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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 25, 2015 8:00am-10:01am EST

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e. i think that has to be taken into account the the other thing that i just wanted to say something which is, again, when you hear the cuban government talk, they say, for example american foreign policy on cuba is based on south florida as if the cuban americans did not earn the right to have a point of view. ..
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what controls the cuba policy about cuba are the actions of the castro dictatorship. it is not cuban-americans, who send a large police contingent to venezuela to beat up dissidents and to train the venezuelan police forces. it is not the cubans who would like to go back to the cold war. the president wants to forget about the cold war. raul castro wants to go back to the cold war. they have been closed back in cuba. raul cast crow has in e -- castro has in cuba's national bank, look up in the newspaper. there has been a lot of fraud with medicare and medicaid. and, at least in one case, and there are many others
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$300 million were stolen from medicaid and medicare. the money is now in cuba's national bank. is that is that a savings account? shouldn't the administration say to mr. castro. give us the money before we talk about anything else? it is your money, the taxpayer's money. the administration is not giving your money back. >> if i could ask mr. duran to follow up on that point. if i could ask mr. duran real quickly to follow up on that point, that which is a central one i think that cuba policy for too long in the united states has been based in eyes of many on cuban exile anger which is obviously very justified but not the basis for sound foreign policy perhaps. i wonder if you could address
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that. >> that has been precisely the point. that is why it is so important what president obama has done. up until now u.s. foreign policy towards cuba did not exist. it was u.s. policy for elections to get electoral votes in new jersey and florida and get political contributions from wealthy cubans in new jersey and in florida. that is what has determine u.s. foreign policy towards cuba until now. now first time there is foreign policy toward cuba. that is the president obama is doing. he is not taking electoral policy or political contributions of the fact of the matter we have to deal with cuba. changeses are coming. like i said there are only two or three walk around, they have more than 75 887, 89 years old.
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you have a new generation taking over. if you take a look at central committee of the communist party in cuba, almost 90% are on under 55 years of age. those people were not in the with fidel castro. those people don't have the same idealogical need to be historical figures like fidel castro. those people want changes. they're going to do their own form of government and the united states should be already trying to make contact talk to them, and make changes because you know what is going to happen, when the castros disappear? miami, florida and havana cuba, are will be china and hong kong. i don't know who will be china or who will be hong kong but that is what is going to happen. tremendous flow of people and business going back and forth. you better start looking forward to that event which is coming sooner, rather than later.
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>> mr. duran a better way to put this, this policy is essentially a new bet replacing a an old bet. in a sense we're betting with this new policy when the cast stress are gone we'll see sort after gorbachev-like presence emerge in cuba, that we will be better situatessed -- situated to take advantage of? >> i don't understand how anybody can think that something that hasn't worked in 55 years will work in the next 55 years. it doesn't work. the policy has not worked because it has nothing to do with u.s. foreign policy it has to do with political policy and political contributions. you can govern u.s. policy towards cuba by just contributing money to two or three chairmans of subcommittee that have to do with latin america and caribbean and cuba. most of those chairman are from states that don't even know where cuba is. it is very easy to form cuba
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policy. >> mr. herrera follow up on that point. >> just to respond to mr. calzon, the year castro shot down brothers to the election airplane was presidential election year. clinton was up for re-election. there was a bill making the rounds in congress. was not seen as having any shot getting passed. was so overreaching. troublesome, constitutionally suspicious suspect extraterritorial provisions. and it just didn't seem like it had much traction. the bill was helms-burton codifies all embargo sanctions puts them in the hands of congress, condition of lifting of all of them not tit-for-tat quid pro quo, lifting of all sanctions on series of conditions that the cuban government must meet and must meet all of them before we can even lift one of these right?
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bill wasn't expected to go anywhere but the cubans shot down brothers to the rescue planes. it was election year. clinton signed the bill. he recognized in his own biography signing that bill was good election year politics in florida but that it it tied his hands to be able to lift the embargo in the future exchange through negotiations for positive changes in the island. so it is very much about south florida politics. now as far as what the bet is look the bet is you can't micromanage a transition in cuba from coral gable right? or from washington. a change in cuba has to come from within. it has to come from the people. it has to be homegrown democracy. they have to want it and the best way that which can help facilitate that is by opening up the flow of contacts resources, capital, information to the cuban people so that they can be in a better position to make
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greater demands from that government. so that is the bet of this policy that we're empowering civil society we're empowering all sectors of the cuban people so that they can make they're in a better position they can put food on the table better provide for, you know their basic needs. and it will be in a better position to make greater demands from the government. >> what about the argue mr. calzon says in so doing we're giving too much away to get to that point? >> we're not giving anything away because we're not making any concessions. the part of the problem with helms-burton it created idea somehow removing sanctions that haven't brought any sort of solution whatsoever, haven't produced their intended outcomes, for steps that we want the cubans to take but they're not inclined to take are somehow tradeable commodities. they're not. we're replacing a bad polly with
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a more promising policy we're doing what is in best interests of united states what we believe will be in the bests interest of the cuban people. we're not giving anything away. value of a failed policy is zero for everybody except for those who have benefited from the status quo that policy creates. so it is not a concession. again it is just a reform of a policy trying to do something that finally achieves objectives. >> mayor caisson, my, when i first visited cuba in 1990. soviet union collapsed special period, worst economy in cuban history, economy was in free fall suffering was table every day i would wake up and walk around and see empty shelves and empty tables and house, et cetera and i kept saying to myself, there is no way they can survive this. but yet somehow they did.
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and, we've come now to a point where venezuela is about to collapse. their newest sponsor.3 and again people are saying there is no way they can survive this but journal list i cannily empirically i have to look back over the past quarter century i have to remind myself they always seem to find a way to survive it. and i think one of the reasons is because unlate -- unilateral embargoeses don't work. one of the reasons we were successful in combating apartheid in south africa, that was multilateral effort that did work. unilateral efforts historically don't. but, back to this moment in history then, because venezuela is so weak right now, i'd like to go back to that point about, your argument that and mr. cal mr. calzon argument this was no the time to do it but that was
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the time we could put the squeeze on cuba. >> cuba survived in point, one it is an island. two it is has got very good security forces. they have been getting life preservers after the end of the soviet union from venezuela, oil. they always seem to find a sugar daddy when things are tough. when things are tough what they do is they liberalize in terms of microenterprises. they did it when i was there. and as soon as money flows in from whatever it is they cut back number of licenses. they only license 157 little occupations like filling cigarette lighters. they have restaurants which are a lot of those, some are actually individuals doing it but a lot of them are relatives the military now have a kay to invest the money they have gotten from corruption in the island in enterprises. but what they tend to do is, in bad times, they open up a little bit. and when the money comes in,
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they, they tighten up again. i think that this was a very difficult time for them. very unlikely venezuela, russia, iran, anybody else will be in a position with oil prices plunging to continue to provide all that money. so one of the reasons that the they were able to survive is that the europeans have invested billions and billions of dollars in the island. they, don't ever pay them back. what they really want from the embargo, not so much american tourists, they want american loans, guaranteed by ex-im bank and others because they have never paid back loans given by other countries. they're not about to pay this back with us. that's what they really want from what is left of the embargo. they want taxpayers on the hook to pay for all the foodstuffs, when they do come in, bay buy the way they can buy all the food, anything organic from the united states. been able to do it 10 years. bought billions of dollars from
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us. newspaper for grandma comes from the united states, telephone poles, medicine, anything they can buy. only thing left from the embargo, bathing suits tourists can't go and don't allow loans to a government that won't pay them back. what happens we have thrown them a lifetime at the time will give them another renewed life for the regime because all that money that comes from american tourists, few that will be find rooms in havana because most of them are full money will go straight to the military, runs cigar, the tobacco rum and all the hotels and all the tourist industries. so why do we keep throwing lifelines? my view is that, when people say it hasn't worked back to what i said originally. nobody's policies worked unfortunately. you name a policy that works and i will support it engagement is the most failed policy because the rest of the world has been doing it for 50 years. >> but mr. duran, what about that argument that raul castro
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would have never agreed to normalization in the first place if he hadn't been so desperate and that desperation is best argument why we shouldn't have pursued engagement right now. we should have continued with what we're doing? >> raul castro has not agreed to normalization. he said in honduras the only way he would normalize relations with cuba if the united states paid compensation for all the damages causing to the billions, the billions of dollars. >> he use ad trillion dollar figure at one point. >> so it is, they don't want normalization. that is the, what people don't get in their mind. the cuban government does not want normal relations with the united states. it goes against their best interests. they want the things that they are, the most terrible thing that is happening in cuba right now, is that everybody wants to leave cuba. i have not heard in the past 10 years any cuban that feels love
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for cuba. they all want to leave. they want to leave to the united states. and that is the most unfortunate thing. you don't see one single person gets off airplane or gets off a boat says i want to go back to cuba because i want to liberate cuba. no, they say i want to come to the united states because i want to send money back to my family in cuba. they're acting not as political refugees, not as people who want to change the government they're acting as immigrant. that is the most terrible thing that has happened in cuba because the cuban people lost love for the island. they want to leave, especially young people. >> mr. calzon, both briefly adjust that point. why should we left the embargo work? >> that has never been my point. my point is the embargo should be used to condition real change in cuba. no one is really defending first of all the embargo we
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keep saying embargo. embargo today is the no the same thing that was in 1960. the idea that nothing has been done in cuba all this time is simply not true. when ambassador cason was in cuba he distributed 30,000 shortwave radios. that was the strategy of radio free europe and radio liberty b those things are important but neither the cuban government nor advocates for the cuban government want to concede that. something was, just came out here out of the blue you probably don't know. on the one hand mr. herrero said it is just south florida votes or whatever. by the way, what mr. duran says about contributions, that is not only cuba. any political science know how the congress works. so if you're concerned about cuba you should be concerned with middle east policy. be concerned about --
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>> your ex-friend found that out -- >> my point is that this is not a cuba specific issue. >> we all know that. >> not everybody, well you don't know that. >> well -- >> let me go back to what i want to say, the cuban policy is not simply the votes and we're in democracy or the contributions but lies. mr. herrero says that the brothers to the rescue, i don't know if you know what happened here. but there were four young men, one who was born in new jersey. another one was served in vietnam, and they were looking for refugees on the florida straits. cuban jets came out and scored those planes in international airspace. one spy had something to do with that. that man was sentenced to two life sentences and that man, who had something to do with the death of americans was exchanged
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by the president. and the mother of those of at least one of those who died told me he was just like seeing my son die one more time. how could it be? now i guess anybody who wants to kill americans can then get some government to blackmail the president? and get the freedom for the murderer? i think we have to take that into account. an american lives are at risk, not simply a game. now when you say that people benefited? just let me say this. you know mr. herrero talks about people who benefited from the old policy well what about the people who want to benefit from the new policy? what about businessmen, some who you work for who want to go to cuba to pay $20 a month in an environment where you don't have a labor union you don't have a right to strike. and they talk that cubans don't know about freedom this i don't know if you haven't heard but
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there have been thousands of political prisoners in cuba. many leaders in cuba who want to stay in cuba and fight for cuba and love cuba. so whenever somebody says to you all cubans it is not true. all kinds of cubans. >> finish up on that point, mr. herrero? >> just a couple points. it was mostly driven by south florida politics. what we've seen in recent elections cuba is no longer the third rail of south florida politics the way it used to be. we saw that with 2012 campaign where obama won close to 50% of the cuban-american vote. we saw this in the most recent campaign where charlie crist even though he lost also won close to 50% of the cuban-american vote. i think about 30,000 more votes alex sink had in 2010 in miami-dade. what i want to go back to, cuba couple other points we mentioned.
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>> very briefly. >> i will try to be very brief. constantly call castro government liars crooks can't be trusted. >> they are. >> fine. but then when ever they make a full-throated demand for lifts embargo do we believe that is what they really want? think about that for a second. second during the special period gdp in cuba dropped 35% over course of four years. 35%. they were able to survive that it is estimated that if they lose venezuelan subsidies the gdp drop would be about 10%. let's say if it gets 20%. still nowhere 35%. this is at a time where they're trading with the rest of the world. so to think this is time when they were just going to sort of bow down to the americans and give in to our demands is not really based on reality. if anything all they would have to do is open up their economy even more. why should we be taking these steps now? look fidel, we know if he is not dead already he is probably
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going to pass away soon. after 10 years of retirement. this is how effective our policy has been. his brother has announced that he is stepping down in 2018. he instituted term limits. we'll see if they honor that. but we know there are at the twilight of this era. we know that there is a transition in place. should we be standing on the sidelines and waiting, and waiting and hoping for the best without trying to play a constructive role? or should we be engaging directly to try to influence that process as much as possible. i think we would be much more influential in the future of cuba playing constructive role in the present than staying on sidelines. >> that role this is the last question i want to's address to the panel before we open up to questions. this is business oriented group and that we make the point, roberta jacobsen top u.s.
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negotiator for the normalization process for the u.s. state department she repeatedly made the point focus of this new policy is empowering, as you pointed out these fledgling entrepreneurs in cuba, that by giving them, more economic power, and, therefore more civil independence in cuba you undermine, perhaps not, you know in the way that solidarity did in in poland you nonetheless undermine communist authority in cuba. that really is the endgame of this new policy, empowering these capitalists in cuba so we can undermine the cost slow regime in that way. mayor cason you believe that is a flawed approach? >> definitely. >> if i could ask all of you to keep your answers very brief on this. >> i dos, at least $100 billion come in last 50 years.
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average income is $20. cuban government knows how to quarantine the money. the military runs the repressive forces. idea micro enterprises, by supporting them they will be able to change the government. the government said we are not changing. they know how to they know how to control that. i think idea of trickle down which empower cuban people no. they will be empowered when the cuban government invites them to participate in dialogue in the future. >> mr. duran. >> some of the most successful cuban businessmen in florida have been traveling to cuba to do possibilities in cuba. they have come back with very interesting opinions. but one in particular carlos rodriguez went together with the catholic church and started doing seminars all over cuba about teaching the cubans how to run small enterprises. they were so successful, that the cuban government took carlos put him in plane sent him back to miami. that is how fearful they are of
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private business. >> mr. calzon. >> well, yeah if you believe that if the believe the cuban government does not want to receive millions of dollars, to support their government, which is what is happening under this policy, then i guess i could sell you the seven mile bridge or something. but the, idea of trading with cuba trading and getting paid is not the same thing. there are lots of people who trade with cuba that don't get paid. finally, i know about the cuban-american businessmen who want to go to cuba i know some much those cuban-american businessmen who put the them across the border in mexico but cubans don't want the cuban workers to get paid 20 or $30 a month. which is a great attraction for these businessmen. they don't have to deal with labor unions. if a worker says something about
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the environment, they're sent to prison. those are the cuban businessmen that want we want cuba not to be like china or vietnam. we want cuba to be like the united states or costa rica. why not? why couldn't the cubans be like anybody else? and the idea that you're missing an opportunity. cuba has something that will never, the u.s. will never miss any opportunities. called 90 miles. the island is not going to move anywhere. the cuban people have known for many years the cuban people known many years the american people have been on their side. now somebody and now somebody is telling the kirk ban people that the american government is on the side of raul castro. that is disaster. >> mr. herrero, if i could ask mr. herrero to weigh in on that. >> two largest protests we've seen in the last two years in cuba were actually protests by
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entrepreneurs who were protesting, that is the truth. largest. >> that is not true. come on. >> frank there was one with 500 people in the street. mostly on thes. i know you don't want to recognize entrepreneurs. if i may, it is my turn. amnesty called for lifting of embargo. so has human rights watch. our policy again goes back to whether we're trying to micromanage a transition from the united states. visit cuba talk to cuba hope by us demanding everything they will do everything we want or try to engage in constructive ways and empower civil society. now civil society is not just a handful of dissidents that agree with particular policy here. it is everybody that is opposed to government. the entire opposition movement. all dissidents. not only that, entrepreneurs academics, artists anybody who is seeking to increase autonomy from the state. they are the folks we should be helping. that is what this policy is
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geared toward. >> i would point out in the end i think what the obama administration is hoping that business people like you will be able to directly invest with or help entrepreneurs in that way as well. some might call that a pipe-dream. i think that is the endgame of policy we should really open it up to questions from you. >> [inaudible] >> okay. >> question is, -- oil prices at history lows right now. venezuela seems to be in real financial difficult. drilling off the cuban coast could cause billions of dollars in damage here in south florida. do you think oil has a big part of this new openness? >> i don't think so because when i was there you had a number of foreign companies came in with the hope they were going
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to find oil. they drilled and didn't find any oil offshore that was commercial. might continue in other areas. those of us sorts of things we were able to discuss when i was there. not like we've never been talking with the cubans. we talked about migration, hurricanes illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, those sorts of things. we can talk about that and we have talked about it but i don't think that has had much to do with it. >> next question? >> current policy has allowed people from who come from cuba, once they set foot here to stay. in more recent years -- recently reported that because people can come here and after a year and a day be allowed to go back we've got a criminal pipeline of people coming from cuba ripping off medicare ripping off medicaid, doing insurance fraud which leads to premiums in
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south florida being through the roof. i know you all don't think embargo should be lifted or relations change but should cuban adjustment act be changed? >> well, more than the cuban adjustment act, i believe that people who break the law should go to jail. i think when cuban government provides refuge for those people and refuses to return the money, gives you pretty good idea who you're dealing with. >> is cuban adjustment act responsible in some way to the phenomenon she is describing? >> there is no mexican adjustment act. there is no salvadorian adjustment act. cubans continue to come unless the united states has serious policy if you break the law we will go after you. also unless the cuban, american government takes a look at operations of the cuban security services here. because, sending $300 million to the cuban bank is not just a
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person here. it is cuban government. it is cuban intelligence service who is doing that. and we should not ignore that. >> mr. duran? >> i think we're very close to see the end of the cuban adjustment act. i think there is strong feeling not only in congress but even politicians here in south florida, even in the mission in miami-dade county, there was some expressions to that effect. as far as medicare fraud there is medicare fraud all over the united states. just not cubans are committing medicare fraud. it is a crime and should be punished. but the cuban adjustment act is something that its time has passed. i think there is very strong sentiment among u.s. in congress and among florida politicians that it is about time to end. for the first time i think in past couple of months we're hearing debate about that even in the miami-dade county commission. >> next question?
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i'm sorry. go ahead. >> hi. with all the demands that raul castro has made on the united states recently i just wondering, has anything been said or done to try to replace the assets that are original cubans gave up when they came to the united states? we have many many people who came here penniless. >> yeah. one of the things that is going to have to be discussed in the whole, long frustrating process of normalization if we ever get there is going to be foreign claims settlement commission. there are about 6700 claims that total 7 or $8 billion for american citizens at the time whose properties were taken. then there is the question of all of the people that left their goods on the island because they were not allowed to leave even with rings on. so yeah, that will be a big
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discussion. and it has been a discussion with a lot of countries. it's a long process. usually get 10 cents on dollar or bond or tax credit or something. that is obviously one of the major issues. what the cubans will say because they said it when i was there once the embargo is gone you owe us between 100 billion and trillion dollars because you have decided not to trade with us. and so, you get rid of embargo to have another excuse, that is this one. we will never do that they want guantanamo back. >> let me add to this. this is an interesting aspect and it will affect all cubans that are here. as far as the cubans properties there were very few cuban properties actually confiscated by law decree. most of the cubans left their property and abandoned their property of the just like in florida, if you don't pay your taxes after seven years you lose your property. and that is what is happening in cuba. that is one of the biggest debates which has never been
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settled in eastern europe left. what happens when you your property and you don't pay taxes on it for seven years? now that is one thing. the other thing is that the cuba has settled all of its foreign asset loans with everybody except the united states. and the reason even though they made an offer to settle the question of the u.s. property interest, is because because they wanted to settle the property interests that they confiscated of american properties at the value, that the american companies reported in cuba for tax purposes. they had already got tax deductions here for 10 times what they reported the value of the taxes in cuba. and that is why they, cuba came to an agreement with every country in the world except the united states because, for instance, a company that lost a farm, a u.s. company that lost a farm sugar farm in cuba got a tax deduction here, $1000 let's
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say. while they reported value of that property in cuba for $100. and that is the difference which has never been settled between the united states because the companies don't want them to be paid because they already tax deducted those properties but much more value than they had reported to cuban government. >> mr. calzon with very quick rebuttal to that point and mr. herrero would weigh in on the cuban adjustment act. >> i'm sorry to say that is the position of the cuban government promotes. the idea that cubans left their property, i guess we could say to the jews, the jews left germany, you left your property. we know how we came. we came with nothing. we came with five dollars in the pocket. the view that the cubans left their country, the cubans were forced out. people were imprisoned. other people were executed. now you're repeating cuban government? >> difference you take property
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from those people who have been living there for 55 years? that is the same argument is that going on in eastern europe. >> you're changing argument. >> gentlemen, we do need to get to other questions. mr. herrero weigh in on cuban adjustment act. we'll go to the next question. >> last touchy subject of the cuban adjustment act. i agree with frank that criminals should be prosecuted and thrown in jail. but not having normalized diplomatic relation, not having banking relation, i mean having travel restrictions makes it hard to go after these people than than otherwise having these relations, right? if we're not, if it is just castro only, if we're not talking to the cubans, if we make it harder for law enforcement and others to go after the people on the island how will we ever get them cuban adjustment act enables this.
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as far as the cue bab adjustment act is concerned, it seems immoral we'll close door to anyone else trying to get here to seek a better life even though the same regime is in power but we'll keep the policy in place that is trying to destroy your economy. i think what we should do, take a look, to revisit our entire legislative framework towards cuba to have a coherent policy towards the island. if there is enough changes to revisit the adjustment act i think there are enough changes to to revisit the embargo. >> question from this side of the room. yes. young lady back there. >> thank you, gentlemen. my name is beverly. i understand that raul castro has a son that serves as a captain in cuban army and trained in russia. is this in fact being, son being
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groomed for the next generation? >> you know nobody really knows. i personally believe that the cuban government wants a succession, not a transition. in fact when i was there they had a series of nine cartoons called -- [speaking foreign language] about me the whole political purpose of these nine cartoons to show cubans will be better off with succession not a transition to democracy because then you would have to pay for medical, all of these sorts of arguments they use. it is possible that he is being groomed but also possible one or more, one of the five heroes one of the spies that has come back could be groomed because they're bringing them out now. they have been, they have gone through prison. they remain firm with the regime. they become heros. so i wouldn't overlook the possibility one of the released political murderers being groomed. we just have to wait and see. but i think it will be a succession. they certainly don't want a
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transition to democracy. >> anyone else have any thoughts on that? >> i think that the changes in cuba are going to be generational. i sincerely the believe the government would love castro's sons or nephews to take over but i don't think that is going to happen. i think central committee. like i said before, you have more than 9 % is under 55 years old. and they have their own program -- 90%. just quickly. >> when you look at cuba you have to remember north korea. cuba is reason raul castro is there because he is a brother of a dictator and they want to stay in power indefinitely. the relationship with north korea is very obvious. just a couple years ago, cuba sent warplanes on a north korean ship that was caught in the panama canal. it is not simply raul castro's demands. it is raul castro's actions that we have to take into account.
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>> yes, sir. you had a question? right there. >> thank you for being here. i'm cuban-american. i came when i was seven years old. i agree that the embargo has not worked. but are we naive enough to think that the cuban government will allow entrepreneur within the island to empower themselves? that is ridiculous. and sir, you said that people left property. i came when i was seven. my father was a doctor. they left everything, not by choice. so it is kind of sad to see that someone fought in the bay of pigs invasion may come and said people left their property there. [applause] >> if i can address the part about, again about the entrepreneurs. the cuban. >> quickly. >> the cubans fidel traveled to china, vietnam, malaysia and japan and came back and told the central committee of the
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communist party that he had seen tremendous economic development there. they were making mistake. if they kept allowing inequalities come from economic growth, that they were going to lose political power. they were going to have demands for elections and internal elections in china. he said he came back said we are not going to allow that. he passed a law at the end penalize other elicit activities they cracked down entrepeneur on thes. they know if they keep income as they have $20 a month. scrounging for food every day. they will not think about higher level things. that is their goal not to allow what we want to do to happen because they don't want to give up political power. they said read our lips. we're not doing it. >> mr. herrero. >> when we always talk about are we so naive to think the cubans are going to all of sudden do the right thing. no one is that naive. no one is making that argument.
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it is, but it is how do you change, how do you change the game so that you're forcing them to actually open up? or to take steps in the right direction, right? so we know that the name of the game for the cubans is control. they're more concerned about staying in power than anything else but to be able to do that in the 21st century they need to open up their economy to some degree because they can no longer depend on one sugar daddy as was mentioned earlier the way they did in previous decades or up until now with venezuela. even now they have been pivoting away from that model to the trading with the rest of the world. they opened up and allowed entrepreneurs to start their own businesses because they can no longer keep them on state payroll. you have 40,000 licensed entrepreneurs operating in cuba. they're making i mean, compared to what folks here make here it is a pittance but for a lot of them this has been life-changing. it has been very empowering.
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i don't know a single entrepreneur is, who is satisfied with their lot and with all the heavy-handed restrictions they have to deal with in cuba. entrepreneurs there are like entrepreneurs here. they ban to grow their businesses and they want to fight the government to get rid of unnecessary regulation so they can expand. that is what entrepreneurs are doing on the island today. so we should be, so is the question is, are they going to let them? they don't have a choice. in that opening we should be doing everything we can to help those entrepreneurs and empower them. >> we have one last question then from over here. this will have to be our last question. this will have to be our last question. >> [inaudible] i'm just, how many business owners here would like to sell products and services to cuba, not get paid? raise your hand? not get paid? is policying with change in cuba. the idea behind the policy
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change is that, somehow we're going to motivate cuba to the government to somehow become more open i heard phrase civil independence of people rising up. how many years will it take? five years to change? take 10? how many years, we don't have to go back and guess at this. all you have to look at is china or vietnam. last time i remember we developed relationships with china 1972. and today if you google china political freedoms 2014 you have reports about ruthlessness about the government for people that stand up against the chinese government. so ultimately the question is, if you think it is going to change -- [inaudible]. i think your generation is one that has to decide whether older generation actually knows what they're talking about and truth conveying or -- to the policy or
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there is not. other than schooling, interest about changing policy what have president obama announced would change cuba so we have freedom and liberty and democracy? because ultimately any policy this country should be driven by a principle, do we believe in freedom and liberty or not? that is the issue. >> how does your generation respond. >> my generation says look plenty of people in your generation and frank's generation agree with us. they realize after 50 years trying the same thing we should try something new because it hasn't worked. >> and it is not new. >> let me finish. let me finish. if i may. as far as the china and vietnam example, it is very convenient one because we have two communist countries with market economies, but those cultures could not be more different than cuban culture, okay? the chinese value the greater harmony far more than individual
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rights, as a culture. there is you will be hard-pressed to find a more individualistic culture than the cuban one, okay? there is reason why the chinese model hasn't been tried and hasn't succeeded anywhere else other than in asia. so thinking that cuba is going to turn into china or vietnam, is knot really based on much. we had dissidents this week testifying in congress maria and both of whom said were not the chinese. we're not vietnam. she said that the cuban government can not survive same sort of opening that china could survive. so again we need to be a little more cognizant about the differences between those countries and these because there are many other transitions from communism to capitalists countries or from totalitarian regimes to democracies that did work and did benefit from greater engagement. as far as when the change is going to come?
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this again is the, poland look at whole eastern bloc. a lot of former soviet countries the, again thinking about that we can put a timetable to this goes back to the whole mind frame of trying to micromanage this from outside as opposed trying to empower the people in the ground. that is what this policy is. you're talking about freedom. this policy is about getting governments out of the way and empowering individuals to become agents of change. i'm sorry if you don't believe that but it is what it is about. >> i will give you last word very briefly. >> the problem is, that the president's policies empowering the cuban government. that is where the money is going. it is not going to the cuban people. [applause] now as far as poland and all those places, the u.s. government has been trying to do by sending radios sending laptops, helping dissidents. i know friends from china, i'm a human rights activist, the idea
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chinese really don't care about freedom i think is unfair to the chinese people. >> i didn't say they don't care about freedom. i take that as culture the greater harmony -- >> we'll have to leave it there. i'm sorry. please join me in thanking this very distinguished and lively panel. [applause] >> now minority leader nancy pelosi and other members of the congressional delegation to cuba speak about their recent visit to the country and changes they see ahead as the u.s. and cuba move to normalize relations. we'll show you as much of this briefing as possible until the senate gavels in live at 9:30. >> thank you for joining us. on sunday we returned from a congressional delegation trip to the greater antilles.
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that is how it was referred to there. we started our journey in cuba and we had a very eventful visit there. we went on to the dominican republic and then to haiti. starting in cuba we had the privilege of meeting with the vice, the first vice president of cuba, miguel diaz canal. appointed to be the first vice president some say, next in line, heir apparent, i have no idea. but very impressive next generation leader in cuba. we met with vice president of the national assembly their legislature, the minister of foreign affairs, bruno rodriguez. we met with the director of u.s. affairs who is engaged in negotiations with secretary jacobsen at this time.
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we met with we went to the latin american school of medicine. we met honored to have meeting with cardinal ortega the cardinal obviously of cuba. and we met with members of civil society. the, our chief of mission or the what they call the special interest section, bless you, jeff dilorentes, arranged for us to have dinners with 12 ambassadors from allied nations who gave us their impression of what the president's action was. we were very, very proud of president obama coming forth and joining with president castro to start a new path of diplomatic relations between the united states and cuba. we found that the people on the street in cuba were very enthusiastic about that.
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everyone we met with was very positive about that that is what we agreed on. we had some other areas of disagreement that related to human rights and mr., our ranking member on the foreign affairs committee addressed that will i'm sure in his remarks here as did mr. mcgovern who is the chairman co-chair of the, human rights commission but it was subject of all of our members addressed. so that was briefly what we did in cuba. i think rather than going into every country right now where we met with the president of the dominican republic president medina, he was very very impressive and we talked about the future of the dominican republic and future in our relationships with them. the, big subject of conversation there was, treatment of haitian refugees in the dominican republic. congresswoman velasquez will speak to us about that among
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other things. we went to haiti. they had a tragedy this week. during one of their carnival parades we extend the sympathy of the american people when we empty with president martelli as well as their prime minister and members of his cabinet. the, we visited two initiatives, one inspired by paul farmer, that addresses the needs of orphans, orphan children in haiti and another that was about a sustainable rural development. of course in all three countries, mr., our ranking member, once chairman, now ranking member on agriculture committee, colin peterson was, took the lead in those discussions. we ended our visit to, to haiti at the cathedral of the assumption, our lady of the assumption. it was a cathedral, five years ago in january was the earthquake, was completely
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devastated. looked bombed out really more than an earthquake. more like a bombing. we prayed for victims of the earthquake. victims of carnival tragedy and people of haiti there. so and from beginning to end we had a very inspiring visit. i was very proud of our delegation in terms of the standing on issues and the the authority they brought to the subjects at hand. we had lively discussions about what we agreed on and what we disagreed on. of course in haiti we said you must have elections. and, well our members will address all of these. so when our delegations eliot engel, ranking member of the foreign affairs committee. you will hear from him. then next congresswoman rosa today lar row. colin peterson, ranking member former chair of agriculture.
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congresswoman anna eshoo, ranking member on the telecommunications technology subcommittee of energy and commerce. lydia velasquez ranking member, small business committee as well as senior member of the financial services committee. all of these are important in terms of the subjects. all of these the committees are important in terms of the subject matter. jim mcgovern as i said co-chaired the human rights commission. members of the rules committee and agriculture committee so he weighed in on that as well. steve israel, member of the leadership chair member of our democratic policy communications committee and member of appropriations defense subcommittee. david sissel lynn any, is sis celine any. immigration and lgbt human rights issues along the way. we were supposed to be joined within last 24 hours of our departure, congresswoman barbara
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lee would not join us because her mother passed away. she was with us in spirit because she helped formulate the trip as well as the issues we were address. and she is very respected in cuba. we told we brought her respects to all that we met and they extended their condolences back to congresswoman barbara lee, a very important figure in u.s.-cuba relations. there is so much more to tell you about it. it was very positive, very exciting, very candid, was productive. it was positive, it was candid. and to tell you more about it i yield to first to, the gentleman who is ranking member on foreign affairs committee mr. engel. you will her from the others in the order which i mentioned them. mr. engel. >> thank you very much madam leader. let me first start by thanking leader pelosi, for leading this important trip to cuba haiti
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and the dominican republic. this was a good trip and the right trip at the right time. president obama's december is 7th -- 17th announcement on cuba told the cuban people we want to move forward. it was clear during our time in cuba there was an outpouring of affection bit average citizen to the united states average people that we met on street. they were all very very positive. i feel very, very strongly congress has an important role to play in u.s. foreign policy and i think it was very, very important for us to engage in the cuban officials directly talk to them directly. i raised the issue as did my colleagues of human rights to the cubans in every meeting that we had. i believe the ball is now in the cuban government's court, to respond by ending the harrassment of political activists and policing political
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prisoners. for our policies to continue to ching it will have give-and-take on both sides. frankly i like to see more changes on the cuban side. i said that in havana. i think again it is important for to us meet with cuban officials to let them hear how we feel. i hope to be at the summit of the americas in panama in april. at the summit i hope there will be a large segment of independent cuban civil society participating. and i said that also everywhere i went. as a former chairman of the western hemisphere subcommittee i was very pleased to return to haiti and dominican republic. i visited haiti five years ago when, after the devastating earthquake and i'm pleased there has been a lot of progress made in rebuilding haiti but much more remains to be done. i asked the gao, government accountability office to prepare a report on speed of u.s. assistance to haiti which i will be released in june. i believe we have to do everything we can to expedite
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assistance to haiti. i brought that message to the u.s. embassy officials in port-au-prince. finally as new yorker always a pleasure to visit the dominican republic and haiti because we have many many constituents that come from both places and i deeply value the strong ties between our countries. i think the trip of all of us collectively helped to deepen those ties certainly in haiti and the dominican republic and in cuba, show the cuban people that the united states cares. we want change in cuba. we're going to take trips like this to demand change in cuba and we're going to move postively forward. thank you. >> i was so honored to be part of this congressional delegation to cuba, to the dominican republic and to haiti. i have had the opportunity of working over 15 years in the house of representatives and on a bipartisan basis with something called the cuban
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working group to address issues that face cuba, united states credit and embargo and many others this delegation was my third voice to it island. i was struck and encouraged as i think all of us were by importance everyone attached to the december 17th announcement. as the leader pointed out we met with the deputy for minute minister and deputy cuba's first vice president, foreign officials, intersection cardinal ortega and head of jewish community and representatives of civil society, bloggers, journalists artists, entrepreneurs. we had the opportunity to sit with the ambassadors from 12 nations to listen to their views about what should be happening in cuba in all of our meetings. all of our meetings. that support of the process the, for an open dialogue and yes, for negotiations.
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people wanted to see this process move forward. and all recognized how critical it is to make sure that president obama and president castro succeed. all believed that the opening would put pressure on the cuban government to make changes. there was a strong sense that this is a historic moment for building a better relationship and that the opportunity should not be missed. i might add no one is looking at this through rose-colored glasses. the issues are difficult. the conversations were frank. whether on human rights, removing cuba from the state sponsor terrorism list, banking finance. the embargo. diplomatic reciprocity. it was important to note there was no mention of preconditions. the focus was not on dwelling on the failed policies of the past from both sides but about the future. moving forward. .
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. . we have worked together with our republican members, and when they were in the house, jerry moran and other in the senate working on this issue. we met regularly and we'll continue to try to do that to foster due process. this is a historic opportunity. we need to foster that kind of
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change that will be critical for the united states and for cuba. >> congresswoman anna eshoo. >> thank you. good afternoon, everyone. thank you madam leader for calling us to gather today and for having the important sense of time and putting together a delegation at this time from the house to cuba and then onto the dominican republic and haiti. i would be very brief on my roll on part of this outstanding delegation. and that is i think if there's one word that israeli operatives and describes each country our discussions, that's the word future. each country, just as we do look forward to the future and
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how to shape it. and so in cuba where broadband is practically nonexistent, i'm not only raised the issue but spoke about how transformative the internet is. that it can transform a society. it transforms commerce education. many of the values that both countries share. and make no mistake about it they are more than interested in it because they don't have it. and they do have an appreciation of what this is done is doing around the world, and certain in the united states of america. we met with students from the latin school of medicine in cuba where they are training, educating, shaping thousands of
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doctors to send across the world. i asked one of the students if there was any way if there was any telemedicine and she said -- she said it's nonexistent. and the cubans have a great deal of pride about their role in medicine, the export of doctors around the world to the african continent, to certainly south america and other places. onto the dominican republic they are making the president is making what they considered consider to be a large investment in education. and i urged him and his team to leverage those dollars that he has placed in the budget with broadband. because you can achieve so much more in terms of the education of their children, of their society, and the benefits will flow from there.
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80 obvious is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet they, too, they look forward to a future that can help lift up -- haiti -- their society, their children and their society and be connected in a very special way to the rest of the world. now, on the heels of president obama and the december 17 announcement he made i think a really rather remarkable he created a remarkable pathway relative to what telecommunications and the internet. and you want to ask questions about that, i'd be happy to answer it. but this is outside of the embargo, and so again there is room, there's room to build. we went there in friendship with her hand extended in friendship understanding that they are we
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have miles to go and places to see. none of us are naïve. but we also i think brought innovative ideas and a can-do spirit. the american spirit to each country and what will benefit the people of their nations. thank you. >> good afternoon, congresswoman, and i to come want to thank our leader nancy pelosi. this is the time for us, the united states of america and for cuba to prove that we are interested in building relationships between the two countries. in 2009 i had the honor of a company president barack obama to the summit of the americas. and there wasn't any head of state that didn't raise the issue of cuba participation in the summit of the americas. i can tell you right now not
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only among latin america, who has always said, felt that the united states, that latin america is a forgotten part of the world when it comes to either democratic administration or republican administration in the white house. not this time. this is too symbolic for the people of latin america and the caribbean, and i am so excited that we are here at this time discussing this announcement of december 17. to be in cuba and to see people's reaction was really exciting. people are welcoming this new beginning in our relationship between cuba and the united states of america. president obama planned to reopen diplomatic ties loosen travel expect and --
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restrictions can export from you is to keep and increased cuban access to communicate and are all important steps. all policies that have failed to destabilize the cuban government would only produce the same results we have seen to date. on the other hand, expanding commerce and supporting the free expression of the cuban people will help put cuba on a path to prosperity and freedom. as ranking democrats on the house small business committee, i am particularly interested in seeing how a normalizing relations can help to present sector. during our visit i met i spent time as well as my colleagues with cuba and entrepreneurs like private restaurant owners. we discussed opportunities for the u.s. to provide technical and other assistance to
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broadening entrepreneurs in cuba, encouraging economic empowerment. we want to see change in cuba. let's provide a path for the people of cuba to empower themselves economically. the number of self-employed in cuba has risen from 156000 at the end of 2010, the nearly half a million today. on the new rules from the state department, many of them may soon be able to export to the united states. smaller u.s. companies also stand to benefit from normalizing relations. the u.s. currently restricts financing for u.s. agricultural exports to cuba, changing this policy will mean greater opportunity for small american agriculture producers. the administration's policy
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changes towards cuba are an important step but meaning must be done more must be done. after our meeting i am optimistic about the future of u.s.-cuba relations. while the administration's policies are welcomed, normalization of relations with the require congressional action. i look forward to working with leader pelosi and all my colleagues who worked for policies that allow the cuban people to live in freedom prosperity and dignity. >> i'm jim mcgovern from massachusetts. i've been to cuba many times over the years but my first this was in 1979 and my purpose, as a student, right. [laughter] but my purpose on this trip was to move forward and support their proposals and principles that the president president announced on december 17, including urging
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quick progress on normalizing diplomatic relations between our two countries. that means having a fully functional embassy in havana and in washington, and allowing u.s. and cuban diplomats to operate like diplomats everywhere else in the world. that would enable our two governments to speak directly and candidly about all issues, including the issue of human rights. and i believe improved relations ultimately will result in improved human rights. now, there are some who do not want to let go of the past who cling to old thinking an old outdated approaches. they are on the wrong side of history on on the wrong side of overwhelming public opinion in both the united states and cuba. the policy of poking each other in the eye of threats of intimidation, of accusations has been a miserable failure i any measure. and my hope is that in the coming days that the obama administration will renew cuba
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from the terrorist list of a list by cuba never belonged on to begin with, and a list that was unnecessarily politicized by adding cuba to that list. i hope that these negotiations it will occur this week in between our two countries will result in some concrete achievements but it is time for more grown up and mature approach. and we need to pursue a policy where we deal with our differences on a slick respectfully and more effectively. and, finally there is able for congress in this. nydia velazquez mentioned it but the embargo itself can't be lifted until congress has a photo so i would call on speaker boehner and senate leader mitch mcconnell to show cuba in the world how a democracy functions and let us have a vote and a debate so that the members of congress can all be on record where they stand on this issue. thank you.
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>> thank you to jim and all my colleagues. i'm steve israel from your. i'm going to make for quick point in the leader close to open up for two and a. first point is during this trip there was lots of talk about how this process can move forward. the thing is that a process can move forward if everybody from both in cuba and the united states is focused on the past. and i think it's going to be critical math we move forward embracing the opportunity of the future, or we use legitimate grievances on both sides that occurred in the past to be one excuse after another to prevent a change in direction. second point, everywhere we went, whether it was first by prison in cuba who many believe will take over in 2018 when raul castro's term ends or the
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figure some civil society that we met with, everywhere we went people called the december 17 agreement historic. everybody used that work, and historic agreement. it's only historic if it leads to change. if he continues to repeat the past that's not history. that's just a repetition of the past. and so true history will be made if that agreement results in some compromise by both cuba and the united states and a way forward. third, ultimately the united states congress and the government of cuba will be judged by who embraces the future and who dwells on the past. and i don't know whether it will be 10 years or 15 years or 20 or 30 years, it ultimately people are going to look back at this moment and figure out who was it
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who tried to focus on what lies ahead, and he was if you try to bog us down in the legitimate grievances of the past. this is a woman of extraordinary potential opportunity. for me as a baseball fan i always tell people i don't care whether you're a democrat or republican, to me it's -- horrible cincinnati reds. [laughter] not to mention the world champion san francisco giants that may or may not have come up several times. no, i look forward to the day when my meds can play the reds in an exhibition game in cuba. it's those small steps and the larger steps that will lead to a change in direction. without a hopeful and without i will turn back to leader pelosi spent i thought he was leading up to david ortiz coming to our reception in the dominican republic. that was pretty exciting for all of us as a --
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[laughter] we have been very generous in san francisco. we just win it every other year, giving others a chance. one of the things we saw in cuba just as an aside in the back to the serious part of it is they have a corner, a baseball corner and have to pay money, hot corner. you want to tell them? >> well, look cuba is a place where free expression is obviously frowned upon where there's suppression and there is repression. but if you're talking baseball there is actually a corner of the park in havana where that expression is not only tolerated but, in fact, very much incentivized. and if you think of the debates on homeland security on the floor of the house got heated this week go to this part in cuba and try to engage in a conversation with members of cuba's society about their baseball teams. >> in any event as has been said, the december announcement
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by president obama's something that we are very proud of, that he had, to use his word the audacity to move our country to a place where we could perhaps open up diplomatic relations with cuba. as has been said it was very well received in cuba. the negotiations are going on between josefina and she's like the one in person, josefina vidal, and our secretary jacobson right now in the days and weeks ahead. so we are hopeful that will produce a result. again, it is a centralized economy and a communist country, and so we have no illusions about how quickly this can happen. but to end we don't have an embargo on any country communist or otherwise. we shouldn't have one of cuba, and they should be taken off the list. as mr. engel has said, we want
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to see some progress in how they treat their people. but opening up diplomatic relations and providing credit congresswoman velazquez can speak not only from her standpoint of small business from the financial services committee about credit being available so that our farmers and whatever in the united states can export to them. and that's not just to create business for our farmers, which is an aim in itself, but also to make cuba more self-sufficient in farming. three quarters to 80% of the food is imported into cuba. we can export to them seat tractors, farm supplies, and know-how in order for them to become self-sufficient. so it is mutually beneficial in many, many respects. i just want to make one more point and that was, we spent a good deal talk about the plight
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of haitian refugees in the dominican republic. and when we were in both countries we sent to both presidents, talk to each other. and that's advice we should take ourselves as we do with cuba, to talk to each other. with that we would be pleased to take any questions you may have. >> thank you very much. you brought to all of the meetings that you had the respect for human rights. and right have you visited the cuban regime repressed a bunch of protesters, like critics of the government and people that are in the opposition. are you disappointed you went to cuba, you talk about human rights, and right when you left the island, the government reacted like this? >> look, we are critical of any move that cracks down on human rights by any government including the cuban government.
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and we raised this issue on many occasions. but the question is, how do we effectively deal with this issue? and i think the choices we have our, you know, pursue a policy continued to pursue a policy that for 50 years has been a measurable failure, or pursue a different policy in which there are increase relations between our countries. and by the way, to increase relations by our peoples, which i think will ultimately push to open the island of. so yeah, we are disciplined when anybody's human rights are denied, but the issue that we want to raise is you know once a sensible policy. and we believe that engagement, we believe that the proposal the president obama put forward is the best way to proceed. and we think that that's the best way to expect results as
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well. >> in haiti there is debate about having elections in june or in october. so my question is are you going to support an election in june or in october, and having two or one election? >> well, we want to have the elections as soon as possible. we spent a good deal of time with president martelly talk about this very issue. those elections are long overdue. they must take place. we were hopeful that in january the senate would vote to advance, the senate in haiti with advance these elections. they didn't get a quorum. there are always those who stand in the way. the president expressed his own, shall we say dissatisfaction, dismay as to the fact that those elections are not in place. but he told us that it would be imminent that it would happen, that the process would move forward for the elections. and we want and the sooner the
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better. without the difference between the summer and the winter or fall was too long a time to wait. and, in fact, impressed upon them that the law await it is written in our foreign operations bill, says that we cannot proceed with the assistance that we want to give you ate unless the our elections. -- gives you haiti. >> in your talks in cuba the the issue of compensation for seized property ever come up? or is it too early to even bring the topic of discussion at? >> no. >> didn't come up. >> did not come up. >> is it just too early and nobody really wants to bring that up before you get assurance from them? >> no, wait other issues at hand. we are trying to get diplomatic relations with that we can talk about all of these issues. we are a couple of steps away from getting down to the particulars that they had plenty of other issues that they wanted to bring up with us and we basically just said, let's see if we can come to terms about
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how we can have a diplomatic relationship, and then we can move onto others. >> i have a question for mr. engel on foreign policy but not on cuba. >> save it for later chad. [laughter] >> you've mentioned some steps, and the next steps that should come, the normalization of relationships that should come from the administrative part of the government. but as congress, you also a couple of things you could do. so my question is what are the next steps? the are a couple bills proposed to end the embargo, to open up the traveling. now that you are in the minority, the democrats are now the minority how can you push for those changes? and should congress do something and then cuba respond? or are you going to do regardless of what cuba does? >> i'm going to yield to my colleagues but just to say
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congresswomancongresswoman velazquez has had a bill to end the embargo for what, 20 years or something? >> twenty-one years ago. that was one of the first piece of the legislation together with congressman charlie rangel. public sentiment is everything. if you look at the polls in america, the majority of the people in this country support the actions taken by president obama. and we cannot continue in this stagnation that hasn't produced any positive results for either side. so it's time to move forward. and i believe that our leaders from both parties should address the issue of lifting the embargo. it would be beneficial from both sides, cuba and the united states. >> you been working on your bipartisan task force. force. >> i think something that is little known and i said this as well in havana when we did the press conference, i've been in
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the congress for 25 years. 15 of those years at least i have worked in a bipartisan way. congressman mcgovern and myself and others have been part of a working group to look at all of the issues that outlined human rights embargo credit. we have been in touch with the administration on these efforts. we've been cognizant of the repression, or the oppression, et cetera, trying to move the ball as well. there is a very strong bipartisan sentiment to engage with cuba and it's our view, and our belief that in fact that if that piece of legislation that we are talking about of lifting the embargo were brought by the majority to the floor of the house of representatives, we could win that vote. this is not a democratic issue or a republican issue. we are interested in the
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broad-based efforts that will allow us to have a dialogue and a communication with cuba. we want to look at the diplomatic relationships with mentioned about embassy here embassy there, on the state sponsored terrorism list. we are of the view that they should come off. we are looking to cuba to make some movements that suggest the forward pass -- forward process. they are aware of that. we are. that's why we're enthusiastic to be able to work together in a bipartisan way to achieve the goals. >> i want to stress again that engagement is really important. if we want to see positive change in cuba, then we need to be engaged. we need to tell them what we think. this is not a matter of visiting them and sweeping differences under the rug or turning a blind eye or looking the other way. no not at all. in fact, it's quite the
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opposite. by our going to cuba in a positive way, we let the cubans know that we have very serious concerns with the things they do, the repression in that country put on by the government. but the question is, what is the best way to end of that repression? is it to just simply ignore them as we done for 50 years? or you try to engage with him and to say to them the ball is in your court. we want to see positive change. now, if there's no change at all i will be very disappointed and then will have to reconsider what we do. but for now i think that this trip was a wonderful way of trying to push things forward for the cuban people, to change their repression that it's been there as part of the government for more than 50 years. we mentioned human rights at every meeting. we talked about things at every meeting. we didn't do anything under the rug. and i think as a result of that the cuban people and the american people are going to be a lot better.
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>> there are just two quick things that i'd like to add to what was just referred to, and that is that in a meeting with cardinal ortega it was an enriching meeting because he obviously had his hand in the communications with the vatican with pope francis with those in our country so that advancement could be made. and he was highly instructive to us. i mean he is the representative of the church, of christ, in cuba. and so the death of the discussion was around the issues that are being raised here, and how important the engagement is. and one quick anecdote. when we were in cuba and we were
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hosted a very nice lunch and that we held a press conference and that the luncheon i sat next to someone that may be younger than just about all of you here. he was a blogger. and so i asked him, you know how many were part of what he was doing. it was millions. and i received an e-mail from him just a little while ago. i gave him my personal e-mail address. i said, let's stay in touch. and he said, since i was born, i was told that you are the enemy. and i met you, and she reminded me of my mother. [laughter] >> i touch is going to tell you that when we went to mass on ash wednesday to get the ashes while the others went to synagogue to get the blessing, and the bishop, the cardinal welcome dose and it was very proud of the role the church has played, the pope francis had played in
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this december announcement. when you're asking the congress and the rest we have to understand the ramifications of our actions, too. for example, it is very will recognize that the private sector, the entrepreneurial spirit the small businesses, the number has increased, what, from 150 to 500 happened in the past four and half years. and that is an important part of breaking the lock of a centralized economy in a communist country. but we have regulations or attitude that say nothing that we do can help small businesses in cuba. now why would we have such a thing -- >> another 10 minutes or so left in this breezy but you can see in its entirety go to the u.s. senate is about to gavel in on this wednesday morning. the hill writing last last night about the senate. majority leader mitch
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mcconnell said he's willing to allow a vote on a clean bill funding the department of homeland security that would prevent a shutdown. the legislation would be stripped of language attacking president obama's 2014 executive actions on immigration. mcconnell said he would be willing to vote on the clean version before considering a separate bill that would prevent the administration from implementing the president's executive actions shielding family members of citizens and permanent legal residence from deportation. now live to the floor of the u.s. senate. y. we acknowledge today, o lord your power, mercy, and grace. we need your power, for the challenges we face require more than human wisdom and strength. we need your mercy, for we transgress your law and fall
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short of your glory. we need your grace for we cannot offer anything to merit your favor or gain your love. empower our senators for today's journey. lord give them confidence to draw near to you that they may find grace to help them in this time of need. in an unstable world where freedom lovers are challenged to live courageously, guide our lawmakers to be models of courage. may they send the right signals to an unstable and dangerous world. we pray in your merciful name.
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amen. the president pro tempore: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. snoo mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i move to proceed to h.r. 240.
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the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 5 h.r. 240 an act making appropriations for the department of homeland security for the fiscal year ending september 30, 2015, and for other purposes. mr. mcconnell: mr. president yesterday president obama took the extreme step of vetoing good american jobs. he sided with partisan extremists and powerful special interests over the middle class. it says a lot about the priorities of this administration but if the white house thinks this is the end of the new congress push for american jobs, it's wrong. i'll soon have more to say about this and what the senate plans to do. but for the moment the senate is focused on overcoming another extreme idea, the democrats' homeland security filibuster to defend executive overreach. many senate democrats led their
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constituents to believe they'd do something about the kind of executive overreach president obama referred to as -- quote -- "unwise and unfair" birthday -- end quote and ignoring the law. we've since heard excuses for the democrats refusal to do so but the time for refusal has passed. democrats will have another chance to prove they are serious. later this week the senate will consider a bill from the senior senator from maine that is about as reasonable as you can get. obviously president obama was right to refer to the kind of overreach he took in november as ignoring the law. and senator collins' sensible bill focuses simply on preventing the most egregious example of conceive overreach from -- of executive overreach from taking effect. it's as simple as that. her bill isn't tied to the funding of d.h.s., so there are
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no excuses left. democrats should join us in voting for this common sense legislation. in the meantime we've offered democrats a chance to prove they are serious about something else and that is funding the department of homeland security. it is something to watch democrats block to vote funding for this department one day then hold a hypocritical press conference the next. democrats need to end their weeks' long filibuster of homeland security funding and end it right now. we continually offered them sensible opportunities to do so. yesterday we offered them yet another. but it will require their cooperation to achieve. the dual-pronged approach i've outlined allowing the senate to stop unwise and unfair overreach on one hand and to fund d.h.s. through the fiscal year on the other is a sensible way forward. but it can't be achieved without
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cross partisan cooperation. the onus continues to be on the democratic party to keep the department of homeland security funded. democrats can fund d.h.s. now not by holding more hypocritical press conferences but by ending their senseless filibuster and cooperation across the aisle. that's what americans expect. that's what democrats can finally work together with us to get done now. the presiding officer: under the previous order, leadership time is reserved. also under the previous order the senate will be in a period of morning business for one hour with senators permitted to speak therein for up to ten minutes each, with the majority controlling the first half and the democrats controlling the final half.
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coats coats -- mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, it is my understanding we're in morning business with permission to speak up to ten minutes? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. coats: mr. president when i re-ran for the senate in 2010, there were two major issues that dominated the campaign and that continued to dominate the discussion and debate here in the senate post election. one was the affordable care act now called obamacare, which was pushed through without any bipartisan support and there was a lot of concern among the american people that what the impact this would have on their lives. that was an issue of intense discussion and debate during that campaign. the second was the plunge into debt at a level americans had
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never seen before in the history of the country. you know, it took nearly 200 years from the beginning of our nation until 1981 to reach the $1 trillion debt mark. that's a lot of governing. that's a lot of growth of america. but we were essentially on a path that -- including expenditures for the war and so forth, that didn't take us deeply into debt relative to our gross domestic product. all of a sudden in 2010 the revelation that we had reached the $10 trillion mark, a tenfold increase in just less than 30 years, would have took 190-plus years to get to the first trillion and it only took 30 years to add ten times that amount. and that was a hot topic of debate during the election and
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in the election the american people came out in significant numbers and basically said get to washington and do something about this. in the background the debt clock was ticking away not only on my web site but in clocks around the country at different times and people were astonished at how fast those numbers were churning. that led them to a pretty intense effort on the part of both parties, on the part of the many organizations -- remember simpson-bowles former chief of staff of president bill clinton along with the former distinguished senator from wyoming, a republican and a democrat together simpson-bowles. the public was getting behind this a $4 trillion over ten-year fix to the problem. it was pretty dramatic, and yet there was a lot momentum for it. it was shot down unfortunately by the president when it was presented. following that we had the gang of six a bipartisan effort.
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the super committee came, the group of 12, 6 democrats 6 republicans, all working diligently to try to put something together. outside organizations fix the debt any number of proposals that were worked on together in a bipartisan way realizing that as the debt was continuing to accumulate is going to have major negative consequences to the future of our children and grandchildren and perhaps even our own generation. we stand here today having gone through all that, the dinner committee which i was part of, eight of us agreeing with the president, no staff no press closed room, months and months and months of negotiation only once again to come up short with even the most minor ultimately -- i mean we sacrificed so many things we thought we needed to do just to get something going. once again shot down in the end
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by a president who wasn't willing to accept even the provisions that he had proposed in his budget proposals or publicly proposed, we took those and said can we at least do these, mr. president? you've announced that this is your initiative. no go. well as a member of the appropriations committee i then tried to work with various agencies all had to come before us to make their requests known for the coming year. i talked to them about i said do you have a plan b in place. what do you mean, plan b? what's plan b about? plan b is mandatory spending is running away with our budget and the available amount of money for your discretionary spending is shrinking every year. so what is your plan b in terms of having less money available whether it's for health care, whether it's for education whether it's for building roads all the discretionary issues that fall under discretionary spending that we're in control of i said we no longer have
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control and that's shrinking and you're going to have to do more with less. and i asked that they provide a plan b before they could get my clearance in terms of supporting their request. they never came forward. no, we have to stay with what the president's budget is and so forth. here we are now $8 trillion more than we were in 2010 and an $18 trillion-plus deficit. everyone knows this is unsustainable. everyone in america knows that we are car reasoning towards -- koreaning towards in -- that we are careening towards insolvency. i said separate what you have to do and fund it. part b is what you'd like to do if you had the money to do it. part c is why are we doing that in the first place? or that program is long past its
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need its existence or it hasn't worked. so let's start there with the part c. let's get rid of excess spending that has no real function going forward or is duplication or is fraud or waste or whatever, which leads me now to this chart. i've kind of gone from, as the president's chief of staff the go-big guy in terms of what we need to do. we can't go there but maybe we can go little. we're all the way down to now what i call waste of the week. let's at least identify those things that c.b.o., government accounting office, congressional budget office, g.a.o., government accounting office, let's identify those things that we know don't work, we know are a waste we know are a duplication. and let's see at least if we can get some start in terms of dealing with this debt.
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senator coburn took the lead on that in the last several sessions of congress. we're going to miss him because no one can do it better than he did in pointing out really embarrassing a lot of us, why are we funding that. i'm not trying to take his place but i did with my staff come up with the idea of at least let's let our colleagues know that those who say we can't cut a penny more, we've cut too much, have a fund to look at that basically says yeah, we can, we can cut more. we can do at least something to address this debt or have money to offset a needed funding program. waste of the week, we're going to inaugurate it today and its debut, i'm going to go back to something i tried to amend when we were addressing the unemployment insurance issue and ultimately was not able to offer the amendment thanks to the
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majority leader's filling the tree and not allowing any amendments, made a big stink about it and can't understand why we couldn't at least take this up. so waste of the week this week is the cost to the taxpayer for those in the safety net receiving social security disability or unemployment insurance, getting checks from both agencies. now, if you can prove to the government agency that you can't work, you can be eligible, if you go through the process for social security disability insurance but if you go to social security disability insurance agency and make -- make your claim you can't then go to the unemployment insurance agency and say i can't work, i can't find work, i'm able to
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work but i need to get that check from you. what has been documented now is the fact that there are very significant number of people that are gaming this issue and are receiving checks from both agencies. i mean, either you can work or you can't work. you're eligible for one safety net program or the other but not both. that totals $5.7 trillion of duplication. and so my amendment that i had offered under the unemployment insurance extension in the last congress was simply to say you can't do both, and we're going to put procedures in place so that you can't -- we can find out who is doing both. now, you would think this would be pretty simple in even the paper age but we're in the digital age and i don't understand why people with social security -- at the social security disability agency, the people administering that, can't simply take a social security
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number and plug it in to unemployment insurance and say do you have this person's name with this social security number are they receiving unemployment insurance or vice versa? it ought to be a push of a button on a computer to be able to do that so it's not all that costly. it makes a great deal of sense. the worst you can do is pick up the phone and say i have john doe here, his social security number is x, he is applying for social security disability, do you have him on the unemployment roll or vice versa? i'm sorry mr. doe but you can't do both and you're gaming the system. that duplication of benefit costs $5.7 billion. that's a pretty good savings. and this is the first of what is going to be a weekly presentation of programs that are no longer needed, that are duplication, that there is fraud or waste involved. i'm going to bring that forward every week, and we're going to try to add all that up. we start here with 5.7.
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i have my thermometer. i have it going up to $100 billion. tom coburn said we could go higher through his waste book and the work he has done. so we have already inked in here -- probably ought to put that in green. if it's red it looks more like a deficit. if it's green it looks like we're heading in the right direction. we'll start filling this thermometer by coming here every week. and people say well, that's small change. look $5.7 billion is not small change $100 billion is not small change. in comparison to our debt, does it solve the problem? absolutely not. is it at least a start? can we at least not come together and in sensible things like this at least get started in the right direction? in the meantime, i still think we're going to be pushed into a situation by crisis when no longer the countenance of the investment world in america in terms of the rate of return is
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acceptable because of the debt that continues to accumulate. so here we are back to 2010, back to where we were. i know it's not talked very much about these days. we have foreign policy issues that we have to engage in and we have domestic issues that we have to engage in, but ticking away on the clock minute after minute second after second, is a continued plunge into deficit spending borrowing money that we don't have in order to pay for things that we need but also paying for things that we don't need. so waste of the week, you will hear me up here every week with a new proposal, and hopefully we'll be filling this chart and hopefully it will at least start us on the process once again of getting through one of the major challenges that we have here in this united states senate and congress and executive branch, and that is dealing with our debt. it's generational theft. it is putting burden on our children and grandchildren and even on workers here today. it's holding down our economy. it's something that is one of
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the major challenges which this congress has not successfully addressed, which this administration has not successfully addressed. it's kicking the can down the road to the extreme. we need not -- we do not need to forget that. we need to emphasize that. this is my small step after many large steps that have failed to try to continue to alert the american people and alert my colleagues that there is money we can save and spend and run a much more efficient effective government. mr. president, with that, i yield the time and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you mr. president. i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you mr. president. over the past week, i was home in wyoming traveling around our state. i had a chance to talk with students about their hopes for the future and talk with many small business owners about their efforts in trying to create jobs. now, the people of wyoming they work hard and they take seriously the western values of family and community. they're committed committed to preserving the west's role in providing natural resources that improve the lives of millions of people all across america. this commitment is shared by the senate western caucus. it's a caucus which i chair in the senate as well as it's shared the same commitment by the western congressional caucus. recently we released a joint
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report titled "principal stewardship of the american west ." "principalled stewardship of the american west." this new report has details about specific things that we should be doing right here in congress specific things that washington should led the people in the west do for themselves. the whole report is available on my web site barrasso i want to talk about principles we talk about in this very report. these principles are based on the idea that the people who live on the land are the best stewards of the land. our main goal is to empower the residents, the workers and the local leaders in the west and local leaders throughout the country to make the decisions that best serve their families and their


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