Cuban 5

Wis. Candidates’ Positions on our Right to Travel & US/Cuba Relations – Survey Results Released Oct. 28, 2010

In the midst of two wars and much publicized concern over the federal government’s intrusion into the liberties of US people, issues of foreign policy seem to have been largely overlooked in the current election campaign.

Today the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba releases the results of a survey and review of the positions of the Wisconsin candidates for federal office on issues including the federal government’s continued restriction on the rights of U.S. people to travel to Cuba.

In sum, the Democratic and Constitution Party Candidates for US Senate (Russ Feingold and Rob Taylor, respectively) both support the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba, as do all three candidates in the first Congressional District (John Heckinlively -D, Joseph Kexel – Libertarian, and the incumbent Republican Congressman Paul Ryan. In Milwaukee’s 4th District, both Rep. Gwen Moore (D) and challenger Dan Sebring (R) support the right to travel as well as opening up trade with Cuba. Incumbent Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R) in the 5th District takes the opposite view on both issues, although he did not return the questionaire. Cuba is the only country which the U.S. government restricts U.S. citizens and residents from visiting, as it has for most of the past 50 years.

Republican Senate candidate Ron Johnson did not return the questionnaire, nor is there other evidence that he has expressed any view on any of the issues surveyed. Other results, including the candidates’ views on continued US funding aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government, and on release of the Cuban Five (held in US prisons for over 12 years for attempting to monitor terrorist activities in Florida), are contained below.

The results are based on a survey supplied to all candidates of record with fax or email contact information, on October 15, 2010 on 4 issues related to US policy toward Cuba, supplemented by their reported record on these issues.

For futher information contact: Art Heitzer, artheitzer@gmail.com, 414-273-1040, ex. 12; fax 414-273-4859

U.S. – Cuba Relations Survey Results from Candidates throughout Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba is today releasing the responses to four questions related to U.S.-Cuba relations sent to all Wisconsin candidates for federal office in the upcoming November 2nd election.
This is questionnaire supplied to candidates on October 15, and their responses and positions follow:
Where do you stand on key issues in U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba?
The Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba asks you to respond to this brief questionnaire on major elements of U.S. government policy towards Cuba. Your responses will be distributed to thousands of our members, supporters and other interested citizens across the state of Wisconsin. Please circle the appropriate response, and feel free to add any additional comments, attaching a separate sheet if desired. Then kindly fax it back to us at (414) 273-4859, before Tuesday, October 26, 2010. We will share the responses to our members and supporters and to the media.

1. Do you support ending the restrictions on trade with Cuba, in place since October 1960, which prevent U.S. producers from selling any manufactured goods to Cuba?
YES NO UNSURE, BUT I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION
OTHER:

2.Do you support restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba? [Cuba is the only country which the US government restricts our citizens from visiting, from which they could form their own impressions.]
YES NO UNSURE, BUT I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION
OTHER:

3. Do you support continued use of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government?
YES NO UNSURE, BUT I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION
OTHER:

4. Do you support the release of the “Cuban Five”
(five Cubans imprisoned by the U.S. since 1998, for attempting to monitor and prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba by exile groups in Miami)?
YES NO UNSURE, BUT I WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION
OTHER:

Additional comments (attach additional pages if desired):

THE CANDIDATES RESPONSES & POSITIONS

U.S. Senate Candidates

We did not receive a response from Senator Russ Feingold (Democrat). He has long been a supporter and sponsor of repealing U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba. He has also been a leader in calling for an end to TV and Radio Martí, U.S.-funded broadcasts to Cuba. Feingold says the propaganda broadcasts are having little effect on Cuban citizens. He pointed out that a recent government report found that less than 2 percent of Cubans tune in to the programs and a 2006 GAO report shows operational problems like cronyism, patronage and biased coverage. His effort is part of a larger bill aimed at trimming federal spending. Cancelling the project would save tax payers about $300 million.

Senator Feingold has also written to the U.S.-Bureau of Prisons regarding the conditions affecting the Cuban Five, the first and probably the only U.S. Senator to do so.

We did not receive a response from Ron Johnson (Republican) and have found no information on any position he has formulated on U.S.-Cuba relations.

Rob Taylor (Constitution) answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, favoring repeal of restrictions on trade with Cuba and supporting the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. For question 3, he responded “no” to the continued use of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government. For question 4, he indicated he was unsure about supporting the release of the Cuban Five, but is interested in receiving more information.

U.S. Congressional Candidates
(Wisconsin)

1st District

John Heckenlively (Democrat)
answered “yes” to questions 1, 2 and 4, and “no” to question 3. He supports ending restrictions on U.S. trade with Cuba and restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. He is against supporting the continued use of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government, adding that “Cuba has several things we should be copying, especially their healthcare system.” He supports release of the Cuban Five adding “if we are serious about ‘fighting terrorism,’ why is the United States government holding people who were attempting to hunt down terrorists who blew up an airliner?”

Joseph Kexel (Libertarian)
answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2 and “no” to question 3. He supports the end to restrictions on trade with Cuba and restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. He is against supporting the continued use of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government. He indicated that he would support the release of the Cuban Five, “if there is a certainty that they have no involvement in violent actions. It may require a case by case decision.”

Joseph Kexel also noted that “The US government has no authority to undermine foreign governments we are not at war with. I feel that full trade will open up Cuba faster than any other action we could do. Allowing Americans to visit Cuba would also increase the rehabilitation of Cuba. Freedom is [a] powerful thing. We are doing more damage by hiding freedom from Cuba than we can even imagine.”
The office of Congressman Paul Ryan (Republican) stated his policy is to not respond to questionnaires but may be willing to have a discussion on the matter. In the past he has supported repeal of the travel ban and working towards normalized relations, calling the past U.S. policy a failure. He has not co-sponsored repeal of the travel restrictions in the current congress.

2nd District

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (Democrat)
answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, and “no” to question 3. She supports the end to restrictions on trade with Cuba and restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. She is against continued use of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government. She is unsure about releasing the Cuban Five, but is interested in receiving more information.

3rd District

We did not receive a response from Congressman Ron Kind (Democrat), but he repeatedly has supported ending the U.S. restriction on travel to Cuba, including as a co-sponsor of The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act in 2009.

We did not receive responses from either Dan Kapanke (Republican) or Mike Krsiean (Independent) and do not have information on their stances on U.S.- Cuba relations.

4th District

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (Democrat)
answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2, thus supporting the end to restrictions on trade with Cuba, and for restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. She indicated she is unsure about continued use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government, but is interested in receiving more information on this and on releasing the Cuban Five.

Dan Sebring (Republican)
answered “yes” to questions 1 and 2 and “no” to question 3. He supports ending restrictions on trade with Cuba “provided lifting those restrictions does not include them in American job killing ‘free trade’ agreements such as NAFTA.” He supports restoring the right of people from the U.S. to travel to Cuba. He is against continued use of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to fund programs aimed at overthrowing Cuba’s social system and government, adding “this is a perfect example of continuing wasteful government spending on a program that is not producing results. If Cuba’s social system and government are to be overthrown, it will be done from within by the Cuban people.” He is unsure about releasing the Cuban Five but would like to receive more information.

He also added that “I was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the 1980’s. It was during that time that I formulated the opinion that relations with Cuba should be ‘normalized’. Having served in Guantanamo Bay, and having interacted with the few remaining Cuban nationals that still worked on the base at the time I believe I have an insight to the Cuban people that other legislators may not share.”

5th District

We did not receive a response from Todd Kolosso (Democrat) and do not have information on his stance on U.S.-Cuba relations.

We did not receive a response from Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (Republican), but he has been an outspoken opponent of allowing U.S. people to travel to, or trade with Cuba, until its government is replaced.

6th District

We did not receive a response from Joe Kallas (Democrat) and do not have information on his stance on U.S.-Cuban relations.

The office of Congressman Tom Petri (Republican)stated their his policy is not to respond to questionnaires. In 2001, he voted “no” on a bill to defund enforcement of the Cuba travel ban.

7th District

We did not receive a response from either Julie Lassa (Democrat) or Sean Duffy (Republican) and do not have information on their views on U.S.-Cuban relations.

8th District

We did not receive a response from Congressman Steve Kagen (Democrat) but he did co-sponsor the pending Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act which prohibits the President from regulating or prohibiting travel to or from Cuba by U.S. citizens or legal residents or any of the transactions ordinarily incident to such travel, except in time of war or armed hostilities between the United States and Cuba, or of imminent danger to the public health or the physical safety of U.S. travelers.

We did not receive a response from Reid Riddle (Republican) and do not have information on his stance on U.S.-Cuba relations

Categories: Cuban 5, Embargo

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