Cuba Votes Shift after Payoffs

By Circles Robinson

Cuba photo by Paul Harris
Cuba photo by Paul Harris

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 16 – Taking campaign contributions from political actions groups is nothing new on Capitol Hill, but Republican congressman Sam Graves of Missouri is in the news this week for letting his position on the US blockade on Cuba be swayed.

According to Public Campaign, a non-profit non-partisan organization, Graves “cast seven votes between 2003 and 2005 to ease the trade embargo and other sanctions on Cuba.”   He then changed his position on future votes after receiving US $8,000 form the US-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee.

In defending the congressman, his spokesperson Jason Klindt, said it was Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen that induced Graves to change his position.

Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen are two of the leading proponents of maintaining a Cold War policy towards Cuba.

Public Campaign stated in its report that 18 representatives who received money from US-Cuba Democracy PAC shifted their positions favoring eased sanctions on Cuba and instead backing the hardliner approach.

An open hearing takes place on Wednesday hosted by the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee on the question of ending the US government travel ban on its citizens visiting Cuba.  Many Cuba watchers believe that if the travel ban came down the nearly half century trade embargo may not follow far behind.

A bill known as HR874 to end the Cuba travel ban now has 180 co-sponsors.  The legislation would need 218 votes to pass the full House.  A similar bill is also sitting in a Senate committee.