tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 21, 2015 6:00am-8:01am EDT
cuba is in power. the president shall upon determining the democratic elected government of cuba in power submit that to determination to the appropriate congressional committees. let me first ask. as the president made a determination that a democratically elected government in cuba is now in our? >> the president has not taken actions under those aspects of the libertat act. so he is not invoked that part working out the libertat act to take the actions he's taken. >> he simply doesn't feel like he has to refer to the libertat act? what is he doing it is not basically lifting the embargo? what is this? >> i think the president has made very good that congress is the only body that can lift the embargo, and as he said in his state of the union message he called on congress to do so. therefore, these make clear that
you have the authority to lift the embargo. >> what's he doing? it seems like a lifting of embargo to me. >> what he is taken our executive actions and regular changes within the executive's purview with the embargo still in place. as you know there were four years exceptions and continue to be exceptions to the embargo in agriculture. is changes make their exceptions on telecommunications and to support the private sector in cuba. those are the kinds of exceptions to the embargo that are within the executive branch's purview. >> okay. do you basically agree with the primary purpose of the act which i read earlier, basically to ensure the freedom of prosperity of the cuban people and enhance the national security of america? do you think that's the two primary policy goals of this country towards cuba? >> certainly the president has made clear that what we want is
a democratic prosperous and stable people which i think is similar to what's in that act. the question of her own national security should always be paramount in our decision-making decision-making. >> ambassador shannon, struck by your comments about tiger attitude that democracy and freedom is flourishing in central america. we have some good examples of columbia to go to the i missing a whole lot of democracy flourishing in venezuela or cuba from a standpoint. can you help me out in terms of what your talking about? >> there's no doubt democracy is not flourishing in cuba. is part of the presence effort to pursue a new approach to see what we can do to help the cuban people begin their own political opening. but as a look back over the last several decades what's important remember and acknowledge about our chemistry is this was a region that was largely ruled by authoritarian governments, some military some
not but which has found through its commitment to human rights and its ability to organize and use interconnecting solutions like the inter-american human rights court and the inter-american court of human rights to develop civil rights or human rights issues and use that to build democracy. whether it's chilly in the 1980s whether it's a work in central america to face down insurgencies and the military government to allow elections to take place for civilian government to take over, whether it's what we've done in colombia the transition in argentina uruguay and brazil. i think he and mr. has distinguished for the past three decades -- >> okay, i'm running out of time. seen as the primary purpose is to provide national security of america, is anybody going to make the case that the castro regime has been helpful in promoting democracy and freedom
in this hemisphere? is it not trigger so supporting farc in colombia, supporting the repressive regime in venezuela? isn't that true? >> what the cuban government has done and what we asserted in a report recently congress is to support for the farc that we've seen recently is support for the peace process that's going on in cuba between the farc and the colombian government. obviously, that was not always the case in the past that at this time we think they're playing a constructive role in the peace process. in venezuela it's a different issue but i think in many areas we did not see cuba in national security terms. we believe engagement with cuba through diplomatic relations will be far better for our interests than the previous policy of isolation. >> the other purpose, to assist the cuban people to regain their freedom and prosperity, as
senator rubio is pointing out u.s. is basically the only country engaged in embargo. yuba has been able to trade freely with the rest of the world. i'm not seeing the flourishing or prosperity as result of that engagement. i mean, how would the world do we think being able to trade with the u.s. is going to improve the prosperity under the repressive regime of the castro's? >> you're certainly right there economic system has not made them a magnet for the trade and investment from other countries that they are able to have. in other words at the countries that have invested and then trade with the more than they are, but cuba has to change to make that possible but they have been able to promote a narrative of the u.s. is embargo and isolation from them as the reason for the economic problems. we've now taken that excuse the way and so it will be obvious that the problems are the lack of movement in their system. >> thank you, madam chair good
to. >> mr. chairman, today is the 113th anniversary of cuban independence day. it is a bittersweet date given the cuban people's languishing for more than 55 years under a dictatorship. let me be frank, i have deep concerns that the more these talks progress, the more the administration continues to entertain unilateral concessions without a return getting agreement on fundamental issues that are in our national interests and those of the cuban people. so i know you said in response to the question these are not things to be negotiated things we decided unilaterally i really can't believe that. the cubans, nasa said you want a relationship with you got to return the three convicted spies, three convicted spies of
the united states including one who was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder of three united states citizens in international airspace. check. we gave them the three spies the ui relationship? take us off the list of state-sponsored affair. check. we give them that the ui relationship or change the democracy programs that we do that the world because we don't like those programs because they are in particular to taliban regime. i wake up to an article that says from reuters you is signals that could change how democracy programs in cuba that have been objects to. cuba has long objected. check. bring us to the summit of the americas can't even the cuba violates the democratic charter of the oas and when good people say doesn't matter who's
invited to the table. that's what is talked about but guess what? the democratic charter you can violate the democratic charter is to be part of the club so wonderfully and violated if you think you're compelled to do so? pretty amazing. you know, i have not seen any movement at all towards greater freedom but as a matter fact i would like to commend the committee sent you some insight of cuba a cuba blogger in the "daily beast" she was 12 most absurd prohibitions that tourists will never see. i would just read a couple, mr. chairman. cubans cannot access the internet from their homes or on their cell phones. not because, in fact even technology infrastructures not the case. they can't access because the government won't listen because information is a problem. said that what you perfect grid infrastructure but for them to control it. you can't live in havana without
a permit. the blogger goes onto say, can someone from l.a. for the washington, d.c.? the answer is obviously yes, but you can't live in havana without a permit from the government. no public demonstrations are allowed to imagine that. no political parties are allowed except the cuban communist party. no investment immediate and large enterprises, no inviting a foreigner to spend a night without a permit in your own home. and among many others, something that says you can't bring 25 artificial fingernails in violation of the law. i ask unanimous consent the full article to include in the record. >> without objection spirit so here we are human rights abuses continued unabated with more than 1600 cases of arbitrary political arrests this year alone. only five months into the year. so president obama may have outstretched his hand at the
castro'sis still have their this real tight. you and the secretary came before this committee heralded there was a downturn. guess what? we are skyrocketing back up in human rights violations and political dissidents being arrested including the arrest of people you negotiated to ultimate be released. several of them have been rearrested. despite the desire to move in a different direction i see we get nothing in return. we still have you have taken cuba off the terrorism list. joanne on the fbi's 10 most wanted terrorist list for murdering a new jersey stored trooper. charles no one african in a statestate trooper and hijack a u.s. civilian plane, they are both living in cuba protected by the regime to the regime says we'll talk to you we'll talk to you even though your counterpart has
already said she got political asylum and she's not going anywhere but we will talk to you about it. we will talk to you about it. so they will talk ad infinitum. i hope my colleagues who are so passionate them and i listen to them about democracy and human rights in many parts of the world in burma come in the nam, a whole host of places in the world are almost silent we comes to cuba. semi-democracy and human rights is not the supporters of the places in the world. let me ask you, madam secretary, to your knowledge were you or any member of the state department told not to push for sanctions on cuba in violation of sending missiles to north korea in violation of u.n. security council resolutions? the type of missiles that in fact were in hull of a cargo ship full of sugar being hidden
where the signals were taken off to try to hide the? we are told not to push or any -- to your knowledge? >> not that i know of spirit that the u.n. sanctioned cuba? >> they did not. >> let me ask you this. in the list of state sponsors of terrorism you got a letter that says that in fact, cuba has not, never did offer the castro regime assertions through the government of cuba has never come this is in their letter the state department quoted it, has never supported any act of international terrorism and that the cuban territory has never been used to organize finance or execute terrorist accidents in the country including the united states. do you intend for members of the committee to believe that the castro regime never supported any act of international terrorism over the last half-century? >> senator, i think that what's crucial is that speed that's what crucial to answer my question.
t. believe that the cuban government has never sponsored any act of terrorism over the last half-century? >> i can't say that i would urge all to believe that it has never occurred. no, but what speed i hope you don't mean to suggest that the historical examples of providing support to former armed insurgents in the 1980s including the in 19 in columbia the ssl in nicaragua, or that affect the cuban military didn't shoot unarmed civilian planes carrying american citizens over international waters for which they are pending indictment from the united states jurisdiction against several individuals in cuba which i'm wondering are you pursuing that in your negotiations with cuba about advancing those indictments of? >> that is why we're going to have the law enforcement conversation for the justice department to be able to pursue -- >> you realize some of those
indictments are against? >> yes, sir. >> do you think you will engage in a conversation with him respond to justice? i don't think so. let me ask you one last question if i may drink mr. chairman, if i can have the chairs indulgent. you all came here and said that, oh there's a reduction of political arrest in january. as a sign that the administration cuba policy was achieving results. not surprisingly these numbers climbed dramatically in the ensuing months with more than 450 political arrest in february, more than 600 in march, more than 1600 political arrests in total during the first four months of 2015. 1600 in first four months of 2015. now as i'm sure you know this past sunday more than 100 activists in cuba were violently arrested including 60 members
following their attendance at a church service. site gives she was right when she said the cuban government will only take advantage to strengthen its repressive machinery because all these women were doing is marching in white with a coagula to church. and the result of that is to be beaten and thrown into prison. that is not success. so i don't get it. so the final thing i'll say mr. chairman, i have a lot of other questions but in deference to my colleagues and i appreciate it as this is one-sided. i don't know what we've got in return. we've gotten nothing in return but the cubans have gotten plenty and return. if that's our way of negotiating then we have a real problem on our hands. the message we sent in the western hemisphere, in venezuela where we have come by to see our partners engaging with is
because we changed our cuba policy. this opens the door towards promotion democracy. witnessing democracy in venezuela. i'm not sure about happening in other places in hemisphere for which we have challenges as well as i think that is a hollow promise they somewhat we seek and i appreciate the chairs courtesy been some interest in the subject. >> thank you. senator perdue. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you both for being here today. this is an important topic. in my career i've watched encinitas strategy of engagement interest parts of the world, china, vietnam, dominican republic, haiti, to mention a few. it's worked in sum, not another's. i echo what senator menendez just said about venezuela that would by $32 billion of oil a year. i have three concerns concerns about what we are talking today with regard to our changing the relationship with cuba. want is their continued support of terrorism. number two is the human rights
record that continues today. and three is directed against arms smuggling. i have a very short question. in 2003 cuba about iran's operate on their soil. we know that the attack on u.s. telecommunications. cuba has reported to have supplied intelligence services to venezuela recently to cuba provide assistance in safe haven to terrorists including members of farc. they continue to harbor fugitives one u.s. including a fugitive to date listed on the fbi's most wanted terrorists list the cuba has helped islamic extremists including members of hezbollah slip into north america and notice. a cuban state-owned enterprises provided venezuela with advanced technology to provide illicit documentation to 173 individuals from the middle east between '08 and 12. that's ancient history according to the administration that let's talk about recent history.
just as president obama started the secret negotiations with the castro regime june 2013 there's been a report of 15,000 political arrests are 2500 since the president's speech on u.s. cuban relations in the summer. to make it even worse between federal and march a picture of cuba is increase the number of politically motivated arrests by 70%. troubling as that is find even more troubled by cuba's continued nefarious activities with regard to arms smuggling. we know about the order shipment of 240 tons of military equipment confiscated on the way to north korea, but we are talking of february 28 of this year 2015. a chinese flag vessel was intercepted in cartagena over whether tons of explosives, 2.6. detonators and over 3000 artillery shells. this was bought from a chinese
arms manufacturer on behalf of techno import which is a shadow company for the cuban military. the question is what this type of activity, what assurances can you give us mr. ambassador, i'd like you to take a shot at this first, with this continuing and current activity why should we be optimistic that just by opening up economic relations with these people, this regime that this type of activity will change? >> thank you very much senator. and i can assure that just by opening up economic activity we would not necessarily change behavior. it's a longer process, but in regard to the larger diplomatic environment and assistant secretary jacobson can address more specific issues come in regard to a larger diplomatic environment the fact that the ships were stop with significant effect of their respective a significant effect of these
items were found must admit that shows an ability to cooperate with our partners in the region to control and monitor this kind of activity. and this will deepened with time as people understand that the broader purpose of our diplomacy is not silly to normalize -- simply -- relations with cuba and build a relationship with cuba that would change how we try to promote out interest in democratic values. but that is also about how we enhance the integration and cooperation inside the hemisphere, and partners of ours who have been very of working with is a wretched issues issues because they didn't want to get caught in the vortex of the powerful and the historic animosity are going to be more open to engaging with us on this kind of activity. so i believe we're going to be able to do more in the area of security. we are going to be able to do more in the area of nonproliferation, more in the area fighting drugs because of
this. >> i have a follow up on that. why wouldn't we make that a prerequisite, that better behavior would lead to open economic relations? or madam secretary either one. >> i think, senator, if i could we all want the same into. it's a question of how we basically motivate that behavior or how effective we can help support change. the president believes firmly that the efforts we made in the past which were in fact to say you must change first and then we will engage just didn't work to make the changes inside cuba. >> can ask a question about? >> certainly. >> with evidence cause and effect of several other countries, written candidate, others have an open trading relations with cuba. that indication as to change behavior. what makes us believe that today
our open up of economic relations with cuba was actually have that effect? >> i mean, i think that's a fair point and we don't know yet what the effect of this policy will be on the cuban government. we do see already the effects the beginning of the effects on the cuban people while we decry the detentions of the activists. we know there are cubans who are benefiting from this new policy in their into thin it businesses and in their belief that they're going to prosper and have a better life because of engagement with the u.s. the other thing i would say is either engaged with my eu counterpart and with my counterpart in spain in working with them so that we can now work together. and when we work together not just with the region counterpart but with our european counterparts, that is more powerful and they think that could have a more galvanizing effect, but it will be slow. i don't deny that.
>> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator kaine? >> thank you mr. chairman thank you to the witnesses. my colleagues have asked great questions about the particulars of this cuba discussion about what to talk about the region. the americas and the caribbean are 35 nations i guess by the general count, nearly 1 billion people. if i do my back of the envelope math, 35 nations means about 600 bilateral relationships between the nations in the region. somebody bilateral relationships are strong, and friendly. some are weak. and warm cold and they change over time. is there any other bilateral relationship in the americas that does not include normal domestic relationships other than a trend in cuba but i'm not i would've won but you guys are the experts. >> no, sir. >> so this is the only one of the 600 bilateral relationship
in the americas that does not involve a normal diplomatic relationship. i'm not aware of any war between nations in the americas, our two continents right now between nations. am i right about that? >> you are correct. >> and the only civil war the our security challenges of many kinds because we are 35 nations and a billion people, but the only civil war right now in the region is the war between the colombia government and farc and another smaller terrorist organization that is currently subject to a negotiation that cuba is hosting with you at this point april accompanying the colombia government, direct? >> right, that's correct and we are not accompanying but have a special envoy now. it's also the longest running civil conflict in the hemisphere. >> i don't want to get ahead of myself but if that negotiation works out positively and we are then, we have the ability to be
two continents, all americans, without war without civil war and without war between nations, that would be pretty unusual in history of these two continents wouldn't it? >> it would be an historic achievement. >> it would be pretty unusual given other continents wars were civil wars in asia and africa. sadly were civil wars in europe. you talk in your opening testimony about increasing trade in the americas, the majority of the american trade agreements are with nations in the americas. there's more trade between the nations in the americas. there has been a move in the last 30 years from governments that event autocratic or military towards democracy come again not that the are not challenges or problem children. we are human beings. after all, there will be challenges to the vhs potential entire professional careers working in the western hemisphere. is what you do for your professional life's too. tell us what it means for the
united states of america to potentially be the anchor and the leading nation in two continents with no war no civil war, complete diplomatic relations and an ever increasing trade in injured independence. talk about what that means to the united states of america. >> i think those are incredibly important points. and for me one of the things that i see in this hemisphere is not only the hemisphere's importance to the united states and to our people daily whether it's trade, familial ties, their growing influence in culture that we share and the way in which the values in this hemisphere are the same as ours but also see this as a model with so many flaws that still have to be overcome, and
challenges that we all face and inequalities of systems and democracies, even where they exist. but remember that in the transition from military to civilian government, truth commissions in the process of that was first done in this hemisphere in argentina, a model that south africa looked at and eastern european countries looked at and others have looked at in the arab world now. remembering also that the terrible adjustment of the '90s on macroeconomics issues were things that this hemisphere went through first. and now with the free trade agreement the broadening of the economic changes to the greater social inclusion and ensure that everybody is included in those benefits is taking root here for specs i think it isn't just what we do for ourselves. it's what we have been able to
do elsewhere, including working with these partners increasingly capable on global issues that matter to us from climate change to the middle east to peacekeeping where uruguay are confident is the largest contribute peacekeepers in the world. so i think it's not just a phenomenon that we will be proud of here but one that is in fact projecting outside. >> if i could add briefly as we look out on to the globe and see some very demanding and in some instances frightening security challenges, to have a strategic enclave in our own hemisphere where we are fighting no war is facing no significant insurgencies or terrorist groups and are able to commerce both in manufacturing and services, but also in political dialogue is the remarkable thing at a remarkable accomplishment. and to have examples of
societies that have moved from authoritarian government to democracy, have moved from close economy to open economies as i've noted is a confidence builder for other countries around the world who are facing similar challenges because our hemisphere has shown that the democracy is not a status quo power structure. it is not about preserving privilege. that it's about addressing profound social problems and doing so in a peaceful way in a transformative way. so i think we have a remarkable platform in the western hemisphere from which to engage the rest of the world. as the assistant secretary noted and as i noted in my testimony this is the region moving from global isil station -- isolation to global engagement. it's not going to be inter-american relations that it's going to have the americas relate to the rest of the world. the fact we have four of our free trading partners being part of the trans-pacific partnership and looking for ways to
transform their own economies by reaching across the pacific into asia and doing so as democratic countries that support open markets, support free trade and support the international institutions that regulate trade is a dramatic accomplishment. we will have an impact on the larger economies and south america that have yet to sign up for these kinds of larger agreements. so we are at the moment of strategic momentum, and if we are able to show that this hemisphere can function in the spherically around establishing priorities and building approaches to the priorities and if we can show that through our dialogue we can present a consolidated face to the rest of the world will have done something remarkable. >> i think the which is further testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator flake. >> turn one. what you think that chairman and ranking minority member for scheduling this thing. this event very informative and
everywhere there's much interest. i want to thank the witnesses and what to thank them particularly for explaining that this new policy is not a reward for good behavior on behalf of the cuban government or obviously there are concerns, huge concerned in terms of human rights that need to be addressed addressed. but i appreciate the clear eyed vision of that, that the administration holds and if you just explained, ms. jacobsen, is it easier to have those discussions with regard to human rights or perhaps negotiating for fugitives from american justice, if we have diplomatic relations with other relationship in better contact in the situation as it has been? >> it's only possible road with a policy of engagement. those were things we really couldn't do before.
>> that's important, i think important in this discussion but we often think is this a guarantee now is great engagement in any improvement will be in the offing. that assumes that we have a good policy now that is yielding benefits, that we haven't for about 50 years now, and now at least there is the possibility that we might be able to make some improvements and see increased freedom for the cuban people. so i applaud the administration for taking this position and for pursuing this. let's turn to travel for a minute. it was said before that when people traveled, some to stay in the hotels owned by the government and therefore revenue will flow to government. there's no doubt that will happen but it's significant as was mentioned by senator boxer that companies like airbnb have gone into cuba now this is a
company that has a website that books travel, mostly bed and breakfast for people into private homes. i was just looking at it while we were here. if you just scroll down they haven't outlined in more than 2000 listings in cuba. a bit of perspective committed to the months, sorry years to get in some of the markets like san francisco to get up to 1000 listings. you've got 2000 listings, i think this is just i think a thousand over just about 50 days so it's very significant. and for the most part, or virtually all of these listings are people in their homes, people who will benefit from visits by americans and others, and that there's less of a chance or less of that money certainly will flow to the government. nobody denies that increased travel increase revenue that goes to the cuban government
but at what cost to the cuban government? i've always felt that if we lived some of the restrictions that the cuban government may seek to impose some of their own, because obviously they want to revenue but they fear what else the freedom that might come with the increased travel. but i've often also said if somebody's going to limit my travel it should be a communist. that's what they do. not our own government here. that's not our purview. that's not our prerogative to limit the travel of americans. so with regard to cuban american travel i think it's significant the president lifted some restrictions a few years ago. ms. jacobson, can you tell or ambassador shannon, what is happening to regard in terms of increased travel over the last couple of years with the policy change with regard to cuban american travel? >> thank you, senator, pretty
much. i think it's clear that in the regular changes the administration has made over the last few years to increase the ability for families to see each other, for cuban-americans to go to cuba, as well as the changes most recently in december there've been many more cuban-americans traveling. there have been certainly it's been critical to us i think to ensure that remittance amounts go up to him and he did quite dramatically and the most recent regulatory changes. because in many ways they have been the capital that has founded some of the most important private sector emergence. and will almost certainly continue to do so including some of his private homes that are serving as on airbnb, people who want to run their own businesses, who are allowed to in areas of the cuban government will permit but don't have the
resources to do so and can be held by folks in the united states. >> well, thank you. as one who has traveled frequently to cuba over the past 15 years i can tell you for several years it was tough to see any change for progress because the cuban government, it seemed they would loosen controls when they need to in titan imaging. but traveling there over the past couple of years has been a significant event and i think it's because of the increased travel, particularly by cuban-americans, that you see the type of entrepreneurship that has been allowed but will likely continue now much tougher to turn and reverse. that certainly isn't the feeling that those of us who have traveled down more recently have gotten competitive that will only increase with increased american travel. there are no guarantees that anything will happen, but change is more likely to occur with
increased contact from the use. let me touch on diplomatic relations and the appointment of ambassador to cuba. how will that help with regard to those who do business legally, americans who do business legally can cuba and increased number of americans who travel what benefits will they have if we have full diplomatic relations that they don't have been? >> obviously our intercession give already provide some services in both those areas. but i would say that having the u.s. ambassador, having full diplomatic relations is always much better in terms of being able to engage with governments at the highest level, the representative of the president and being able to advocate for those businesses, u.s. businesses that can operate legally, being able to advocate for them against competitors being able to support americans while they are there.
it's also critical to what we have sufficient staff to be able to support the influx of people and americans are going to cuba so we can provide the services. we can only do that with full diplomatic relations. >> thank you. in closing, trip to of what you think ranking minority member for mentioning the travel act that has sponsorship of the majority of this committee, 10 of 19. we look forward to pushing that forward. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks for your interest in this issue. senator udall? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. really appreciate you holding this hearing and doing it you and senator cardin come in such a balanced way. very much appreciate that, and i'm honored senator flake, to be on your freedom to travel bill. i think one of things that is so important is opening cuba up to travel, and there couldn't be better ambassadors and our citizens going down to cuba and visiting about what we are all
about in terms of democracy and human rights and those kinds of very very important values. and i at the beginning just want to say i very much support this policy the normalization. i think we are turning the page on a failed policy that's been going on since the early 1960s. we are moving to empowering the cuban people empowering cuban entrepreneurs, and every welcomed this new chapter of normalized relations. it was mentioned earlier about, you were asked several questions, really appreciate you both being here and all your hard work over the years in this area, about the private sector. and i looked for reports on what's happening down there and i think it's fascinating in terms of the growth the dramatic growth in the private sector. 2013 brookings report, there are
probably more because that's an old report, is looking at close to 1 million classified as private sector to give 500,000 legally registered self-employed and then have another 570,000 farmers who own or lease private plots working solo or in cooperatives. and as i think is mentioned in your testimony, there's an organic sector that's also working there. organic farming and organic marketing. in addition to that there's another estimated, from this report 600000 to 1 million were labeled private sector but they are considered illegal by the cuban government. so there's also a sector that is growing. so you have these two large sectors which could be in the range of 2 million. i think that's what, when we traveled down there when we engage down there, and our
commerce is these are the folks that we are helping. these are the folks that we are helping grow. these are the folks that we are empowering everything that's a very good thing. one of the areas they think is critically important, and is increasing our agriculture interaction with cuba and so i'm also proud to be on come in addition to senator flake senator heitkamp has a bill to increase agricultural sales. come on back. and this week i'm introducing a cuba digital education advancement act, also known as the cuba data act with senator flake, senator durbin and senator enzi. the goal is very simple. give u.s. telecommunication companies opening and certainly they need to invest and health cuba open to the world coming to
the cubans the tools they need to engage in the 21st century economy. and to share information and communicate more efficiently with each other and with the world. so secretary jacobson both you and the president have emphasized that access to the internet is one of the cornerstones to the new cuba policy. for those who have not been to cuba it's one of the least wired countries in the western hemisphere. things we take for granted such as e-mail on the phone basically nonexistent in cuba. what are the major challenges the cubans are facing to access the internet, and what can u.s. companies and the congress due to open up cuba to the global internet? >> thank you so much center, and thank you so much for interest in this and the conversations we've had. i think obviously a huge part of the obstacles to the cuban people right now are sheer
access to internet connected devices but its computers or whether it's you know, smart phones. when they have access to that access is expensive. it's almost everybody. even when the costs cause came down recently for the public access to the internet, it was still extremely expensive for most cubans. it was about half a month's wage. so what we are talking about and then there's the question of whether everything is accessible when she did on the web and whether there are things that are blocked. so there are huge challenges for the average cuban. i think that there is a combination of reasons for that but the cuban government fundamentally have to make decisions, and we want to encourage it in every way possible that information and access to the internet be made easier cheaper you know available and open for the cuban
people. that will take a variety of positions by the government that we are encouraging them to take by encouraging american businesses to have those conversations with them and these are the means to do so. >> the goal, as i think you said in your testimony, madam secretary, of the cuban government is have internet access for 50% of its population by 2020. so they have stated this goal as we're trying to move there. this is the goal to you and has also been for developing countries around the world. is this goal achievable by cuba? if the united states telecom companies were allowed to invest in cuba how long would it take to completely wired and? >> that's a great question senator, and i'm not the best of tech expert but i would say that the tech companies that we speak to have conversations even with cuba or about cuba, believe it
is absolutely possible. and in terms of how long it would take, a lot depends on what the cubans decide to do and what kind of infrastructure they put in. >> thank you very much for the answers. just trying to justify the comment. i know that all of the things that been mentioned here that are problems that we don't agree with problems and challenges in cuba. we just have different goals to try to get those things changed. as the last note i'd like to express my support for the extradition of charlie hill. extradition of criminals i think it's an important part of any normal relations between countries. charlie hill who allegedly murdered a new mexico state police officer and hijack the plane must be brought to justice again in of the state department shares this objective and i hope we can continue to make this a priority until we get it done. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. my sense is there may be additional questions, and i'll
defer my time for others who may wish to ask additional questions. senator rubio? >> thank you. a couple going to want to touch on. this internet thing is important i talked about extensively in the past. as i listened to the conversation there's a perception that some of the reason why there's the internet infrastructure in cuba is because the u.s. hasn't gotten to build your the cuban government had a joint venture with an italian company from in years. the telecom industry into the is run by the cuban government and it's a holding held by run by the son-in-law of raul castro. the bottom line is virtually every telecom company in the world, and are dozens of advanced telecom companies in the country that had access to the cuban market and they have not been allowed to build out or have dropped out of joint ventures. the bottom line is the fact that american infrastructure we allowed to come and does not mean the cubans will about.
they don't want the cuban people have access to the internet. in china get something called the great firewater to access the internet in china. there's all sorts of infrastructure. china's both nationally owned and private companies within china that offer telecommunication infrastructure and yet the people in china cannot access the way you and i understand because the government places filters upon. this is a government that will allow you to bring in certain books onto the i look at this is a government that will not allow you to read certain newspapers on the island. this idea that they're going to somehow allow at&t and verizon to say yes, come in and build all this infrastructure from unfettered access to the cuban people is absurd. they cannot survive in internet open. we can pass all the laws we want to the cuban government will still places filters. as far as travel is concerned i
think airbnb that's fantastic. they're all building this topic here's the point. number one even private operators on the island of cuba but in practice, whatever you want to call them still they an exorbitant fee to the government. battening said the vast majority of people that travel to cuba will not be staying at one of these facilities that they will be staying at segregated tourist destinations where tourists are largely brought in common experience that facility and then they leave come into money is going to the cuban military. i for discussion of vietnam china. look, we have full traveled to china and vietnam. they are not anymore democratic and they were when all this started. i think it proves my point that economic openings do not lead to political opened by evidence of china and vietnam. here's my point about the cuban military. invitation to the fact that castro regime stole 6000 properties owned by u.s.
citizens or u.s. companies of which $0 have been compensated, this is the cuban military that has four senior officials, three senior officials indicted or the murder of four floridians indicted in u.s. courts. that's the cuban military. this is the cuban military that was helping smuggle heavy weapons to north korea without consequence. they were caught, no u.n. sanctions, no u.s. sanctions. this is a cuban military that uses access to funds to carry out the sort of grotesque activity. when we're talking to travel to cuba business let's be clear we are not doing business with the cuban people. you may eat at home somewhere but this is still a very small part of the economy for the past and it was majority of americans that traveled and that includes congressional codels journalist diplomats and everything american citizens. u.s.a. in a government facility. every dollar will wind up enhance of the cuban military.
that sponsors terrorism by smuggling arms to north korea that has senior officials indicted for the murder of americans over international airspace, and a cuban military that uses and access it has two funds to enrich themselves and repress the cuban people. there is no economic openings to cuba. it is an economic openings to the cuban military one holding company. >> thank you. senator cardin? >> let me briefly and then i would give to senator menendez. in regards to some response year. there are over 2 million cell phone users in cuba. when i was in china, they d block full access to the internet, although the u.s. embassy site on air quality this one of those frequently visited sites by china national. the only reliable information they can get about air quality. our engagement will bring faster connectivity and more quality
connectivity to the people of cuba. i'm convinced of that. the technology isn't there as senator rubio points out the it's amount of making it available in the people of cuba will demand that. let me just also point out come in regards to the libertat act libertat act provides licensing authority by the administration which is common in these places. so there is a certain authority including ag committee laforge robust discussion in our committee. mr. chairman, i would yield the time to senator menendez. >> transit i.c. senator murphy is there so i will just wait. >> perfect. senator martin. >> thank you, mr. chairman very much. welcome and thank you for all of the good work which you have done. over the years there's been a clearly and isolation from our
country that cuba has had to live with. and i very much appreciate this administration's attempts to normalize relations. i think it is important to i think it is a step in the right direction and they think the actions which you are taking are beginning to make it possible for us to envision a day where we truly have normalized relations with cuba, but it's not going to happen overnight. clearly to but itself has to deal with behavioral changes that are not going to come easy. but that said i think the process has opened and i think we're going to hit in the right direction. i know that senator udall has already talked about this but i think it's important to focus on it, and that is the relationship that exists between information and freedom.
and i think there is without question a huge cultural compatibility that we have with cuba otherwise the red sox would not be paying all this money to be signing cuban players right. they obviously have at least mastered that part of our culture and hopefully we'll be able, you know, using better relationships to be able to broaden that even further. talking about internet talking the telecommunications, can you just outlined all of that for me, i had -- i may have missed the details educated senator udall but what disheveled entrance of the transfer of several telecommunications technology into the human marketplace? >> thank you so much senator. obviously, the regulatory changes are fairly broad in
terms of what can now be sold and provided to cuba in the telecommunications and information area. that maybe hardware, whether it's cell phones or other forms of computers that cannot be sort of not just donated as they could be before but sold to cuba. people in cuba. and it also services that are providing information such as the phone card and phone service that idt in new jersey recent side with the cuban government to do, or other forms of telecommunications work. but i do want to be clear that it is true that all of this takes a decision by the cuban government to move forward with modernization in the telecom sector. that is certainly true. american companies can be able to under our changes, participate in cuba but the
cuban government has already said it wants to modernize and it said things to even come and we'll have to see if they would take those steps. but we want to be part of it if and when they do. we want to encourage them to do so. i think as others have said we think the cuban people want that as well. >> i think the more that we have american tourists down there the more that we have a cultural exchanges, the more that we have students in cuba, the more normalized to that extent is the more likely that the cuban people, cuban students are going to be saying to themselves, why can't we have the technology? if the resistance by the way that existed in her their own country. our own country did not want to move to the digital revolution. our cable until then companies did not move to a. there wasn't one holding a digital in 1996 into we changed the laws. we pretty much had to ifs and
buts of those companies and we're going to win. same thing with cellphones. at the 1994 they were the size of a brick at a cost 50 cents a minute and we didn't have them, ordinary people, some wealthy businessman, gordon gekko, had wanted wall street but not ordinary people. in 2001 in africa, only 12 million people, 12 million people that cell phones, wireless devices. today it is 800 million. we move from these devices to these devices for rapid in america but they're doing it in africa as well. the more it insinuates itself into the culture of individual countries, it changes the culture, changes the business relationships. it changes the entrepreneurial spirit of the country advocacy in country after country over africa. but it's not uniform no question about it but you can see it where it works. it works big thing. i think the same thing is going
to be true in cuba. that the more we can move these devices in at and the more the people in the country demand that they have access to it so they're not the last country in the world without access to these modern technologies, i think we're going to see dramatic telescoping all the changes that were hoping that will happen in that country. and so that's what of all the sectors, that's why radio and tv work was focused on by the reagan administration. they understood the importance of this and the openings which you are talking about here kind of puts it in the mind i think of many cubans ordinary citizens, why not why not us? so what is the level of negotiation or discussion that is going on in terms of telecommunications technologies? who are we speaking to inside of cuba speak with thank you,
senator. there's basically two tracks if you will, one is government. that is the getting of conversation with the cuban government about telecommunications and the of the are many, many private sector conversations with the cuban government to which we are not party but we know about that they are taking place. on the government side we have our ambassador for international communications policy danny supposed to do, who was in havana about two months ago, that was the first time we had that kind of conversation with the cuban government at an official level meeting both with her telecommunications ministry as well as a telecom provider which is state run, to talk about sort of what kind of infrastructure they are interested in and how we have done things in the united states entrance of the regulation and access, as well as many many
u.s. companies have had conversations with the cuban government, and they are beginning to think about the felicitations they put out, the request for proposals if you will of their own telecom sector. >> so the quicker we can move them in that direction, the quicker the whole society changes. it's happened all over the world. they would not be immune to it. i thank you both for your great work. thank you mr. chairman. >> without objection i would like to enter into the record on behalf of senator rubio a letter to david the 18th from the u.s. coast guard. and if there's no objection output into the record. senator flake? >> thank you, mr. chairman. just wanted to clarify a few issues. again we talk about telecommunications and say the cuban government may not allow this, and it's up to them and we can't control them. they may not allow it that's true. they will about what they will allow but we've had a policy for decades that has not yielded