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US Congress: Protect Cuban Americans’ Right to Visit Family

Proposed Restrictions Ineffective; Would Punish Families

(Washington, DC) – The US Congress should not approve rules to restrict the right of Cuban Americans to visit relatives on the island, Human Rights Watch said today.

The proposed restrictions – which have been proposed as part of larger budget negotiations –would limit the number of visits Cuban Americans could make to the island to one every three years, and cap the remittances they could send to relatives to $1,200 annually.

“The ability of Cuban Americans to visit their families is a fundamental right, not a political bargaining chip,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

In April 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order allowing Cuban Americans unrestricted travel to visit family members on the island, and removed limits on the remittances they could send to relatives there.

The order reversed restricted travel and remittance polices put in place during the George W. Bush administration. A Human Rights Watch report, “Families Torn Apart,” documented the considerable suffering that these Bush-era travel restrictions imposed by the United States – together with restrictions imposed by the Cuban government – caused for Cuban American and Cuban families.    

The report also found that these restrictions infringed upon the internationally recognized right to freedom of movement and violated the international prohibition on the involuntary separation of families.

“The proposed restrictions would double down on an embargo policy that has failed for five decades to curb the Cuban government’s abuses or promote rights,” Vivanco said. “And the ones who will bear the cost are Cuban Americans and Cuban families.”  

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