Thursday, December 18, 2014

Amash Vs. Huizenga on Cuba

Rep. Amash                                                              Rep. Huizenga

 By Brandon Hall
(Email him at 

Congressmen Justin Amash and Bill Huizenga have different takes on the President's recent announcement that he believes it is time to normalize relations with Cuba.

Amash said in a statement on Facebook:

 "The power of free expression, free movement, and free markets is much more likely to advance Cuba toward freedom than the failed policy of isolation. An isolationist foreign policy that blocks trade and restricts travel between our country and Cuba hasn't made our neighbor free or democratic. And the United States' half-century embargo hasn't brought down the Castro regime.

I support the announced shift from isolationism to a more pragmatic engagement with Cuba. The Cuban people have the right to govern themselves and deserve to live in a country that is ruled by law, not the whim of a dictator. We can more readily help Cubans establish liberty through policies that open dialogue, travel, and trade."

In a radio interview with Holland based WHTC, Huizenga said:

"Normalizing relations requires Cuba to do some things that they're not doing. They are not establishing Democratic process. They're not recognizing dissenters. They're not doing the things I believe need to happen for us to warrant (normalization)...My Dad and any churches and individuals here locally helped Cuban dissidents come here in the 60's and I think those are important voices to listen to."

He also said "I'm not convinced that normalization will help liberalize Cuba." He then compared the Cuban situation to North Korea and Iran, saying that normalization wouldn't help either of those situations.

Ottawa County Dems Chair Doug Zylstra said in a statement he wishes Huizenga would reconsider.

"In a recent interview, Representative Huizenga indicated that he wishes to continue with the current embargo on Cuba. This is the same embargo that hasn't worked in its original goal of ousting the communist government, and at the same time has constrained our abilities to promote positive change both in Cuba specifically and Latin America generally.

Normalizing relations will bring a wide set of benefits to both the Cuban people and to the American people. I urge him to reconsider and complete the legislative process of fully dismantling this failed policy."

The Washington Post described the changes in Cuba policy in a piece Wednesday.

"In addition to reopening an embassy in Havana, the administration plans to significantly ease trade and financial restrictions, as well as limits on travel by Americans to Cuba, by using its regulatory and enforcement powers to evade limits imposed by a congressionally mandated embargo.
Americans will be permitted to send more money to Cuban nationals, use their debit and credit cards in Cuba, and bring $100 worth of Cuban cigars into this country. U.S. exports to Cuba will be made easier, and additional items will be authorized. U.S. banks will be allowed to open correspondent relations with banks in Cuba.

The administration also said it would launch a review of Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism, a designation it feels Havana may not deserve alongside Sudan, Syria and Iran, and would work with Congress to ultimately lift the trade embargo and other sanctions.
While Obama said the Cubans had also agreed to expand Internet access and other freedoms, and to release 53 political detainees, Castro did not mention any of those measures in his televised speech. Coverage of the momentous announcement in Cuba’s Communist Party media was limited to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the release of three Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
Email him at
Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson

1 comment:

  1. When Cuba agrees to reimburse American entities for property stolen by the Castro Regime, it will be time to DISCUSS normalization.