File #3573: "DI-1319_ref.pdf"


The Honorable Joe Moakley
Statement on U.S. - Cuba Policy
Subcommittee on Trade of the House Ways and Means Committee
May 7, 1998


<(A#Glf L
Chairman Crane Congressma~
members of the
committee thank you for allowing me to testify before your


subcom;nittee today regarding the United States' policy toward
Cuba(' I commend you for holding this hearing to look into our
Cuba policy/ which, frankly/ needs a change.

W, Tll


tr )v~
Mr. Chairman, as you know t I visited Cuba this January during
the historic visit of Pope John Paul


Despite the med'i'a's

decision to turn their coverage to other matter} the Pope's visit
has done a great deal to teach the world about Cub'l highlight its
problemsI introduce us to its many assets, and put a human face
on this most mysterious and troubling


Toda~ many concrete changes have already occurred due to the
Pope's courageous efforts,/Niost visibly1 Cuban's are practicing
religion more freely in their homeland now/ without fear of
oppression or crackdown/


During my visit, it was tremendously moving to stand in
Revolutionary Square/ at the Papal Mass, and to see Catholics
openly expressing their faith for the Pope and their Goa/ Many
of them couldn't believe they were being allowed to act so
openly/This event was a major step forward for Cuba./
I think that it is very important to note that the openness has
been allowed to continue/we recently saw Catholics freely
celebrating Easter Sunday in the main streets of Havan and in


the small churches ofJhe countryside/ Beautiful religious
processions ~ ~ r : g h the Cuban streets without question or
comment from the governmeny"It appear~ at least for nop, that
Castro's strong hand against religion has


And I am very glad that President Clinton has responded to the
openness in Cuba with several positive steps regarding the
United States' policy/I applaud the Clinton administration for
its moves to allow direct flights for humanitarian ai~ to allow
family remittances, and to work to ease the licencing process for
medicines/As I've said many times/we aren't responsible for
the suffering of the Cuban people,- Cuba is/Bu~ we also
, /
should make it a policy to do what we can
help those in neey
Right now
olicy isn't doing that.




The American Association for World Health's five-year study on
the Cuban health care systen,highlighted the desperate plight of
the Cuban people. According to their expert medical opinio~
large numbers of ordinary Cuban citizens. " The report went on
to identify malnutrition/ poor water qualitf lack of mediciney
and equipmen and the lack of medical informatioi,as the major


causes of the Cuban health care crisis·


The needs in Cuba are tremendous/ Ne'/ breakthrough
medicines that combat cancer an/AIDS are not availabl~
doctors re-use disposable gloves until they brea~ pacemakers for
heart patients are virtually impossible to fin'!, extreme shortages
in kidney dialysis machines keep patients from receiving
treatments,and children's cancer wards go without nausea
suppressants for children receiving chemotherapy/The suffering
goes on and on.


7 ._..


I believe the steps that President Clinton has taken will begin to
lessen some of that suffering/Now, we need to do more
because while the Administration's moves are positiv<t donations
will never be able to affect as many people as direct sales of
food and medicines
onations while very important, do not
always include those items that are most needecylon1y through
the direct sale of medicines can doctors obtain the exact items
they need for proper care/That is why I am a proud co-sponsor
of H.R. 1951/ the Cuban Humanitarian Trade Ac_; legislation
that will remove U.S. trade restrictions on the sale of food and
medicine to


I want to say a word about the suffering I just mentionec(While
I was in Cuba recentl)J
visited a pediatric hospita just
outside of downtown Havana/4 walked along the war~ and
stopped in to visit with the sick children and their parents'lThis
was real Ii'.)!- there were no politics her~ no state sym(ol~ no
speeches-/! listened carefully to the young mother~ describing
their children's unwarranted suffering and pain.




Many of the children that I visited that day had fairly common
diseases and disorders that are easily curable using modern
techniques and medicines/_In the United States we have the best
medicine the best medical t;a·mn and the most innovative
medical devices in the world But the sad truth is that most of



these items are not available to these tiny Cuban childre!,' due to
the embargo.

,_ that is widely treated using the
little boy had a heart disorder

I vividly recall one child that I will never for-et / This particular
insertion of a plastic shunVBu; that simpleivice is made in
Americ'l and therefore not available in Cuba So this h5Pless_
child spent 86 days in intensive care/- and early died/During
that terrible ordea the little boy lost a lung and will have

continued health problems for years to comy'His young mother

told me she didn't understand why they couldn't get that piece of
plastic/ She looked to me for answer7 Mr. Chainna~-- I had



I know opponents will say there is no embargo on medicine/
They will say anything can be obtained with a licence/Bit the
fact is/that's just not happening/The process is exlemely slow
and difficulland most U.S. col.parries don't even try/No'
the facts are often disputed heri' but even the most {enerous
estimates say that we have only issued 27 licenses fo7e
commercial sale of medicines over the last six year For a
country with the medical needs of Cub) that's not a lot of
There are many reasons why the licencing process doesn't wort./
For one/ U.S. companies don't want to go through the difficult
steps and the paperwork/And many U.S. corporations don't
even know they can sell to Cuba through a licence.
Opponents will also say that Cuba can go to any other country in
the world to buy medicines./That is tru~ but the problem is ~ the United States is the lealer in medicfne) medical supplit?)
medical tejniques, and everything else that has the prefix medbefore iV:'he fact is that Cuba needs our innovative product~
and idea


because, quite simpll we're the best and we've got

the corner on the market.


Furthermor7 we passed a law in 1992 that prevents subsidiaries
abroad from doing business in Cuba/As the economy has gotten
more and more global' U.S. pharmaceutical and medical supply
companil_8. have increased their share of ownership around the
world, ~oday/ U.S. owned subsidiaries dominate the market
S~, when Cuba looks abroad for medicine} they often
run i o more roadblocks.
Mr. Chairman/ the Pope's visit has created an atmosphere of
change in Cuba that hasn't been seen since the revolution And,
I don't think things will go back to the ways of the pasV1t's too
hard to "put the genie back in the bottle;, as they say So we
need to move forward/I think it is time we lift the embargo on
food and medicine~and allow the Cuban people access to the
best medical and food supplies we have to offer.
We need to engage Cuba so we can effect change now and in
the future when the political status quo is gonVOu~olationism
of the last 38 years has done nothing to change Cuba/ in fact I
believe it is one reason Castro has been able to stay in power for
so long./Quite simpl) our embargo policy has given him an
enemy (o point to.


;o e~Jif r

A- S!Jftf1t....ef>,lllt1lt...
FOi<- ttu- ~


Now, an historic opportunity is upon us We need to be part of
Cuba's changing political and social si ation by engaging in a
dialogue of thoughts an ideas We need to be ready for the day
when Castro is gone. After Castr~ there is a giant vacuum of
leadership in Cuba.
o one really knows for sure who will fill
ontinuing our current policy leaves us without
that vacuum.
any influence/ We will have no say in the future political


leadership of our neighboring island/But, by engaging, Cuba

now1 the United States will have a hand in the futu~re nd can
work to bring democratic ideals to the Cuban people Lifting
restrictions on food and medicine is a good way to egin that
So, again Mr. Chairma~ I commend you and the Subcommittee
for holding this heariniy and allowing me to testify today ./we
must remember, Mr. Chairmai, that children do not undfrstand


mbargoes/But children do feel suffering/- they do
feel pain. '11 say again that the Cuban people's suffering is not
our faul but I think the United States has a responsibility no! to


make thmgs worse/we have :
responsibility all over the
globe/'ve met the Cuban peopl] sat down in their homes,with
them/ and listene to their concerns ; I know they deserve at
least that much


Mr. Chairmai, our Cuba policy is

3J years

old and it just hasn't

worke0n fa<;7it's a complete failur7"'If our policy was a
fortune 500 company/ it would have been bankrupt years


No one in this room can ho.7st1y say we're hurting Castro4'he's certainly not starving/1 believe it's time for a changvl
look forward to working with you and our colleagues in the
Congress to bring about change in Cub) and to create a policy
that finally makes a difference in Cuba where it matter~- with
the people.
Thank You.