House Speaker Paul D. Ryan left little doubt about his current stance on the Obama administration’s warming ties with the Cuban government. He’s not a fan.
“The Castros continue to jail pro-democracy activists at a rate of hundreds per month, yet it is full steam ahead for the Obama administration’s efforts to appease this oppressive regime,” Ryan said in a statement Tuesday morning.
I fully intend to maintain our embargo on Cuba.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
It’s a bold statement by the speaker and indicating a leadership strong position against President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuban and public campaign to lift the embargo. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, blasted the Obama administration’s latest round of regulatory changes meant to chip away at the U.S. embargo against Cuba and ease trade and travel with the island nation.
The strong rhetoric by Ryan on Cuba appears to be increasing. Ryan has spoken out more in recent years against what he’s called “appeasement” by the Obama administration. It’s a shift after being criticized for his earlier support for lifting the embargo. In 2002, he called the embargo a “failed policy,” but has said that his thinking has evolved as Florida members of Congress, such as Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have helped him understand “just how brutal the Castro regime is, just how this president’s policy of appeasement is not working.”
The administration’s new directive, which it says supersedes any previous presidential directives on Cuba, allow greater engagement between U.S. businesses and Cuba's state-owned companies, it eliminates the $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. It also allows online sales of consumer goods, such as toothpaste and televisions, to Cubans without requiring U.S. companies to get a prior license.
The White House has defended the rapprochement with Cuba as being within the president's legal authority.
But Ryan said allowing such transactions would only finance “the Castros’ grip on power and jeopardize” property rights of American businesses.