fidel Castro has ruled since he led the Cuban Revolution, ousting the corrupt
government of Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959. With the cutoff of assistance
from the former Soviet Union, Cuba experienced severe economic deterioration from
1989-1993, although there has been some improvement since 1994 as Cuba has
implemented limited reforms.
Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating
the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions. The Clinton
Administration essentially continued this policy of isolating Cuba. The principal tool
of policy remains comprehensive sanctions, which were made stronger with the Cuban
Democracy Act (CDA) in 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act
in 1996, often referred to as the Helms/Burton legislation. Another component of
U.S. policy consists of support measures for the Cuban people. This includes private
humanitarian donations and U.S.-sponsored radio and television broadcasting to
Cuba. Under this rubric of support for the Cuban people, President Clinton announced
several policy actions in March 1998. These included the resumption of direct charter
flights and cash remittances to Cuba, and the streamlining of licensing procedures for
the sale of medicines. In January 1999, the President announced additional measures,
including a broadening of permissible cash remittances, increasing direct charter
flights, expanding people-to-people contact, and authorizing the sale of food and
agricultural inputs to independent entities in Cuba.
Although U.S. policymakers agree on the overall objective of U.S. policy toward
Cuba — to help bring democracy and respect for human rights to the island — there
have been several schools of thought about how to achieve that objective. Some
advocate a policy of keeping maximum pressure on the Cuban government until
reforms are enacted, while continuing current U.S. efforts to support the Cuban
people. Others argue for an approach, sometimes referred to as constructive
engagement, that would lift some U.S. sanctions that they believe are hurting the
Cuban people, and move toward engaging Cuba in dialogue. Still others call for a
swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations by lifting the U.S. embargo.
Numerous measures were introduced in the 106th Congress that reflected the
range of views on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Legislative initiatives proposed both
easing and increasing sanctions against Cuba. In the end, legislation passed reflected
both approaches: it allowed the export of food and medicine to Cuba, but prohibited
any U.S. financing, both public and private, of such exports. Travel to Cuba for
tourism was also prohibited. Another law facilitated enforcement of anti-terrorism
judgments in U.S. courts to allow for the payment of a $187.6 million 1997 judgment
against Cuba to be paid from Cuba’s frozen assets in the United States to the families
of three U.S. citizens killed when Cuba shot down two U.S. planes in 1996. President
Clinton waived the provision, however, upon signing the rest of the bill into law.
End-of-Session Legislative Developments.............................1
U.S. Policy Toward Cuba.........................................5
Overview .................................................. 5
Issues in U.S.-Cuban Relations.....................................8
Compensation for February 1996 Shootdown......................8
Implementation of Title III and IV..........................10
Foreign Reaction and the EU’s WTO Challenge................11
Section 211 Trademark Provision..............................12
Food and Medical Exports....................................13
Legislative Initiatives in the 106th Congress...................14
Drug Trafficking Cooperation.................................17
Russian Intelligence Facility in Cuba............................17
Bipartisan Commission Proposal...............................18
Radio and TV Marti.........................................19
Migration ................................................. 20
Elian Gonzalez Case.....................................21
Legislative Initiatives and Actions in the 106th Congress..................23
Initiatives Regarding Compensation for the February 1996 Shootdown..23
Initiatives to Strengthen Sanctions on Cuba.......................24
Initiatives to Ease Sanctions on Cuba............................25
Initiatives Regarding Cuba’s Human Rights Situation................27
Initiatives Regarding Drug Trafficking Issues......................28
Initiative to Evaluate U.S. Policy on Cuba........................29
Initiatives Related to the Elian Gonzalez Case.....................29
Funding For Radio and TV Marti...............................29
For Additional Reading..........................................30
Cuba: Issues and Legislation in the 106th
End-of-Session Legislative Developments
On October 18, the Senate agreed to the conference report (H.Rept. 106-948)
on H.R. 4461, the FY2001 agriculture appropriations bill, by a vote of 86-8. It was
signed into law October 28 (P.L. 106-387). Title IX of this bill allows the export of
food and medicine to Cuba and other countries against whom the United States has
imposed economic sanctions for foreign policy purposes. In the case of Cuba,
however, no U.S. assistance or financing may be provided by any U.S. entity, public
or private, for such sales. (The President may waive the prohibition of U.S.
assistance for commercial exports to Iran, Libya, North Korea, or Sudan for national
security or humanitarian reasons.) Sales of food and medicine to Cuba may only
be paid for by cash in advance or through third country financing. The bill also
codified existing embargo regulations by prohibiting both the importation of
merchandise from Cuba and travel for tourism to Cuba. (For more, see sections on
“Travel Restrictions” and on”Food and Medical Exports” below.)
In the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-
386), sections 2002 and 2003 direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay
compensatory damages for certain claims against Cuba (and Iran). As provided for
in this bill, President Clinton waived such payments in the interest of national
security when he signed the bill into law on October 28, 2000.
With the cutoff of assistance from the former Soviet Union, Cuba experienced
severe economic deterioration from 1989-1993, although there has been some
improvement since 1994. Estimates of economic decline in the 1989-93 period range
from 35-50%. The economy reportedly grew 0.7% in 1994, 2.5% in 1995, and 7.8%
in 1996. While the Cuban government originally was predicting a growth rate of 4-5%
for 1997, growth for the year was just 2.5%, largely because of disappointing sugar
production. For 1998, the government’s goal was for a growth rate of 2.5-3.5%, but
another poor sugar harvest, a severe drought in eastern Cuba, and the effects of
Hurricane Georges resulted in an estimated growth rate of just 1.2%. In 1999, the
economy grew 6.2%, and a growth rate of 5% is projected for 2000.
Socialist Cuba has prided itself on the nation’s accomplishments in health and
education. For example, according to the World Bank, the literacy rate is 94% and
life expectancy is 76 years, compared to 79% and 68 years average for other
middle-income developing countries. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
reports that Cuba’s infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) was just 7.9 in 1996,
the lowest rate in Latin America and among the world’s top 20 countries for this
indicator. Nevertheless, the country’s economic decline has reduced living standards
considerably and resulted in shortages in medicines and medical supplies.
When Cuba’s economic slide began in 1989, the government showed little
willingness to adopt any significant market-oriented economic reforms, but in 1993,
faced with unprecedented economic decline, Cuba began to change policy direction.
Since 1993, Cubans have been allowed to own and use U.S. dollars and to shop at
dollar-only shops previously limited to tourists and diplomats. Self-employment was
authorized in more than 100 occupations in 1993, most in the service sector, and by
1996 that figure had grown to more than 150 occupations. Other Cuban economic
reforms included breaking up large state farms into smaller, more autonomous,
agricultural cooperatives (Basic Units of Cooperative Production, UBPCs) in 1993;
opening agricultural markets in September 1994 where farmers could sell part of their
produce on the open market; opening artisan markets in October 1994 for the sale of
handicrafts; allowing private food catering, including home restaurants (paladares)
in June 1995 (in effect legalizing activities that were already taking place); approving
a new foreign investment law in September 1995 that allows fully owned investments
by foreigners in all sectors of the economy with the exception of defense, health, and
education; and authorizing the establishment of free trade zones with tariff reductions
typical of such zones in June 1996. In May 1997, the government enacted legislation
to reform the banking system and established a new Central Bank (BCC) to operate
as an autonomous and independent entity.
Despite these measures, the quality of life for many Cubans remains difficult,
characterized by low wages, high prices for many basic goods, shortages of
medicines, and power outages. Moreover, some analysts fear that the government has
begun to backtrack on its reform efforts. Regulations and new taxes have made it
extremely difficult for many of the nation’s self-employed (at one point estimated at
more than 200,000, but now estimated at 160,000 or lower, out of a total labor force
of some 4.5 million). Some home restaurants have been forced to close because of
the regulations. Some foreign investors in Cuba have also begun to complain that the
government has backed out of deals or forced them out of business.1
Although Cuba has undertaken some limited economic reforms, politically the
country remains a hard-line Communist state. Fidel Castro, who turned 73 on
August 13, 1999, has ruled since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which ousted the
corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista from power. Castro soon laid the
foundations for an authoritarian regime by consolidating power and forcing moderates
out of the government. In April 1961, Castro admitted that the Cuban Revolution
was socialist, and in December 1961, he proclaimed himself to be a Marxist-Leninist.
From 1959 until 1976, Castro ruled by decree.
1 “Crackdowns, Restrictions, Sour Investors in Cuba,” Miami Herald, June 10, 1999, p. 1A.
A constitution was enacted in 1976 setting forth the Communist Party as the
leading force in the state and in society (with power centered in a Politburo headed
by Fidel Castro). The constitution also outlined national, provincial, and local
governmental structures. Executive power is vested in a Council of Ministers, headed
by Fidel Castro as President. Legislative authority is vested in a National Assembly
of People’s Power, currently with 601 members, that meets twice annually for brief
periods. While Assembly members were directly elected for the first time in February
1993, only a single slate of candidates was offered. Elections for the National
Assembly were held for a second time in January 1998. Voters again were not offered
a choice of candidates. From October 8-10, 1997, the Cuban Communist Party held
its 5th Congress (the prior one was held in 1991) in which the party reaffirmed its
commitment to a single party state and reelected Fidel and Raul Castro as the party’s
first and second secretaries.
Pope John Paul II visited Cuba from January 21-25, 1998, and conducted a
series of open-air masses across the country that were televised in Cuba. Numerous
Catholic groups from the United States traveled to Cuba for the Pope’s visit as did
thousands of journalists from around the world. While much of his visit was spent on
pastoral issues, such as encouraging Cubans to come back to the Church, the Pope
also made more political statements. He criticized the U.S. embargo as “unjust and
ethically unacceptable,” but also criticized the Cuban government for denying freedom
to the Cuban people. He asked the government to release “prisoners of conscience,”
and Vatican officials gave Cuba a list of more than 200 prisoners. On February 12,
1998, the Vatican announced that Cuba had freed dozens of detainees, noting that this
step represented a prospect of hope for the future.
There was much speculation about what effect the Pope’s trip to Cuba might
have on the political situation. The trip did not spark unrest from those opposed to
the regime, nor did the government take any actions to loosen the tight political
control of the state and party. Over the longer-term, however, the Pope’s visit could
result in elevating the profile of the Catholic Church in such a way that it emerges as
an important actor in Cuba’s civil society. An enhanced profile could improve its
chances to influence the policies and actions of the government.
Cuba has a poor record on human rights, with the government sharply restricting
basic rights, including freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and
other basic rights. It has cracked down on dissent, arrested human rights activists and
independent journalists, and staged demonstrations against critics. Although some
anticipated a relaxation of the government’s oppressive tactics in the aftermath of the
Pope’s January 1998 visit, government attacks against human rights activists and
other dissidents have continued since that time.
Estimates of the number of political prisoners in Cuba vary considerably since
the Cuban government does not allow human rights organizations to monitor prisons.
According to the State Department’s human rights report covering 1999, human
rights groups inside Cuba estimate the number of political prisoners at between 350
and 400. The overall number of political prisoners probably increased slightly in 1999,
compared to 1998, when Cuba released almost 100 prisoners, many of whom were
on a list given to Castro by Vatican officials during the Pope’s visit.
On July 23, 1999, Human Rights Watch issued a highly critical report on the
human rights situation in Cuba, Cuba’s Repressive Machinery: Human Rights Forty
Years After the Revolution. The report describes how Cuba “has developed a highly
effective machinery of repression,” and has used this “to restrict severely the exercise
of fundamental human rights of expression, association, and assembly.” According
to the report: “In recent years, Cuba has added new repressive laws and continued
prosecuting nonviolent dissidents while shrugging off international appeals for reform
and placating visiting dignitaries with occasional releases of political prisoners.” (The
full report is available on the Human Rights Watch site on the Internet at
The State Department maintains that the human rights situation deteriorated in
1999. According to its human rights report: “The authorities routinely continued to
harass, threaten, arbitrarily arrest, detain, imprison, and defame human rights
advocates and members of independent professional associations, including
journalists, economists, doctors, and lawyers, often with the goal of coercing them
into leaving the country.” In early March 2000, the Cuban Commission for Human
Rights and National Reconciliation noted that political repression increased
considerably from November 1999, when Cuba hosted the Ibero-American summit,
through February 2000.
In May 2000, Cuba released three prominent dissidents from prison. On May 23,
Cuba released Rene Gomez Manzano, while Marta Beatriz Roque was set free on
May 15 and Felix Bonne on May 12. All three were leaders of the “Dissident
Working Group” and had been imprisoned since July 1997. All three have vowed to
continue their peaceful opposition to the Cuban government. One remaining leader
of the group, Vladimiro Roca, remains in prison. The four leaders were convicted by
a Cuban court on March 15, 1999, on charges of “sedition” under the Cuban penal
code after a one-day trial on March 1. Sentences ranged from 3 ½ years for Roque
to 4 years for Bonne and Gomez Manzano and 5 years for Roca. Just before the
dissidents’ trial, scores of human rights advocates, independent journalists, and other
activists were detained so that they could not cover or protest the trial. The four
dissidents had released a document in June 1997 entitled, “The Homeland Belongs to
Us All” [http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y97/jul97/homdoc.htm] that strongly
criticized a draft report of the 5th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party that was
going to be held that October. The dissidents also urged Cubans not to vote in
legislative elections and encouraged foreign investors not to invest in Cuba.
UNCHR Resolutions. From 1991 until 1997, the U.N. Commission on Human
Rights (UNCHR) called on the Cuban government to cooperate with a Special
Representative (later upgraded to Special Rapporteur) designated by the Secretary
General to investigate the human rights situation in Cuba. But Cuba refused to
cooperate with the Special Rapporteur, and the UNCHR annually approved
resolutions condemning Cuba’s human rights record. On April 21, 1998, however,
the UNCHR rejected — by a vote of 16 to 19, with 18 abstentions — the annual
resolution sponsored by the United States that would have condemned Cuba’s rights
record and would have extended the work of the Special Rapporteur for another year.
U.S. officials and human rights activists expressed deep disappointment with the vote.
Observers maintained that the vote did not signify any improvement in human rights
in Cuba, but rather was an expression of disagreement with the United States over its
policy toward Cuba. In 1999 and 2000, the UNCHR again approved resolutions
criticizing Cuba for its human rights record, although it did not appoint a Special
Rapporteur. On April 23, 1999, the UNCHR resolution was approved by a vote of
21-20, with 12 abstentions. On April 18, 2000, the UNCHR resolution, sponsored by
the Czech Republic and Poland, was approved by a vote of 21-18, with 14
Observers are divided over whether the Castro government will endure. While
some believe that the demise of the government is imminent, there is considerable
disagreement over when or how this may occur. Varying scenarios range from a coup
or popular uprising, possibly with support from or acceptance by the Cuban military,
to the voluntary resignation and self-exile of Castro. Some point to Castro’s age and
predict that the regime will collapse without Fidel at the helm. Other observers
maintain that reports of the impending collapse of the Cuban government have been
exaggerated and that Castro may remain in power for years. They point to Cuba’s
strong security apparatus and the extraordinary system of controls that prevents
dissidents from gaining popular support. Moreover, observers maintain that Cuba’s
elite has no interest in Castro’s overthrow, and that Castro still enjoys some support,
in part because of the social benefits of the Cuban revolution, but also because Cubans
see no alternative to Castro. Even if Castro is overthrown or resigns, the important
question remaining is the possibility or viability of a stable democratic Cuba after
Castro. Analysts point out that the Castro government has successfully impeded the
development of independent civil society, with no private sector, no independent labor
movement, and no unified political opposition. For this reason, they contend that
building a democratic Cuba will be a formidable task, one that could meet stiff
resistance from many Cubans.
U.S. Policy Toward Cuba
In the early 1960s, U.S.-Cuban relations deteriorated sharply when Fidel Castro
began to build a repressive communist dictatorship and moved his country toward
close relations with the Soviet Union. The often tense and hostile nature of the U.S.-
Cuban relationship is illustrated by such events and actions as: U.S. covert operations
to overthrow the Castro government culminating in the ill-fated April 1961 Bay of
Pigs invasion; the October 1962 missile crisis in which the United States confronted
the Soviet Union over its attempt to place offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba; Cuban
support for guerrilla insurgencies and military support for revolutionary governments
in Africa and the Western Hemisphere; the 1980 exodus of around 125,000 Cubans
to the United States in the so-called Mariel boatlift; the 1994 exodus of more than
Panama; and the February 1996 shootdown by Cuban fighter jets of two U.S. civilian
planes, resulting in the death of four U.S. crew members.2
Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy toward Cuba has consisted largely of isolating
the island nation through comprehensive economic sanctions. The Clinton
Administration has essentially continued this policy of isolating Cuba. The principal
tool of U.S. policy remains comprehensive sanctions, which were made stronger with
the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992 and with the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-114), often referred to as the
Helms/Burton legislation. The CDA prohibits U.S. subsidiaries from engaging in
trade with Cuba and prohibits entry into the United States for any vessel to load or
unload freight if it has engaged in trade with Cuba within the last 180 days. The
Helms/Burton legislation — enacted in the aftermath of Cuba’s shooting down of two
U.S. civilian planes in February 1996 — combines a variety of measures to increase
pressure on Cuba and provides for a plan to assist Cuba once it begins the transition
to democracy. Among the law’s sanctions is a provision in Title III that holds any
person or government that traffics in U.S. property confiscated by the Cuban
government liable for monetary damages in U.S. federal court. Acting under
provisions of the law, President Clinton has suspended the implementation of Title III
at six-month intervals.
Another component of U.S. policy consists of support measures for the Cuban
people, a so-called second track of U.S. policy. This includes U.S. private
humanitarian donations, U.S. government support for democracy-building efforts for
Cuba, and U.S.- sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba, Radio and TV
Marti. According to the Administration, the two-track policy of isolating Cuba, but
reaching out to the Cuban people, meets both U.S. strategic and humanitarian
In the aftermath of the Pope’s January 1998 visit to Cuba, the Clinton
Administration made several changes to U.S. policy intended to augment U.S. support
for the Cuban people. In March 1998, President Clinton announced: 1) the resumption
of licensing for direct humanitarian charter flights to Cuba (which had been curtailed
after the February 1996 shootdown of two U.S. civilian planes); 2) the resumption of
cash remittances up to $300 per quarter for the support of close relatives in Cuba
(which had been curtailed in August 1994 in response to the migration crisis with
Cuba); 3) the development of licensing procedures to streamline and expedite licenses
for the commercial sale of medicines and medical supplies and equipment to Cuba;
and 4) a decision to work on a bipartisan basis with Congress on the transfer of food
to the Cuban people. The President stated that his actions would “build further on the
impact of the Pope’s visit to Cuba,” “support the role of the Church and other
elements of civil society in Cuba,” and “help prepare the Cuban people for a
In January 1999, President Clinton announced five additional measures to
support the Cuban people: 1) a broadening cash remittances to Cuba, so that all U.S.
2 For more on the background of U.S.-Cuban relations from CRS see CRS Report RL30386,
Cuba-U.S. Relations: Chronology of Key Events Since 1959.
residents (not just those with close relatives in Cuba) are allowed to send $300 per
quarter to any Cuban family and licensing larger remittances by U.S. citizens and non-
governmental organizations to entities independent of the Cuban government; 2) an
expansion of direct passenger charter flights to Cuba from additional U.S. cities other
than the current flights from Miami, and to cities other than Havana (direct flights
later in the year began from Los Angeles and New York); 3) the re-establishment of
direct mail service to Cuba, which was suspended in 1962 (this measure has not yet
been negotiated with the Cuban government); 4) authorization for the commercial sale
of food to independent entities in Cuba such as religious groups and private
restaurants and the sale of agricultural inputs to independent entities such as private
farmers and farmer cooperatives producing food for sale in private markets and 5) an
expansion of people-to-people contact through two-way exchanges among academics,
athletes, and scientists.
Over the years, although U.S. policymakers have agreed on the overall objective
of U.S. policy toward Cuba — to help bring democracy and respect for human rights
to the island — there have been several schools of thought about how to achieve that
objective. Some advocate a policy of keeping maximum pressure on the Cuban
government until reforms are enacted, while continuing current U.S. efforts to
support the Cuban people. Others argue for an approach, sometimes referred to as
constructive engagement, that would lift some U.S. sanctions that they believe are
hurting the Cuban people, and move toward engaging Cuba with dialogue. Still others
call for a swift normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations by lifting the U.S. embargo.
In general, those advocating a loosening of the sanctions-based policy toward
Cuba make several policy arguments. They assert that if the United States moderated
its policy toward Cuba – through increased travel, trade and diplomatic dialogue, that
the seeds of reform would be planted in Cuba, which would stimulate and strengthen
forces for peaceful change on the island. They stress the importance to the United
States of avoiding violent change in Cuba, with the prospect of a mass exodus to the
United States and the potential of involving the United States in a civil war scenario.
They argue that since Castro’s demise does not appear imminent, the United States
should espouse a more realistic approach in trying to induce change in Cuba.
Supporters of changing policy also point to broad international support for lifting the
U.S. embargo, to the missed opportunities to U.S. businesses because of the embargo,
and to the increased suffering of the Cuban people because of the embargo.
Proponents of change also argue that the United States should adhere to some
consistency in its policies with the world’s few remaining Communist governments,
and also maintain that moderating policy will help advance human rights in Cuba.
On the other side, opponents of changing U.S. policy maintain that the current
two-track policy of isolating Cuba, but reaching out to the Cuban people through
measures of support, is the best means for realizing political change in Cuba. They
point out that the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 sets forth a
road map for what steps Cuban needs to take in order for the United States to
normalize relations, including lifting the embargo. They argue that softening U.S.
policy at this time without concrete Cuban reforms would boost the Castro regime
politically and economically, enabling the survival of the Communist regime.
Opponents of softening U.S. policy argue that the United States should stay the
course in its commitment to democracy and human rights in Cuba; that sustained
sanctions can work; and that the sanctions against Cuba have only come to full impact
with the loss of large subsidies from the former Soviet bloc. Opponents of loosening
U.S. sanctions further argue that Cuba’s failed economic policies, not the U.S.
embargo, are the causes of the economy’s rapid decline.
Numerous measures have been introduced in the 106th Congress that reflect the
range of views on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Legislative action in the second session
has focused on initiatives to ease restrictions on U.S. food and medical exports to
Cuba and initiatives to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba. At the same time, there has
been legislative action to increase sanctions: by conditioning aid to Russia on closing
the Russian signals intelligence facility at Lourdes, Cuba; and by making it easier for
enforcement of anti-terrorism judgments in U.S. courts, thereby allowing for a $187.6
million 1997 judgment against Cuba to be paid from Cuba’s frozen assets in the
United States to the families of three U.S. citizens killed when Cuba shot down two
U.S. planes in 1996. Other initiatives introduced in the 106th Congress deal with such
issues as Cuba’s poor human rights situation, cooperation with Cuba on drug
trafficking efforts, and the Elian Gonzalez immigration case. (For a full list of
initiatives, see “Legislative Initiatives in the 106th Congress” below.)
Issues in U.S.-Cuban Relations
Compensation for February 1996 Shootdown
On February 24, 1996, Cuban Mig-29 fighter jets shot down two Cessna 337s
in the Florida Straits, which resulted in the death of four members of the Cuban
American group Brothers to the Rescue. The group was known primarily for its
humanitarian missions of spotting Cubans fleeing their island nation on rafts but had
also become active in flying over Cuba and dropping leaflets.
In 1996, President Clinton authorized $300,000 to each of the families of the
four victims, which was drawn from a pot of $148.3 million in Cuban assets frozen
in the United States. However, on December 17, 1997, a U.S. federal judge awarded
$187.6 million ($49.9 million in compensatory damages and $137.7 million in punitive
damages) to the families of three of the shootdown victims who sued under a
provision in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-
132). (The fourth shootdown victim was not a U.S. citizen, and therefore not eligible
to sue under the Act.) Cuba refused to recognize the court’s jurisdiction.
In a federal lawsuit, relatives of three of the shootdown victims who were U.S.
citizens are attempting to collect the judgment against the Cuban government
through proceeds to Cuba from U.S. telephone companies. On March 18, 1999, a
federal judge awarded $6.2 million of the telephone payments to the families’ victims.
Of this amount, $4.15 million would come from AT&T, $1.05 million would come
from MCI, and the remainder would come from LDDS Communications, IDB
Telecommunications Services, and WilTel LLC. On August 11, 1999, however, a
federal appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision and ruled that the families
could not collect the $6.2 million, because the Cuban telephone company, ETECSA,
is an entity separate from the Cuban government.
A provision in the FY1999 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 105-277, H.R.
4328) could have affected the payment of the December 1997 judgment from Cuba’s
frozen assets in the United States. That provision stipulates that foreign states are not
immune from U.S. judgments for violations of international law. However, the
provision also includes a presidential waiver for national security interests, which the
President exercised October 21, 1998. The Clinton Administration opposed the
provision, maintaining that it would undermine the authority of the President to use
assets of countries under economic sanctions as leverage when sanctions are used to
modify the behavior of a foreign state. Supporters maintain that it would let those
nations who sponsor terrorism know that if they are found guilty in U.S. court, their
assets will be liquidated in order to serve justice.
A provision in Section 118 of the Senate-approved version of H.R. 2490, the
FY2000 Treasury Appropriations bill, would have limited the ability of the President
to prevent frozen assets from being seized, but the provision was not included in the
September 14, 1999 conference report.
Subsequently, the provision was introduced as a freestanding bill, S. 1796
(Lautenberg), on October 26, 1999. S. 1796 would amend the enforcement of certain
anti-terrorism judgments in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
(28 USC 1602-11) against foreign states designated to be state sponsors of terrorism,
taking away the current presidential waiver for national security interests except for
the protection of diplomatic property. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported the
bill March 9, 2000, and the measure was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
under General Orders. An identical House bill, H.R. 3485 (McCollum), was
introduced November 18, 1999. The House Committee on the Judiciary reported the
bill July 13, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-733) and the measure was placed on the Union
Calendar. A supplemental report on H.R. 3485 was filed July 18, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-
733, Part II). The House approved H.R. 3485 by voice vote on July 25, 2000. It was
received in the Senate and placed on the Senate Legislative calendar under General
Orders July 26, 2000.
According to press reports, on July 21, 2000, the Clinton Administration
reportedly proposed a settlement with the families of the three shootdown victims that
would allow them to collect around $50 million in compensatory damages from frozen
Cuban assets in the United States. The families of the victims rejected the deal, saying
it was unacceptable because they judged it would not punish the Cuban government,
but they said they would continue to negotiate if the Clinton Administration agreed
to include punitive damages in the settlement.3
In the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-
386), sections 2002 and 2003 direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay
compensatory damages for certain claims against Cuba (and Iran). As provided for
in this bill, President Clinton waived such payments in the interest of national security
when he signed the bill into law on October 28, 2000.
3 Weaver, Jay. “Pilots’ Families Reject U.S. Deal Punitive Damages Sought in ‘96 Cuba
Shoot-down,” Miami Herald, July 25, 2000.
Major Provisions. As enacted into law March 12, 1996, the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act, P.L. 104-114, contains three significant provisions. Title
I, Section 102(h), codifies all existing Cuban embargo Executive Orders and
regulations. No presidential waiver is provided for any of these codified embargo
provisions. This provision is significant because of the long-lasting effect on U.S.
policy options toward Cuba. In effect, the Clinton Administration and subsequent
administrations will be circumscribed in any changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba.
Title III allows U.S. nationals to sue for money damages in U.S. federal court
those persons that traffic in property confiscated in Cuba. It extends the right to sue
to Cuban Americans who became U.S. citizens after their properties were confiscated.
The President has authority to delay implementation for a period of six months at a
time if he determines that such a delay would be in the national interest and would
expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.
Title IV of the law denies admission to the United States to aliens involved in
the confiscation of U.S. property in Cuba or in the trafficking of confiscated U.S.
property in Cuba. This includes corporate officers, principals, or shareholders with
a controlling interest of an entity involved in the confiscation of U.S. property or
trafficking of U.S. property. It also includes the spouse, minor child, or agent of
aliens who would be excludable under the provision. This provision is mandatory,
and only waiveable on a case-by-case basis for travel to the United States for
humanitarian medical reasons or for individuals to defend themselves in legal actions
regarding confiscated property.
Implementation of Title III and IV. With regard to Title III, since July 1996
President Clinton has suspended — for six month periods, as provided for under the
act — the right of individuals to file suit against those persons benefitting from
confiscated U.S. property in Cuba. At the time of the first suspension on July 16,
1996, the President announced that he would allow Title III to go into effect, and as
a result liability for trafficking under the title became effective on November 1, 1996.
According to the Clinton Administration, this put foreign companies in Cuba on
notice that they face prospects of future lawsuits and significant liability in the United
States. At the second suspension on January 3, 1997, President Clinton stated that
he would continue to suspend the right to file law suits “as long as America’s friends
and allies continued their stepped-up efforts to promote a transition to democracy in
Cuba.” The President has continued, at six-month intervals, to suspend the rights to
file Title III lawsuits, with the most recent suspension on January 15, 2000.
With regard to Title IV of the legislation, to date the State Department has
banned from the United States a number of executives and their families from three
companies because of their investment in confiscated U.S. property in Cuba: Grupos
Domos, a Mexican telecommunications company; Sherritt International, a Canadian
mining company; and BM Group, an Israeli-owned citrus company. In 1997, Grupos
Domos disinvested from U.S.-claimed property in Cuba, and as a result its executives
are again eligible to enter the United States. Action against executives of STET, an
Italian telecommunications company was averted by a July 1997 agreement in which
the company agreed to pay the U.S.-based ITT Corporation $25 million for the use
of ITT-claimed property in Cuba for ten years. In the 105th Congress, the FY1999
omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 105-277, H.R. 4328) included a provision that
requires the Administration to report on the implementation of Title IV of the
Helms/Burton legislation. The State Department is investigating a Spanish hotel
company, Sol Melia, for allegedly investing in property that was confiscated from
U.S. citizens in Cuba’s Holguin province in 1961.
Foreign Reaction and the EU’s WTO Challenge. Many U.S. allies —
including Canada, Japan, Mexico, and European Union (EU) nations — have strongly
criticized the enactment of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. They
maintain that the law’s provisions allowing foreign persons to be sued in U.S. court
constitute an extraterritorial application of U.S. law that is contrary to international
principles. U.S. officials maintain that the United States, which reserves the right to
protect its security interests, is well within its obligations under NAFTA and the
World Trade Organization (WTO).
Until mid-April 1997, the EU had been pursuing its case at the WTO, in which
it was challenging the Helms/Burton legislation as an extraterritorial application of
U.S. law. The beginning of a settlement on the issue occurred on April 11, 1997,
when an EU-U.S. understanding was reached. In the understanding, both sides
agreed to continue efforts to promote democracy in Cuba and to work together to
develop an agreement on agreed disciplines and principles for the strengthening of
investment protection relating to the confiscation of property by Cuba and other
governments. As part of the understanding, the EU agreed that it would suspend its
WTO dispute settlement case. Subsequently in mid-April 1998, the EU agreed to let
its WTO challenge expire.
Talks between the U.S. and the EU on investment disciplines proved difficult,
with the EU wanting to cover only future investments and the U.S. wanting to cover
past expropriations, especially in Cuba. Nevertheless, after months of negotiations,
the EU and the United States reached a second understanding on May 18, 1998. The
understanding sets forth EU disciplines regarding investment in expropriated
properties worldwide, in exchange for the Clinton Administration’s success at
obtaining a waiver from Congress for the legislation’s Title IV visa restrictions.
Future investment in expropriated property would be barred. For past illegal
expropriations, government support or assistance for transactions related to those
expropriated properties would be denied. A Registry of Claims would also be
established to warn investors and government agencies providing investment support
that a property has a record of claims. These investment disciplines would be applied
at the same time that President Clinton’s new Title IV waiver authority was exercised.
Reaction was mixed among Members of Congress to the EU-U.S. accord, but
opposition to the agreement by several senior Members has forestalled any
amendment of Title IV in Congress. In a letter to Secretary of State Albright,
Representative Gilman and Senator Helms criticized the understanding for not
covering companies already invested in expropriated property. Among other
criticisms, they argued that the understanding only proposes a weak sanction (denying
government support) that may not deter companies that are willing to invest in Cuba.4
On the other side, however, some Members support the EU-U.S. understanding.
They maintain that the understanding is important because it increases protection for
the property of Americans worldwide and discourages investment in illegally
confiscated property in Cuba.
Section 211 Trademark Provision
Another potential EU challenge of U.S. law regarding Cuba in the WTO involves
a dispute between the French spirits company, Pernod Ricard, and the Bermuda-
based Bacardi Ltd. Pernod Ricard entered into a joint venture with the Cuban
government to produce and export Havana Club rum, but Bacardi maintains that it
holds the right to the Havana Club name. A provision in the FY1999 omnibus
appropriations measure (Section 211 of Division A, title II, P.L. 105-277, signed into
law October 21, 1998) prevents the United States from accepting payment for
trademark licenses that were used in connection with a business or assets in Cuba that
were confiscated unless the original owner of the trademark has consented. The
provision prohibits U.S. courts from recognizing such trademarks without the consent
of the original owner. Although Pernod Ricard cannot market Havana Club in the
United States because of the trade embargo, it wants to protect its future distribution
rights when the embargo is lifted.
After Bacardi began selling rum in the United States under the Havana Club
label, Pernod Ricard’s joint venture unsuccessfully challenged Bacardi in U.S. federal
court. In February 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New
York upheld a lower court’s ruling that the joint venture had no legal right to use the
Havana Club name in the United States. Pernod Ricard has vowed to take the issue
to the U.S. Supreme Court.5
Formal U.S.-EU consultations on the issue were held in September and
December 1999 without resolution. In late 1999 EU.-U.S. talks, the EU reportedly
proposed a resolution for the issue that would involve making the law only
prospective, but the United States has not responded to that proposal.6 In July 2000,
the EU requested a WTO dispute resolution panel to consider the issue, maintaining
that it violates the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
(TRIPS), but the United States blocked the EU’s request. Reportedly the EU will
make another request for the WTO dispute settlement body to rule on the issue when
the body meets again in late September 2000, in which case the United States would7
not be allowed to block the EU’s request for a second time.
4 “Text: Helms, Gilman Letter on Helms-Burton,” Inside U.S. Trade. June 17, 1998.
5 “Battle Over Cuban Rum Trademark New Threat to EU-U.S. Relations,” International
Trade Reporter, February 17, 2000, p. 269.
6 “Commission Seeks Support for WTO Case in U.S. Trademark Law,” Inside U.S. Trade,
February 18, 2000.
7 “Rum Trademark Case Goes to WTO,” Associated Press, July 27, 2000.
The Clinton Administration did not support the trademark provision in the
FY1999 omnibus appropriations bill. According to an internal memo prepared for the
United States Trade Representative that was cited in the press, the language of the
provision “violates our obligations under the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects on
Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement.”8 However, the Administration did not
move to make any changes to the provision of the law.
Food and Medical Exports
In recent years, the U.S. sanctions regime has allowed the sale of both food and
medical exports, but with restrictions. The agricultural appropriations bill for FY2001
that was passed by Congress in October 2000 (P.L. 106-387) terminates unilateral
medical and agricultural sanctions, broadening what can be sold and to whom. But
it also maintains the prohibition against the U.S. financing of such sales, and limits
licenses to one year.
Several restrictions on commercial medical exports were set forth in the Cuban
Democracy Act of 1992. On March 20, 1998, President Clinton announced that the
Administration would develop licensing procedures to streamline and expedite
licenses for the commercial sale of medicines and medical supplies and equipment to
Cuba. The simplified procedures were put in place by the Commerce and Treasury
Departments in May 1998.
With regard to commercial food sales, in 1999 President Clinton authorized the
sale of food and agriculture inputs to independent entities in Cuba, such as religious
groups, private farmers, and private restaurants. Treasury and Commerce Department
regulations for these sales were issued May 13, 1999 (with an effective date of May
10.) The Administration hoped the policy change would support Cuba’s small private
sector. To date, however, it appears that actual food sales have been negligible.
Some in the business community argue that the changes in policy have not
amounted to much because they still do not allow financing for the sales.
Nevertheless, U.S. agribusiness companies continue to explore the Cuban market for
potential future sales. The Cuban government told a group of U.S. farmers who
traveled there in November, after passage of the new law, that it was interested in
buying U.S. agricultural exports but refuses to buy any U.S. food under the financing
restrictions imposed by that new law.
Opponents of easing restrictions maintain that U.S. policy does not deny medical
sales to Cuba, and since May 1999, does not deny food sales to independent groups
in Cuba. Moreover, according to the State Department, since the Cuban Democracy
Act was enacted in 1992, the United States has licensed more than $2.5 billion in
private humanitarian donations, including $227 million in donations of medicines and
medical equipment. Opponents of easing U.S. sanctions further argue that easing
pressure on the Cuban government would in effect be lending support and extending
the duration of the Castro regime. They maintain that the United States should remain
8 “Internal USTR Memo Calls for New Approach to Congress in 1999,” Inside U.S. Trade.
November 27, 1998.
steadfast in its opposition to any easing of pressure on Cuba that could prolong the
Castro regime and its repressive policies.
Supporters of easing restrictions on food and medical exports to Cuba argue that
the restrictions harm the health and nutrition of the Cuban population. They argue
that licensing procedures set up for the commercial sale of medical exports to Cuba
are so complex that they essentially constitute a ban on such exports because of long
delays and increased costs. They argue that although the U.S. government may have
licensed more than $2.5 billion in humanitarian donations to Cuba since 1992, in fact
much smaller amounts have actually been sent to Cuba. Some supporters of easing
sanctions believe the embargo plays into Castro’s hands by allowing him to use U.S.
policy as a scapegoat for his failed economic policies and as a rationale for political
repression. Other supporters of eased restrictions argue that U.S. policy has
complicated relations with our allies who have adopted a “constructive engagement”
approach toward Cuba. U.S. agribusiness companies that support the removal of
trade restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba believe that U.S. farmers are missing
out on a market of some $700 million so close to the United States.
Legislative Initiatives in the 106th Congress. The most significant action in
the first session of the 106th Congress occurred during August 4, 1999 Senate
consideration of the FY2000 Agriculture Appropriations bill, S. 1233. A modified
Ashcroft amendment was approved requiring congressional approval before the
imposition of any unilateral agricultural or medical sanction against a foreign country.
However, under the modified amendment, agricultural and medical exports to state
sponsors of international terrorism — which includes Cuba — would be allowed
pursuant to one year licenses issued by the U.S. government, and without any federal
financing or export assistance. An attempt to table the Ashcroft amendment, before
it was modified to restrict exports to sponsors of international terrorism, was defeated
by a vote of 28 to 70 on August 3, 1999. The Senate subsequently approved S. 1233
and incorporated the language into H.R. 1906, with the Ashcroft amendment included
as subsection 748 (k). The House version of the bill had no such provision, and
ultimately the Ashcroft provision was not included in the conference report. Several
Senators expressed strong disapproval with the manner in which the issue was
decided. When the conference committee came to a stalemate over the Ashcroft
provision on sanctions and another provision on dairy prices, the House and Senate
Majority Leadership brokered an agreement that dropped the Ashcroft provision.
In the second session of the 106th Congress, there have been efforts in three
legislative vehicles – the foreign aid authorization bill (S. 2382), FY2001 agriculture
appropriations bill (H.R. 4461), and the FY2001 Treasury Department appropriations
bill (H.R. 4871)– to lift restrictions on food and medical exports to Cuba. On March
23, 2000, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee included a provision in its FY2001
foreign aid authorization bill, S. 2382, the Technical Assistance, Trade Promotion,
and Anti-Corruption Act. As reported by the Committee on April 7, 2000 (S.Rept.
106-257), the bill contains a provision similar to the Ashcroft provision on sanctions
in the Senate version of the FY2000 agriculture appropriations bill described above.
Title I, Subtitle C of S. 2382 would lift restrictions on food and medicine exports and
allow licensed exports of these goods to countries classified as state sponsors of
international terrorism, which includes Cuba. Agricultural and medical exports to
these countries would be allowed pursuant to one-year licenses issued by the U.S.
Both the House and Senate versions of the FY2001 agriculture appropriations
bill (H.R. 4461 and S. 2536) as reported out of their respective committees included
a provision similar to that in the foreign aid authorization bill that effectively would
allow U.S. food and medical exports to Cuba. In the Senate bill, the provision was
approved by voice vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on May 9 through
an amendment offered by Senator Byron Dorgan. The full Senate approved H.R.
4461 on July 20, 2000, which included the title allowing food and medical exports to
In the House version of the bill, on May 4, 2000, the House Appropriations
Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture approved an amendment by
Representative George Nethercutt that would lift restrictions on food and medical
exports and allow licensed exports of these goods to countries classified as state
sponsors of international terrorism, which includes Cuba. Subsequently, on May 10,
the full House Appropriations Committee defeated (by a vote of 24-35) an attempt
by Representative Tom DeLay to delete the title in H.R. 4461 that would lift
restrictions on U.S. food and medical exports worldwide. Continued opposition by
the House GOP leadership and some Members to the sanctions-loosening effort led
to a June 27 compromise agreement hammered out among the House GOP
leadership, the House sponsors of the provision, and Members who opposed the
initiative. Under the reported compromise, U.S. food and medical exports to Cuba
would be allowed pursuant to one-year licenses, but no U.S. government or U.S.
private financing could be provided for the transactions. The agreement includes a
provision stating that licensed U.S. travel to Cuba may not include travel for tourist
activities, as well as another provision that would prohibit all U.S. government
assistance to Cuba without any presidential waiver authority. Critics charged that the
restrictions were so great that sales would be practically impossible, and that the new
provisions on travel would tighten restrictions on certain categories of non-tourist
travel currently allowed by the Treasury Department regulations.
When the House debated H.R. 4461, on July 10, 2000, the title dealing with food
and medical exports was deleted on a point of order by Representative Diaz-Balart
against legislation in an appropriation measure. However, the compromise language
agreed to on June 27 was reportedly the basis of the House position in the conference
to H.R. 4461. The Senate-passed provision was less restrictive than the June 27
compromise agreement. Another House floor amendment by Representative Rangel
that sought to ease restrictions on trade with Cuba by eliminating funding to
implement provisions in the foreign assistance and other statutes that prohibit U.S.
exports to Cuba was ruled to be non-germane.
In the final version of the FY2001 Agriculture appropriations bill that was signed
into law on October 28, 2000, the sale of agricultural and medical products to Cuba
is allowed, but any U.S. financing – public or private – is prohibited. The bill also
codified existing embargo regulations by prohibiting imports from Cuba and travel for
tourism to Cuba.
During House consideration of the FY2001 Treasury Department appropriations
bill, H.R. 4871, the House approved (301-116) a Moran (KS) amendment that would
prohibit any funds in the bill from being used to implement any U.S. sanction on
private commercial sales of agricultural commodities or medicine or medical supplies
to Cuba. Although passage of the amendment marked a significant departure from
the longstanding sanctions-oriented policy toward Cuba, its language was eliminated
from a new version of the FY2001 Treasury Department appropriations bill, H.R.
4985, introduced on July 26. This version, with no mention of Cuba, was
subsequently appended to the Legislative Branch appropriations bill, H.R. 4516, on
Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key component in U.S. efforts to
isolate the communist government of Fidel Castro for much of the past 40 years. Over
time there have been numerous changes to the restrictions and for 5 years, from 1977
until 1982, there were no restrictions on travel. On June 30, 1999, an attempt in the
Senate to end the restrictions was defeated (55-43) during consideration of the
foreign aid appropriations bill, S. 1234, but similar free standing legislation was
introduced in each body, S. 1919 (Dodd), H.R. 259 (Serrano), and H.R. 4471
(Sanford). Moreover, on July 20, 2000, during consideration of the FY2001 Treasury
Department appropriations bill, H.R. 4871, a Sanford amendment was approved (232-
186) that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used to administer or enforce the
Cuban Assets Control Regulations with respect to any travel or travel-related
transaction. While passage of the amendment marked a significant departure from the
longstanding sanctions-oriented policy toward Cuba, the language of the amendment
was eliminated from a new version of the FY2001 Treasury Department
appropriations bill, H.R. 4985, which was appended to the conference report (H.Rept.
As noted above in the discussion of H.R. 4461, the FY2001 agriculture
appropriations bill, the final version of the food and medical provision states that
licensed U.S. travel to Cuba may not include travel for tourist activities. Moreover,
the law imposed tighter restrictions on non-tourist travel previously allowed by the
Treasury Department regulations.
Major arguments made for lifting the Cuba travel ban are: it hinders efforts to
influence conditions in Cuba and may be aiding Castro by helping restrict the flow of
information; it abridges the rights of ordinary Americans; and Americans can travel
to other countries with communist or authoritarian governments. Major arguments
in opposition to lifting the Cuba travel ban are: American tourist travel would support
Castro’s rule by providing his government with millions of dollars in tourist receipts;
there are legal provisions allowing travel to Cuba for humanitarian purposes that are
used by thousands of Americans each year; and the President should be free to restrict
travel for foreign policy reasons. (For more details, see CRS Report RS20409, Cuba:
U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Legislative Initiatives in the 106th Congress.)
Drug Trafficking Cooperation
Because of Cuba’s geographic location, its waters and airspace are used by drug
traffickers to transit low levels of cocaine and marijuana for ultimate destination to the
United States. Cuban officials have expressed concerns over the use of their waters
and airspace for drug transit as well as increased domestic drug use by way of the
growing tourist sector. Cuba has made a number of law enforcement efforts to deal
with the drug problem, including legislation to stiffen penalties for traffickers and
cooperation with a number of countries on anti-drug efforts. The United States
cooperates with Cuba on anti-drug efforts on a case-by-case basis, and there are
undergoing efforts to make bilateral cooperation more systematic.
On June 21, 1999, U.S. and Cuban officials met in Havana to discuss ways of
improving anti-drug cooperation. According to the State Department, Cuba accepted
an upgrading of the current telex link between the Cuban Border Guard and the U.S.
Coast Guard as well as the stationing of a U.S. Coast Guard officer at the U.S.
Interests Section in Havana. Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National
Drug Control Policy, has stated that Cuba had demonstrated a willingness to help the
United States in anti-narcotics efforts but has been ineffective because of a lack of
resources. Some Members have called for closer U.S.-Cuban cooperation on anti-
drug measures (see H.R. 2365), while some, strongly opposing such efforts, have
called on Cuba to be added to the State Department’s list of major-drug producing
or transit countries (see H.R. 2422). They believe that the Cuban government is
involved in the drug trade, although the State Department asserts that the United
States has no credible evidence of recent high-level official drug-related corruption
in Cuba. H.R. 3427, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2000 and
FY2001, enacted into law by reference in P.L. 106-113, requires a report within 120
days on the extent of international drug trafficking through Cuba since 1990.
On November 10, 1999, the Clinton Administration decided not to add Cuba to
the annual list of major drug transit countries. According to the Department of State,
“Cuba was not placed on the list of major drug transit countries because there is no
clear evidence that cocaine or heroin are transiting Cuba on the way to the United
States in quantities that significantly affect the United States.” (Daily Press Briefing,
November 10, 1999) Some Members of Congress strongly objected to Cuba not
being included on the list. A hearing on the issue was held November 17, 1999,
before the House Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Criminal
Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources.
During June 21, 2000 Senate consideration of the FY2001 foreign aid
appropriations bill, S. 2522, the Senate approved by voice vote an amendment offered
by Senator Specter for up to $1 million to fund the Secretary of Defense to work with
Cuba to provide for greater cooperation, coordination, and other assistance in the
interdiction of illicit drugs. The final bill omitted that language.
Russian Intelligence Facility in Cuba
Some Members of Congress have raised concerns about the Russian signals
intelligence facility at Lourdes, Cuba. The facility at Lourdes was built in the
aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. It allows Russia to monitor U.S.
communications, including military communications that Russians contend ensure
compliance with arms control agreements.
In the 104th Congress, the enacted Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act
(P.L. 104-114) contains a provision that would reduce U.S. assistance for Russia by
an amount equal to the sum of assistance and credits provided in support of
intelligence facilities in Cuba. However, the legislation also provides that such a
restriction does not apply to most categories of assistance. Moreover, the legislation
also provides a presidential waiver if such assistance is important to U.S. national
security and if Russia has assured the United States that it is not sharing intelligence
collected at the Lourdes facility with officials or agents of the Cuban government.
In the 106th Congress, on July 19, 2000 the House approved (275-146) H.R.
4118, the Russian-American Trust and Cooperation Act of 2000, that would have
prohibited the rescheduling or forgiveness of any outstanding bilateral debt owed to
the United States by Russia until the President certified that Russia had ceased all its
operations at, removed all personnel from, and permanently closed the intelligence
facility at Lourdes, Cuba. The bill would have provided the President with a national
interests waiver for the prohibition against rescheduling bilateral debt owed to the
United States by Russia, but not for debt forgiveness. The bill also required the
President to instruct the U.S. representative to the Paris Club of official creditors to
use the voice and vote of the U.S. to oppose rescheduling or forgiveness of any
outstanding bilateral debt owed by Russia. No presidential waiver was provided for
this provision. The Senate version, S. 2748, remained in committee.
Those supporting the bill argue that the listening post, which reportedly has been
upgraded in recent years, permits the collection of U.S. military, diplomatic, and
commercial data and allows the invasion of Americans’ privacy. They argue the
compensation paid by Russia to Cuba, estimated at between $100-$300 million
annually, helps prop up the Castro government financially. Those opposed to the bill
argue that facilities such as that at Lourdes help both Russia and the United States to
have confidence that international arms controls agreements are being respected.
They maintain that the bill attempts to undermine U.S. leadership on engagement with
Russia and could threaten U.S. leadership in Paris Club negotiations for debt
rescheduling and forgiveness. The Clinton Administration opposes the legislation,
maintaining that it could call into question U.S. signals intelligence facilities that
perform activities similar to the facility at Lourdes. (Also see CRS Report RS20636,
Russia’s Paris Club Debt: U.S. Interests)
Bipartisan Commission Proposal
In mid-October 1998, Senator John Warner along with 14 other senators from
both parties wrote to President Clinton calling for the formation of a “National
Bipartisan Commission on Cuba,” to conduct an analysis of current U.S. policy that
would help shape and strengthen the future U.S.-Cuban relationship. Another 9
senators signed on to the letter in December, bringing the total number of senators to
24. The senators recommended that the commission members be chosen from a
bipartisan list of distinguished Americans experienced in international relations
representing a cross section of U.S. interests. Some Members opposed the formation
of such a commission, maintaining that the idea was intended to alter U.S. policy. On
January 4, 1999, State Department officials stated that the Clinton Administration had
decided not to set up a bipartisan commission at that time.
A year and half later, the issue of a bipartisan commission was raised in a
legislative proposal by Senator Christopher Dodd. On June 20, 2000 during
consideration of S. 2549, the FY2001 defense authorization bill, the Senate tabled,
by a vote of 59-41, a Dodd amendment that would have established a National
Bipartisan Commission on Cuba to evaluate U.S. policy toward Cuba. The original
proponent of such a commission, Senator Warner, did not support the Dodd
amendment because he believed it could be an impediment to the passage of the
defense authorization measure. Those arguing in favor of such a commission
maintained: that the work of the commission would provide new ideas and thoughts
for the next presidential administration to take office in 2001; that human rights
activists inside Cuba support a rethinking of U.S. policy; and that there is a double
standard regarding the sanctions-based U.S. policy toward Cuba, which contrasts with
the U.S. policy of engagement toward such nations as China, Vietnam, and now even
North Korea. Those opposing the establishment of such a commission argued: that
it was a political attempt to change U.S. policy toward Cuba outside of the normal
conduct of foreign policy by the legislative and executive branches; that it would tie
the hands of the next President to set his own Cuba policy; and that there should be
no movement to change U.S. policy until there is political change in Cuba.
Radio and TV Marti
U.S.-government sponsored radio and television broadcasting to Cuba (Radio
and TV Marti), begun in 1985 and 1990 respectively, have at times been the focus of
controversies, including adherence to broadcast standards. Over the years there have
been various attempts to cut funding for the programs, especially for TV Marti which
has not had an audience because of Cuban jamming efforts. TV Marti offers its daily
broadcasts between the hours of 3:30 am - 8:00 am. (For background on Cuba
broadcasting through 1994, see CRS Report 94-636 F, Radio and Television
Broadcasting to Cuba: Background and Issues Through 1994.)
FY2000 Funding. For FY2000, the Administration requested $22.743 million
for broadcasting to Cuba, with $13.12 million for Radio Marti operations and $9.623
million for TV Marti operations. The FY2000 omnibus appropriations measure, P.L.
106-113, which enacts H.R. 3421 by reference, appropriates $22.095 million for Cuba
broadcasting. The omnibus bill also enacted by reference H.R. 3427, the Foreign
Relations Authorization Act for FY2000 and FY2001, which authorizes $22.743
million for Cuba broadcasting for each of FY2000 and FY2001.
FY2001 Funding. For FY2001, the Administration requested $23.456 million
for broadcasting to Cuba for both Radio and TV Marti. Of that amount, $650,000
is for the purchase of a 100 kilowatt solid state transmitter to improve the operation,
reliability, and efficiency of Radio Marti broadcasts to Cuba. The House-passed
version of H.R. 4690, the FY2001 Commerce, Justice, and State Department
appropriations bill, provided for Cuba broadcasting within the larger funding account
for international broadcasting operations. However, in the report to the bill (H.Rept.
broadcasting. The Senate version of H.R. 4690, reported on July 21, 2000, would
have provided $22.095 million for radio and television broadcasting to Cuba.
H.R. 5548, a subsequent bill making appropriations for the Departments of
Commerce, Justice, and State; the Judiciary; and related agencies, was incorporated
into the H.R. 4942 conference report (H.Rept. 106-1005). Signed into law December
21, 2000 (P.L. 106-553), it provides $22.095 million for radio and television
broadcasting to Cuba.
In 1994 and 1995, Cuba and the United States reached two migration accords
designed to stem the mass exodus of Cubans attempting to reach the United States
by boat. On the minds of U.S. policymakers was the 1980 Mariel boatlift in which
125,000 Cubans fled to the United States. In response to Castro’s threat to unleash
another Mariel, U.S. officials reiterated U.S. resolve not to allow another exodus.
Amidst escalating numbers of fleeing Cubans, on August 19, 1994, President Clinton
abruptly changed U.S. migration policy, under which Cubans attempting to flee their
homeland were allowed into the United States, and announced that the U.S. Coast
Guard and Navy would take Cubans rescued at sea to the U.S. naval base at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite the change in policy, Cubans continued fleeing in
As a result, in early September 1994, Cuba and the United States began talks
that culminated in a September 9, 1994 bilateral agreement to stem the flow of
Cubans fleeing to the United States by boat. In the agreement, the United States and
Cuba agreed to facilitate safe, legal, and orderly Cuban migration to the United States,
consistent with a 1984 migration agreement. The United States agreed to ensure that
total legal Cuban migration to the United States would be a minimum of 20,000 each
year, not including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. In a change of policy, the
United States agreed to discontinue the practice of granting parole to all Cuban
migrants who reach the United States, while Cuba agreed to take measures to prevent
unsafe departures from Cuba.
In May 1995, the United States reached another accord with Cuba under which
the United States would parole the more than 30,000 Cubans housed at Guantanamo
into the United States, but would intercept future Cuban migrants attempting to enter
the United States by sea and would return them to Cuba. The two countries would
cooperate jointly in the effort. Both countries also pledged to ensure that no action
would be taken against those migrants returned to Cuba as a consequence of their
attempt to immigrate illegally. On January 31, 1996, the Department of Defense
announced that the last of some 32,000 Cubans intercepted at sea and housed at
Guantanamo had left the U.S. Naval Base, most having been paroled into the United
States. Periodic U.S.-Cuban talks have been held on the implementation of the
Since the 1995 migration accord, the U.S. Coast Guard has interdicted more
than 3,500 Cubans at sea and returned them to their country, while those deemed at
risk for persecution have been transferred to Guantanamo and then found asylum in
a third country. Those Cubans who reach shore are allowed to apply for permanent
resident status in one year.
Tensions in South Florida heightened after a June 29, 1999 incident — televised
live by local news helicopters — in which the U.S. Coast Guard used a water cannon
and pepper spray to prevent six Cubans from reaching Surfside beach in Florida. The
incident prompted outrage from the Cuban American community in Florida and
several Members of Congress. President Clinton characterized the incident as
“outrageous,” and stated that the treatment was not authorized (Associated Press,
July 1, 1999). Another incident occurred on July 9, 1999, when a boat being
interdicted by the Coast Guard capsized and resulted in the drowning of a Cuban
woman. The State Department expressed regret over the incident and noted that the
Department of Justice and the Immigration and Naturalization Service would
investigate whether this was a case of alien smuggling.
The Cuban government has taken forceful action against individuals engaging in
alien smuggling. Prison sentences of up to three years may be imposed against those
engaging in alien smuggling, and for incidents involving death or violence, a life
sentence may be imposed. As of late July 1999, 30 U.S. residents were being held by
the Cuban government on charges of alien smuggling, and Cuba has offered to return
them to the United States to stand trial. In late September 1999, a Cuban court
convicted two U.S. residents to jail terms of life and 30 years, respectively, for the
smuggling of migrants.
Elian Gonzalez Case. On November 25, 1999, a boat with 13 Cubans
attempting to reach the United States capsized off the coast of Florida. Among the
3 survivors was a 5-year old boy, Elian Gonzalez, who was found clinging to an inner
tube off the coast of Fort Lauderdale. The boy’s mother drowned in the incident.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service released the boy into the care of relatives
in Florida, who said that they would request political asylum for the child. The boy’s
father in Cuba called for his return.
After interviewing the boy’s father in Cuba and the boy’s great-uncle and lawyers
in Miami, the INS ruled on January 4, 2000, that the boy’s father “has the sole legal
authority to speak on behalf of his son, Elian, regarding Elian’s immigration status in
the United States.” According to the INS ruling: “Both U.S. and international law
recognize the unique relationship between parent and child, and family reunification
has long been a cornerstone of both immigration law and INS practice.” The INS
decision called for Elian to be returned to his father by January 14, 2000.
Subsequently, efforts by the boy’s Miami relatives to challenge the ruling resulted in
the Attorney General extending the January 14, 2000 deadline in order to
accommodate any federal court proceedings. On January 10, a Florida circuit court
judge ruled that the boy’s return to Cuba could cause the child “imminent harm” and
scheduled a hearing on the case for March 6. Meanwhile, the Florida judge issued a
temporary protective order for the child to keep him with his Miami relatives until the
March hearing. However, on January 12, 2000. Attorney General Janet Reno
reaffirmed the INS January 4 ruling, and asserted that the Florida state court had no
right to intervene in the case. She maintained that Florida’s court order has no force
or effect with regard to the INS’s administration of immigration laws and that any
challenge must take place in federal court.
On January 19, 2000, attorneys for the boy’s Miami relatives filed a federal
lawsuit in Miami in an effort to block Elian’s return to Cuba. The lawsuit contended
that the boy’s constitutional rights were violated when petitions for political asylum
filed on his behalf were not considered. On March 21, federal district court judge
Michael Moore dismissed the request to force the INS to grant Elian an asylum
hearing. On April 6, Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, traveled to Washington
with his wife and six-month old son, with the intention of reuniting with his son Elian
and taking him back to Cuba. On April 19, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh
Circuit in Atlanta ordered that Elian must stay in the United States for the duration
of the Miami family’s court appeal.
On April 22, Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the forced removal of Elian
from the home of the Miami relatives by INS agents, after which he was flown to
Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and reunited with his father. Critics of the
boy’s removal argued that the INS used excessive force, while supporters contended
that the government was forced to act by the intransigence of the Miami relatives.
Elian Gonzalez and his father stayed at the secluded Wye River Plantation in
Maryland until May 25, when they (along with other family members, a teacher, and
classmates who joined them in late April) moved to a home in Washington, D.C.
owned by the Youth for Understanding International Exchange.
In the next legal phase of the case, on May 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals in
Atlanta heard oral arguments on whether the INS should be instructed to consider the
asylum request filed for Elian Gonzalez by his Miami relatives. The three-judge panel
ruled on June 1 that the INS acted within the law and its policy rights when it refused
to consider the asylum request. On June 23, the full Appeals court rejected another
appeal by the Miami relatives and refused to reconsider its June 1 ruling. On June 26,
the Miami relatives petitioned the Supreme Court to block Elian’s return to Cuba. On
June 28, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Miami relatives to block Elian’s
return to Cuba and to seek a political asylum hearing for him. The previous
injunction of the Appeals Court for Elian to remain in the United States expired at
In late January 2000, it appeared that Congress would consider legislative action
on the issue. Some Members supported legislation granting U.S. citizenship or legal
residency to the boy (S. 1999, H.R. 3531, H.R. 3532, S. 2314). Those supporting
citizenship argued that the case should have been considered in family court and that
the legislation would ensure this. In contrast, other Members, who believed that
Congress should not intervene in the matter, maintained that the INS should proceed
with its decision to return the boy to his father (H.Con.Res. 240 and S.Con.Res. 79).
Administration officials maintained that the issue should be resolved in federal court,
not in Congress. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the issue on
March 1, 2000, and the Committee planned hearings to investigate the INS’s armed
removal from the home of the Miami relatives.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro demanded the return of the boy in early December 1999,
and Cuba held numerous mass demonstrations until the boy’s return in June 2000.
While the Cuban government organized the mass demonstrations and used the media
to influence the Cuban population, the issue in itself generated an outpouring of
emotion among the Cuban population as well as in south Florida.
Legislative Initiatives and Actions in the 106th Congress
Any legislation passed by the 106th Congress is noted as Public Law (P.L.) atth
the top of each section. The latest action made before the end of the 106 session is
noted on all other legislation.
P.L. 106-113 (H.R. 3194)
Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2000. Enacts by reference H.R. 3421,
the Commerce, Justice and State appropriations bill for FY2000, and H.R. 3427, the
Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2000 and FY2001, as introduced
November 17, 1999. H.R. 3194 signed into law November 29, 1999. H.R. 3421
appropriates $22.095 million for Cuba broadcasting for FY2000. H.R. 3427 includes
the following Cuba provisions: Section 108 (b) (3) authorizes $6,000 for each of
FY2000 and FY2001 for the investigation and dissemination of information on
violations of freedom of expression by Cuba; Section 121 authorizes $22.743 million
for broadcasting to Cuba for each of FY2000 and FY2001; Section 206 requires a
report from the Secretary of State not later than 120 days after enactment of the Act
on the extent of international drug trafficking through Cuba since 1990.
P.L. 106-429 (H.R. 4811)
FY2001 Foreign Operations appropriations bill. On October 28, the conference
report (H.Rept. 106-997) struck H.R. 4811 and enacted by reference H.R. 5526.
Section 507 prohibits direct funding of assistance or reparations to Cuba (and other
countries). Section 523 prohibits indirect assistance or reparations to Cuba unless the
President certifies that withholding such funds is contrary to U.S. national interests.
Initiatives Regarding Compensation for the February 1996
P.L. 106-386 (H.R. 3244)
Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Sections 2002 and
2003 direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay compensatory damages for certain
claims against Cuba (and Iran). As provided for in the bill, President Clinton waived
such payments in the interest of national security when he signed the bill into law on
October 28, 2000.
S. 1796 (Lautenberg)/H.R. 3485 (McCollum)
S. 1796 would amend the enforcement of certain anti-terrorism judgments in
U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (28 USC 1602-11) against
foreign states designated to be state sponsors of terrorism, taking away the current
presidential waiver for national security interests except for the protection of
diplomatic property. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported the bill March 9,
2000, and the measure was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General
Orders. An identical House bill, H.R. 3485 (McCollum), was introduced November
18, 1999. The House Committee on the Judiciary reported the bill July 13, 2000
(H.Rept. 106-733) and the measure was placed on the Union Calendar. A
supplemental report on H.R. 3485 was filed July 18, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-733, Part II).
The House approved H.R. 3485 by voice vote on July 25, 2000. It was received in
the Senate and placed on the Senate Legislative calendar under General Orders July
Initiatives to Strengthen Sanctions on Cuba
H.R. 181 (McCollum)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to House Committee on International
Relations. March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Repeals the authority
of the President to suspend the effective date of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and
Democratic Solidarity Act.
H.R. 3329 (Rothman)
Introduced November 10, 1999; referred to Committee on International
Relations. November 17, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Amends the Cuban
Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act to require, in order to determine that a
democratically elected government in Cuba exists, the government extradite to the
United States convicted felon Joanne Chesimard and all other U.S. fugitives from
H.R. 4118 (Ros-Lehtinen)/S. 2748 (Mack)
Russian-American Trust and Cooperation Act of 2000. Prohibits the
rescheduling or forgiveness of any outstanding bilateral debt owed to the United
States by Russia until the President certifies to Congress that Russia has closed the
intelligence facility at Lourdes. H.R. 4118 introduced Mar. 29, 2000. House
International Relations Committee approved by voice vote May 4, 2000, after it was
amended to include a presidential national interest waiver. Reported by House
International Relations Committee June 12, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-668). House
approved (275-146) July 19, 2000. S. 2748, introduced June 16, 2000 and referred
to the Committee on Foreign Relations, is identical to the House-approved bill.
S. 1796 (Lautenberg)/H.R. 3485 (McCollum)
Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. Modifies the enforcement of certain anti-
terrorism judgments in U.S. courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (28
USC 1602-11) against foreign states designated to be state sponsors of terrorism,
taking away the current presidential waiver for national security interests. The two
bills relate to Cuba because they could affect the payment of a December 1997 $187.6
million U.S. Federal court judgment against Cuba to be paid from Cuba’s frozen
assets in the United States to the families of three victims killed in Cuba’s 1996
shootdown of two U.S. civilian planes. S. 1796 introduced October 26, 1999; Senate
Judiciary Committee reported the bill March 9, 2000, and the measure was placed on
the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. H.R. 3485 introduced
November 18, 1999; House Committee on the Judiciary reported the bill July 13,
2000 (H.Rept. 106-733) and July 18, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-733, Part II) and the
measure was placed on the Union Calendar. The House approved H.R. 3485 by voice
vote on July 25, 2000; received in Senate and placed on Senate Legislative Calendar
under General Orders July 26, 2000.
S. 1829 (Helms)
Introduced October 29, 1999; referred to Committee on Foreign Relations.
Prohibits the payment of debts incurred by the communist government of Cuba.
Initiatives to Ease Sanctions on Cuba
P.L. 106-387 (H.R. 4461/S. 2536)
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related
Agencies Appropriations Act, FY2001. Title IX of the bill, Trade Sanctions Reform
and Export Enhancement, terminates unilateral sanctions on food and medical exports
from economic sanctions imposed for foreign policy purposes. It allows one-year
licenses for exports of these goods to countries classified as state sponsors of
international terrorism, which includes Cuba, but without any U.S. financing (the
President may waive the prohibition of U.S. assistance for commercial exports to Iran,
Libya, North Korea, or Sudan for national security or humanitarian reasons but may
not do so for Cuba). Prohibits travel to Cuba for tourism, restricts non-tourist travel
to Cuba to that expressly authorized in current federal regulations. Signed into law
October 28, 2000.
H.R. 229 (Rangel)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations,
and in addition to Committees on Ways and Means, Commerce, and Government
Reform. March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Lifts the trade embargo
on Cuba and for other purposes.
H.R. 230 (Rangel)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations,
and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means. March 23, 1999 referred to
House subcommittee. Makes an exception to the embargo on trade with Cuba for the
export of food, medicines, medical supplies, medical instruments or medical
H.R. 256 (Serrano)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Repeals the Cuban Democracy Act
of 1992 and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996.
H.R. 257 (Serrano)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Reinstates the authorization of
cash remittances to family members in Cuba under the Cuban Assets Control
H.R. 258 (Serrano)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Allows for news bureau exchanges
between the United States and Cuba.
H.R. 259 (Serrano)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
March 23, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Allows travel and cultural
exchanges between the United States and Cuba.
H.R. 262 (Serrano)
Introduced January 6, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations,
and in addition to the Committee on the Judiciary. March 23, 1999 referred to House
subcommittee. Waives certain prohibitions with respect to nationals of Cuba coming
to the United States to play organized professional baseball.
H.R. 1181 (Paul)
Introduced March 18, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations,
and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Commerce, and Government
Reform. April 7, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. Lifts the trade embargo on
Cuba and for other purposes.
H.R. 1644 (Serrano)/S. 926 (Dodd)
Cuban Food and Medicine Security Act of 1999. H.R. 1644 introduced April 29,
June 15, 1999 referred to House subcommittee. S. 926 introduced April 29, 1999;
referred to Committee on Foreign Relations. Eases restrictions on the sale of food
and medicines to Cuba.
H.R. 4471 (Sanford)
Introduced May 16, 2000; referred to Committee on International Relations.
June 12, 2000 referred to House subcommittee. Allows travel between the United
States and Cuba.
H.R. 4856 (Rangel)/S. 2896 (Baucus)
H.R. 4856 introduced July 13, 2000; referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 2896 introduced July 20, 2000; referred to the Committee on Finance. Identical
bills to normalize trade relations with Cuba.
H.R. 4871 (Kolbe) S. 2900 (Campbell)
FY2001 Treasury appropriations bill. H.R. 4871 reported by House
Appropriations Committee July 18, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-756). House passed (216-202)
July 20, 2000. During floor consideration July 20, the House approved two
amendments that would loosen economic sanctions on Cuba. A Sanford amendment
was approved (232-186) that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used to
administer or enforce the Cuban Assets Control Regulations with respect to any travel
or travel-related transaction. A Moran (KS) amendment was approved (301-116) that
would prohibit any funds in the bill from being used to implement any U.S. sanction
on private commercial sales of agricultural commodities or medicine or medical
supplies to Cuba. A broader Rangel amendment was defeated (174-241) that would
have prohibited funds in the bill from enforcing the economic embargo of Cuba. S.
2900 reported by Senate Appropriations Committee July 20, 2000. (Note: a new
version of the Treasury appropriations bill, H.R. 4985, was introduced July 26, 2000,
which did not include the two House-approved Cuba amendments. On July 27, H.R.
4985 as introduced was appended to the conference report (H.Rept. 106-796) on the
Legislative Branch appropriations bill, H.R. 4516.)
S. 73 (Moynihan)
Introduced January 19, 1999; referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
Makes available funds under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of
1961 to provide Fulbright scholarships for Cuban nationals to undertake graduate
study in the social sciences.
S. 566 (Lugar)
Introduced March 8, 1999; reported by Committee on Agriculture September
13, 1999 (Senate Report 106-157) and placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar
under General Orders. Exempts commercial sales of agricultural commodities,
livestock, and value-added products from unilateral economic sanctions.
S. 1771 (Ashcroft)/H.R. 3140 (Nethercutt)
S. 1771 introduced October 22, 1999; placed on Senate Legislative Calendar
under General Orders October 25, 1999. H.R. 3140 introduced October 25, 1999;
referred to Committee on International Relations, and in addition to Committees on
Rules and on Agriculture. November 16, 1999 referred to House subcommittee.
Requires congressional approval before the imposition of any unilateral agricultural
or medical sanction against a foreign country or foreign entity.
S. 1919 (Dodd)
Introduced November 10, 1999; referred Committee on Foreign Relations.
Permits travel to or from Cuba.
S. 2382 (Helms)
Technical Assistance, Trade Promotion, and Anti-Corruption Act of 2000.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ordered reported Mar. 23, 2000; reported by
Committee April 7, 2000 (S.Rept. 106-257). Referred to Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs April 11, 2000. Title I, Subtitle C, of the bill
would lift restrictions on food and medicine exports, albeit with some conditions on
exports to countries classified as state sponsors of international terrorism, which
includes Cuba. Agricultural and medical exports to these countries would be allowed
pursuant to one-year licenses issued by the U.S. government.
S. 2617 (Baucus)
Introduced May 24, 2000; referred to Committee on Finance. Lifts the trade
embargo on Cuba.
Initiatives Regarding Cuba’s Human Rights Situation
H.Res. 99 (Ros-Lehtinen)
Introduced March 9, 1999. House approved March 23, 1999, by voice vote.
Expresses the sense of the House regarding the human rights situation in Cuba,
including a condemnation of Cuba’s repressive crackdown against the internal
opposition and independent press; a call for the Administration to secure support for
a UNCHR resolution condemning Cuba for its human rights abuses and for the
reinstatement of a UNCHR Special Rapporteur on Cuba; and a call for the
Administration to nominate a special envoy to advocate internationally for the
establishment of the rule of law for the Cuban people.
S.Res. 57 (Graham)
Introduced March 4, 1999. Senate approved (98-0) March 25, 1999. Expresses
the sense of the Senate that the United States should make all efforts to pass a
UNCHR resolution criticizing Cuba’s human rights abuses and securing the
appointment of a Special Rapporteur.
S.Res. 289 (Torricelli)
Introduced April 12, 2000; reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations April 13, 2000, without written report; placed on Senate Legislative
Calendar under General Orders April 13, 2000. Expresses the sense of the Senate
supporting a United National Commission on Human Rights resolution on Cuba.
H.R. 4537 (Diaz-Balart)
Introduced May 24, 2000; referred to Committee on International Relations.
Assists the internal opposition in Cuba.
Initiatives Regarding Drug Trafficking Issues
H.R. 2365 (Rangel)
Introduced June 25, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
Authorizes the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to enter into
negotiations with representatives of Cuba to provide for increased cooperation
between Cuba and the United States on drug interdiction efforts.
H.R. 2422 (Burton)
Introduced July 1, 1999; referred to Committee on International Relations.
Provides for the determination that Cuba is a major drug-transit country for purposes
of Section 490(h) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
H.R. 4811 (Callahan)/S. 2522 (McConnell)
FY2001 Foreign Operations appropriations bill. House approved (239-185)H.R.
substituting the language of S. 2522, which had been approved (95-4) by the Senate
June 22; asked for conference. Senate version of H.R. 4811, section 599F, provides
for up to $1 million to fund the Secretary of Defense to work with Cuba to provide
for greater cooperation, coordination, and other mutual assistance in the interdiction
of illicit drugs being transported over Cuban airspace and waters. Before such
assistance may be provided, the President must determine and certify to Congress that
1) Cuba has appropriate procedures in place to protect against innocent loss of life in
the air and on the ground in connection with interdiction of illegal drugs; and 2) that
there is no evidence of the involvement of the government of Cuba in drug trafficking.
This provision was dropped in conference from final version of bill. On October 28,
the conference report (H.Rept. 106-997) struck H.R. 4811 and enacted by reference
H.R. 5526. Section 507 prohibits direct funding of assistance or reparations to Cuba
(and other countries). Section 523 prohibits indirect assistance or reparations to Cuba
unless the President certifies that withholding such funds is contrary to U.S. national
Initiative to Evaluate U.S. Policy on Cuba
S. 2549 (Warner)
Department of Defense authorization bill FY2001. Reported by Senate
Committee on Armed Services May 12, 2000 (Senate Report 106-292). During floor
consideration on June 20, the Senate tabled, by a vote of 59-41, a Dodd amendment
that would have established a National Bipartisan Commission on Cuba to evaluate
U.S. policy. Senate incorporated this measure in H.R. 4205 as an amendment on July
Initiatives Related to the Elian Gonzalez Case
H.Con.Res. 240 (Rangel)/ S.Con.Res. 79 (Dodd)
H.Con.Res. 240 introduced January 24, 2000; referred to House Committee on
the Judiciary. July 11, 2000 referred to House subcommittee. S.Con.Res. 79
introduced January 26, 2000; referred to Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Both
resolutions express the sense of Congress that Elian Gonzalez should be reunited with
his father in Cuba.
H.R. 3532 (Menendez)
Introduced January 24, 2000; referred to Committee on the Judiciary. July 11,
2000 referred to House subcommittee. Provides for legal residency for Elian
H.Res. 480 (Shadegg)
Introduced April 13, 2000; referred to Committee on the Judiciary. July 11,
2000 referred to House subcommittee. Urges the Attorney General to take no
irrevocable action with respect to Elian Gonzalez until a hearing concerning an
asylum application is held.
S. 1999 (Mack)/H.R. 3531 (McCollum)
S. 1999 introduced January 24, 2000; placed on Senate Legislative Calendar
under General Orders January 25, 2000. H.R. 3531 introduced January 24, 2000;
referred to House Committee on the Judiciary. July 11, 2000 referred to House
subcommittee. Provides that Elian Gonzalez shall be considered a naturalized U.S.
S. 2314 (Smith)
Introduced March 29, 2000; placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under
General Orders March 30, 2000. Provides permanent resident status for Elian
Gonzalez and other family members.
Funding For Radio and TV Marti
P.L. 106-553 (H.R. 4942)
Appropriations for the District of Columbia government and for other purposes.
H.R. 5548, making appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and
State; the Judiciary; and related agencies, was incorporated into the H.R. 4942
conference report (H.Rept. 106-1005). Signed into law December 21, 2000.
Provides $22.095 million for radio and television broadcasting to Cuba.
H.R. 4690 (Rogers)
Department of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related
Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001. House Committee on Appropriations reported
the bill June 19, 2000 (H.Rept. 106-680). House passed (214-195) on June 26, 2000.
Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version of the bill on July 21, 2000,
without written report, and the measure was placed on the Senate Legislative
Calendar under General Orders. House version would provide for Cuba broadcasting
within the larger funding account for international broadcasting operations. However,
in the report to the bill (H.Rept. 106-680), the House Appropriations Committee
recommends $22.806 for Cuba broadcasting. The Senate version of H.R. 4690 would
provide $22.095 million for radio and television broadcasting to Cuba. Senate filed
report (S.Rept. 106-404) September 8, 2000.
For Additional Reading
CRS Electronic Briefing Book on Trade, Cuba Sanctions,
CRS Electronic Briefing Book on Trade, Economic Sanctions and Agricultural
CRS Report RS20450, The Case of Elian Gonzalez: Legal Basics, by Larry M. Eig.
CRS Report RL30386, Cuba-U.S. Relations: Chronology of Key Events Since 1959,
by Mark P. Sullivan.
CRS Report 94-759, Cuba-U.S. Relations: Should the United States Reexamine Its
Policy?, by Mark P. Sullivan.
CRS Report RS20409, Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Legislative Initiatives
in the 106th Congress, by Mark P. Sullivan.
CRS Report RS20468, Cuban Migration Policy and Issues, by Ruth Ellen Wasem.
CRS Report RL30108, Economic Sanctions and U.S. Agricultural Exports, by Remy
CRS Report RL30384, Economic Sanctions: Legislation in the 106th Congress, by
Dianne E. Rennack.
CRS Report 97-949, Economic Sanctions to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Goals:
Discussion and Guide to Current Law, by Dianne E. Rennack and Robert D.
CRS Report RL30570, Elian Gonzalez: Chronology and Issues, by Ruth Ellen
CRS Issue Brief IB10061, Exempting Food and Agriculture Products from U.S.
Economic Sanctions: Current Issues and Proposals, by Remy Jurenas.
CRS Report RS20449, Private Bills for Citizenship or Permanent Residency: A Brief
Overview, by Margaret Mikyung Lee.
CRS Report 94-636, Radio and Television Broadcasting to Cuba: Background and
Issues Through 1994, by Susan B. Epstein and Mark P. Sullivan.