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tv   Capital News Today  CSPAN  November 24, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST

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are a significant threat to our national security interests. i think they are very high energy intelligence service is primarily a defensive measure in which they see us as their principal an overwhelming threat. i also think they are paranoid about it which i tell them frequently. i think it is silly for them to think we are going to take military action against cuba. right now 11 million people desperately impoverished except for the communist elite few are wearing good clothing, driving cars. i had an opportunity to travel but the actual military capabilities of cubans are almost nonexistent and i don't think that is a national security threat. ..
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their totalitarian stripes. i believe that no significant change is possible in cuba while those to live. if i fought trade, tourist travel and investment with a miracle cure for ending a dictatorship i would be the first to advocate a change in policy. but there is simply no historical precedent or rationale for the argument.
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we to thickly here for arguments for liberalizing travel. the first is flogging will instill greater your and your understanding of democracy in cuba, secondly tourist spending will help average cubans, third, leading the regime feels so we should try something different, and finally the libertarian argument that americans have a constitutional right to go wherever they choose. starting with a let's flood them with taurus proposal, why will this help bring democracy to cuba? it's because the cuban authorities strictly limit and harshly penalize the interaction of ordinary cubans with foreigners, and about the only cubans tourists are going to meet our hotel workers. there are 103 hotels catering to foreign tourists in cuba. 67% of these are located in the low remote keys. there are only 5,632 rooms for about 10,000 tourists in havana, a city of 2.1 million that works
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out to one tourist per 110 cubans. tourists are simply diluted in the sea of cubans. the regime charges average cubans the highest rack rate possible to stay in tourist hotels. that means a night stay would require an average cubin salary for a year, and that's why you're not going to find a regular cubin in your hotel. the cubans the tourists are permitted to see and try and be questioned are trained to say the right thing. there's another problem with the flawed argument to get you americans speak spanish well enough to hold a conversation on mobocracy or anything else with an average cuban who are so rarely speaks. they go for rahm, cigars, songs and sex. they don't go to cuba to sprick democracy. at any rate most to been stalled democracy and freedom are. the of relatives, million abroad. they don't need need to be convinced to love or understand dom mokrzan. with the need is a way to influence regime behavior. tourism and trade have now
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brought down to a totalitarian regime anywhere in history. that's because dictators refused to let tourism to its alleged subversive work. if castro thought he could not control tourism, he simply wouldn't have allowed them in. but they can control them well. in the last decade alone 15 million tourists from democracies have visited the island including several hundred thousand americans. despite this, cuba is not democratized or even liberalized, in fact gone backwards. if tourism had any value as a catalyst for democracy would be the polyglot europeans would have a better chance of engaging cubans, yet there is absolutely no evidence of any liberalizing impact of their stays or in print of their footprint on the regime behavior. it would be more accurate to attribute a strengthening of the state security apparatus to their expenditures since the cuban military owns a hotel the stadium and gets first crack at the cash flow. what about cuba american travel? they spend a lot of money there. and support humanitarian grounds
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but nothing has come or can result from the cuban-americans visits because they are -- have to get to the new passports, they are screened, monitor, they are video. if they miss the eighth day are expelled or never allowed back in, and they don't want to jeopardize their chance of returning. therefore, they don't get into trouble cuba treats cuban-americans as citizens. it does not recognize dual citizenship, so a cuban-american who gets into trouble would be denied access and so they stay out of trouble. the final thought, when american cubans -- american tourists want to go to cuba during winter and on vacation the island's 33,384 and five-star hotel rooms are booked solid with canadians and europeans. with fidel oust them to make room for americans? what he want to be dependent again on fickle americans in this critical industry? american policy? i doubt it. now to the argument that tourist expenditures will trickle down to the average cuban jose.
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again, 15 million europeans have spent tens of billions of dollars there. the benefits the exclusively to the state, poor jose has seen none of it. the regime knows how to and has prevented seepage or trickle down from tourist expenditures. the tourists stay at all-inclusive hotels. the state owns the hotels, bars, restaurants, clubs, the shops and souvenir stands. the tourists can buy little from average cubans. and a hotel worker gets to keep little for the tourist spends. they only get 5% of the salary that goes to the joint venture partners. they can't unionize, can't complain, can't fight back. again, the cuban military controls the industries. the third argument reflects for a change in travel policy reflect the exasperation of the failure of anybody's policies in the world, anybody in the world to induce castro. the world's most successful in the retirement to morph into a democrat. so, the cry comes out let's just try something different. but what would be a new policy
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for us has already been tried and is a policy in just about every country in the world. and there has been no positive impact on human or other fundamental rights in cuba as a result. everyone in the world about us talks come in cages, interests, travels and trades freely with regime, even the wherewithal to survive. and we allow hundreds of thousands of cuban-americans to take good and cash into cuba, and we saw cuba a good percentage of its food. again, what impact does this have on the raging? that they released political prisoners, allowed free elections, open the internet, given labor rights, allow families to start businesses or given to vince the right to travel freely and live where they want? no. lifting the travel ban now will amount to be giving away future leverage for nothing in return. we should hold this in reserve until the demise of the castro brothers and an end to the travel ban should be used as leverage as a carrot in support of those in the future transitional regime who will have a voice and whether cuba goes toward more or less
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freedom. and regarding the so-called rights of travel of americans to go anywhere they want, the supreme court fold in 1984 and reagan versus all americans do not have a constitutional right to go where they want if the government has a policy reason not to allow that travel. so before we normalize relations with cuba, the regime must show its moral, it must engage in dialogue with its own citizens. normalization is not in and of itself. we can't normalize with a totalitarian regime or cast aside a longstanding focus on human rights in cuba and request to do something different or in our haste to and the cuban problem as a foreign policy issue. normalization will result from cuban actions respect internationally recognized obligations and principles. and as we debate the future of our cuba policy, let's not seize our support for dissidence in civil society. people on the island who want a say in what is best for their future. thank you. >> thank you, ambassador. and now from havana, ms. leiva,
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it is your turn >> please allow me first a few words in spanish. [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] ladies and gentlemen, my husband and i deeply appreciate this occasion to express our views concerning the very important
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issue to americans and cubans within our nation and exile you're considering today. excuse me, we fully support ousting the travel and to americans to visit cuba. i assume you know that we have been indicating our lives for the past 17 years to promote the well-being of our people through human rights activism. oscar is an independent and journalist and sentenced to 20 years in prison during the 2003 crackdown on 75 peace linda fungibles. 53 of them are still in terrible prison conditions and in cuba there are over 2,000 political prisoners altogether. yet they do not feel hate for want revenge. oscar was granted conditional release due to his very poor
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[inaudible] pecan returned to jail at any moment since the terms he cannot talk openly it continues to do so. i am also an independent journalist, and when he was in prison i was one of the founders of the ladies in white for the release of the 75. until last year when i decided to focus on writing and assist in the prisoners' families -- prisoners and their families. to the developments in the country and its people, to exchange ideas and experiences, to disseminate space traditions it is essential to be there. citizens of almost all countries find troubling a commonplace, except for americans and cubans, although we are only separated by the short distance of the florida straits. the comprehensive force by generations with intertwined our history through commerce, science, culture, read forbes,
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dreams and families have suffered a great deal during the last five decades of estrangement. it is very difficult to understand during the last eight years united states has become cuba's principal food supply year and fifth largest trading partner, but americans cannot walk our streets or shop with our people. only recently we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. it should be recalled that the iron curtain started to open up by millions of westerners visiting the country's. we are grateful to the politicians who carried out the policy that helped create the conditions for this peaceful outcome. americans played a significant role. today you have a similar opportunity regarding cuba.
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we are aware of the concern of many distinguished congress women and men of the financial the impact of american tourism on the cuban economy, fearing that the civility of giving birth to the totalitarian regime we believe that many thousands of americans visiting cuba would benefit our society and enhance our people. firstly through the free flow of ideas and further asking the government to open up and provide goods and services such as renting rooms because the capacities in the hotels would be surpassed. it would improve the impoverished living standards far more critical today than in the 1990's when some were allowed. everyone will know that the cuban state would not claim credit over those improvements but that this comes from americans. cuban authorities have closed all private initiatives to type
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of the people economically. as a means to have them politically dependent. of course american visitors who would spend money collected by the cuban government, but it is so inefficient it would only be able to keep small amounts. very little to cover its great needs. it is incapable of producing the food sold international -- to our nationals and has to buy them -- excuse me and has to buy them more than 80 per cent abroad. we're mostly in the united states. rick now it is important to find so many americans products and our limited supply store. no other country can compete in terms of quality and proximity. both of which stimulate trade in many ways. then the return of the american -- imagined and the return of the money americans spend
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through purchases from american farmers and other businessmen in order to supply hotels, restaurants and stores. in the short run, many other possibilities will flourish. human authorities blame the embargo for economic problems existing in the country and receive international, public opinion by expressing its lifting. in fact they used the embargo to justify all of their own wrongdoings' economic inefficiency risk-management and repression. they feared losing that just as the panic of the idea having no excuse to prevent americans from coming in. in spite of the propaganda and the manipulation of what goes on beyond our tight boundaries most cubans find ways to know, are eager to listen, have a faith and fulfill promises, are disgusted by the daily and do
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not see a decent future. after 15 years of being locked away from the world, cuban society is on the cusp of changes. it is not a matter of generational, but exception of a system that has fallen into a deep economic, political and social crisis with no solution other than the changes. these might come from the power structure aware of their ability or from the people out of desperation and their civil commitment. they could be in turmoil with great repression. we strive for an understanding among all cubans for advancing democracy in a civilized and peaceful manner. the future of cuba depends what we cubans do today. yet, we are past tension in the united states will favor our goals. in a country where it is impossible for most citizens to have internet at home we can not
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dream of communicating with americans and such -- in a way that is so common nowadays in most parts of the world, nor could anyone be able to experience reality here if he does not set foot on our land. this year we enjoy an art exhibition from york. we could not have the pleasure of the new york orchestra performance. many scholars signed [inaudible] were not able to interact. americans and cubans have to stand up to the 21st century and restart our walk together respecting the rights of our people, facilitating the path toward democracy, not waiting for the cuban authorities jester but being proactive. we hope all americans can visit
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cuba. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much for your testimony and for your courage. and now mr. sosa. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman and ranking member for the opportunity to speak today. i am a cuban-americans on, brother, nephews and cousins of cubin heroes who fought in the bay of pigs and served time in castro's jails. as a hispanic and a republican, i am a member of to minorities in my home state of massachusetts, and one of the 13% who voted for george w. bush and 2004. however, i am a part of a new and growing cuban majority. 67% that seek to end the isolation of cubans and americans from each other, and that's why i'm here today. the ban on american travel to cuba is an affront to those who
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believe the right to travel is a fundamental right of all american citizens. we who believe in limited government object to the notion of requiring the government license to travel to cuba, the only country for which such license is needed. the travel ban is a violation of our inherent right to privacy, of our right to free speech, our right to freely associate with whom we wish and our right to pursue happiness. in a globalized world, travel act as a powerful transmitter of new ideas that enrich both the traveler and the country visited. cuba today is an island isolated not only from its largest neighbor but also from the free flow of ideas and people. yet the rise of independent bloggers on the violent remind us that even the most repressive of governments cannot stop new technologies from spreading timeless ideas of freedom and democracy.
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it's time for americans to start developing relationships with cubans from all walks of life. this is especially true as cuba years its rendezvous with leadership change, sharing our hopes and dreams with those who live in the quiet despair of communist cuba can only help reawaken the first for freedom that reside in every repressed cubin heart. to those who point to the large number of canadian tourists who travel to cuba and say how come canadian tourism has failed to produce material change to cuba i say this is a completely false analogy. the population of canada is almost one-tenth of the size of the united states. moreover, canadian hispanics and african canadians account for a combined 4% of that country's population versus a combined 28% for those same ethnic groups and the u.s., and i would add the
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percentage of hispanics and people of african descent from european countries is even smaller. so not only are the numbers of american tourists traveling to cuba going to be much greater than anything we've seen from canada those american tourists are much more likely to share demographic and cultural ties with the cuban people. and by the way, according to the u.s. census bureau, 34.5 million americans speak spanish as their first language. that's more than the entire population of canada. the recent incident involving cuban security forces beating and detaining three well-known dissident bloggers is a useful reminder of the solid nature of the cuban government. the assault in the rest of the bloggers occurred just win five u.s. asked cuba for progress on human rights as part of a potential road map to normalizing relationships. this is no coincidence.
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this is no coincidence. history is littered with instances of cuba taking deliberate steps to sabotage american efforts toward rapprochement. it is clear that cuba, like iran, users hostility from the united states as a way to legitimize its totalitarian government and explain a way decades of failed economic policy. president obama, secretary clinton, and the u.s. congress should not take the bait being offered by the cuban government when it attacked the cuban waters. it is important that the united states pursue policies that increase people to people contact between the two countries, regardless of what ever steps the cuban government might take in response. conditioning improvements and effectiveness of u.s. policy to whatever actions cuba pursues effectively puts control of our foreign policy in the hands of the cuban regime. lifting the ban on american
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travel to cuba and allowing more cubans to enter the u.s. on travel visas will do more to further the cause of freedom than the tit-for-tat of diplomatic gamesmanship. the real losers in that game are always the same, the long-suffering people of cuba. as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall, it's important to remember that none of the eastern european countries that threw off the yoke of communism were isolated from their western neighbors, not one. moreover, it was exposure to the western travelers, media and a general familiarity with the west, with all the westworks that inspired millions in eastern europe to seek a future free from communism. cuba is no different. it's time to put the cuban government on the defensive by removing all united states government obstacles to the isolation of cubans from americans. if cuba's government fails to
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respond with greater openness the blame will fall squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of the cuban government. america should never again allow the cuban government to use american policy as a scapegoat for that regime's failures. so, i finished by pleading with the members of this distinguished committee and house of representatives to pass the freedom to travel to cuba act. i also asked senator kerry as the chairman of the foreign affairs to co-sponsor and mark up the senate version of the freedom to travel to cuba act. thank you, and may god bless america. [applause] >> thank you. again, please. ms. antunez is next. she will speak in spanish and then her comments will be translated so this will take a little longer than the normal presentation.
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knees antunez. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: good morning. my name is antunez. i come as the sister and niece of political prisoners. i left cuba a short time ago as an activist in my country and worked as best i could to organize the family members of political prisoners to advocate for their release.
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my uncle who has serious health problems after spending several years in prison and was removed from prison to spain last year. my brother jorge luis garcia is prize remains in cuba's struggling for freedom as part of the resistance for the rights of the cuban people for the space change that the majority of the people want. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: the castro's war against the debate goes to peacefully want change while criticism on the global stage and international condemnation of its repressive conduct. >> [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: de castro regime feels emboldened by the half dozen latin american heads of state to travel to havana to raise the longest standing bloodiest dictator by spain's policy toward the island of the objective of which is to bolster and uphold the dictatorship and by the increasing influence of hugo chavez in the region. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on the other hand, the regime fears the ever more manifest defiance and noncooperation of the cuban
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people, therefore proceeding the weakness in the world space community it has made its dirty war ever more public an effort to steal the unrest in the hearts of the cuban people, the physical attack on the blogger and her companions just a few days ago is an example of this. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: my own brother jorge released from prison april, 2007 has decided to remain in the country in order to continues of the struggle for space change. he's been the target of constant arrest, beatings and harassment by castro's reprisal apparatus. jorge luis has seen how the
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regime becomes bolder and bolder in its repression as it receives unilateral concessions from the world's democracies. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: in april of this year in a letter to the cuban-american members of congress he wrote it is extraordinarily remarkable that while the castro regime increases repression, while the district of our compatriots inside and outside of the prisons particular sectors of the united states seek engagement with the oldest and most repressive dictatorship of the continent. >> [speaking in spanish]
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[speaking in spanish] >> translator: [speaking in spanish] >> translator: therefore, i believe this is not the time for the united states government to transform its policy regarding travel to cuba. indeed, those who in good faith belief that by doing this they will help the cuban people are mistaken. i see this as someone who was born and lived all her life in cuba until the short time ago, and i am speaking to you about
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the reality i know well. throughout all of my life i have faced and confronted the prison wardens, the state security agents, the military personnel and agents of repression are the true face of the regime. i know the regime's contempt for the cuban people and how they show no mercy to those of us who are black. the experiences i have lived through do not allow me to fall under the spell of the regime's sophisticated diplomats, agents of influence in key positions or of its professional propagandists. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: they're real people of cuba, the cuban people that suffer and deeply desire to live in freedom, will not benefit from any tourist travel. rather, those resources will serve the totalitarian regime to increase its repressive capabilities. some people in genuinely think tourists will have direct contact with the cuban people and this will help cubans to have a clear vision of freedom. in the first place cubans are reprimanded, find and even imprisoned for maintaining contact with tourists. there are places in cuba where kids are subject to restrict entry or time schedules so that they will not be present at the same time as tourists. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: it must be understood that for years european, canadian and latin american tourists have traveled to cuba, without having any
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impact on the cuban reality but rather on the government's coffers. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: it is an error to think american tourism will mean something positive to the cuban people. with the cuban people need once again is the support of the american people in their struggle for freedom. the cuban people and internal resistance more so than the need tourists need people who will stand in solidarity in the u.s., chris and advocate for their liberation. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: we ask recognition for the men and women who run the grave risks for the sake of the rights of an entire people. we ask for a place to be raised against the repression, the
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prisons, and the censorship imposed against our people for 50 years. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> translator: there are those who held that the castro regime represses in order to avoid a representative pro rapport which was meant with the united states. this is the mistake the real nature of that regime. the castro regime represses because its priority is to stay in power. the reason why it has spent 50 years killing imprisoning persecuting and forcibly exiling cubans is because it knows very
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well that the immense majority of the cuban people desire freedom. if the cuban people were not repressed we would already be free. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: the regime once the discussion on cuba in a place as important as this to revolve around the questions of tourists or no tourists, commercial relations or no commercial relations because the regime fears this conquer is making the debate on how the united states can directly support those who struggle for cuba's freedom its priority. >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: and i ask you to echo the opinion of my brother antunez and many thousands of cubans on the island on which side as the u.s. congress wished to be
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>> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on the side of those who engage in oppression and attempt to silence the free thought and voice of the cuban people? >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on this side of those who today engaged in torture into the prison's? >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: or on the side of those who engage in civic non-violent struggle for cuba's freedom? >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on the side of the enormity of repressed, or on the side of those who flaunt their power, self-serving lee, and on a scrupulously for over 50 years? >> [speaking in spanish] >> translator: on the side of the totalitarian regime nearing its end, or of a young and vigorous resistance that sooner, rather than later, shall take
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the reins of its country? thank you npv [applause] >> thank you. let me explain our situation. there is a vote we are going to have to reassess for 20 to 25 minutes. we will come back to hear mr. peters, and then we will have questions ms. leiva, if you can stay to be available for questions we would be very grateful. if you are not -- if that is not possible -- >> mr. chairman, if i could ask a question about the seating. we had an incident, everything was worked out now how folks are seated, they probably like where they are seated. how can we make sure that they come back to those seats or will it be new seating? i'm trying to avoid an incident. we've got lots of other people that would like to sit but some folks are happy with the way it is so let's have a policy that
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will apply fairly to everyone. ayaan in line with what ever you choose to do. >> everyone who is seat it should probably hold on to their seat. that is the safest way and then we will bring the caterers and -- no. [laughter] look, it will be a little of a late lunch, but no one -- we don't want to get into a thing where coming in, somebody is standing up a second and taking someone's seat. that wouldn't be fair. so folks who are here, we give you a short term property right to your chair. thank you. [laughter] [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> pictures are worth a thousand words. [inaudible conversations] >> the hearing will resume. i believe we -- everybody has the seat they want? we left off where mr. peters was about to begin his testimony, and so we look forward to hearing from you. >> thank you, mr. chairman and congresswoman for having us today. i'm pleased to be on this panel. i want to begin by saying i particularly appreciated the opening statement, mr. chairman.
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i think that it has been quite well demonstrated over 50 years the point that he made that conditionality, which is a perfectly good concept to use i foreign affairs in this case has yielded no leverage and that the idea of conditionality in this case, and we have used it for so many years, has resulted in a policy where the control of our -- the levers of our policies and have an eye and not in our own hands and that's wrong and it prevents us from doing a lot of good things. you have been debating this issue for a long time, the issue of travel restrictions to cuba. but now your debating it in a different context. and that is the result of the measures president obama took in september of this year. he changed our regulations, and i think it was a very good thing to do so that cuban-americans can now travel freely to cuba, without restriction they can go as long as they want. they can go as often as they want and on top of that he said they can send as much money they
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want to their relatives. no restriction whatsoever. so this changes the issue before you. the issue before you now which is whether to maintain this policy where you have got one ethnic division of americans on ethnic lines and one group has no restrictions. 50 flights a week, filling the airport in miami, some of them are going from new jersey and elsewhere. so you can maintain this policy where we are one group can go without restriction and the rest of us are in the sanctions and penalties under the trading with the enemy act or the other option is to treat all americans are like and give the same freedom. i obviously opt for the second one. you know, it's argued that cuba is a special case somehow and that if we have contacts in cuba that we won't get any influence in cuba or that there is no interaction in cuba between foreigners and cuban citizens
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that other countries travelers have had no impact in cuba, that when the travelers go there no funds get to the cuban people or else one of the gentlemen on the republican side said no foreign travelers do anything to help the cubin civil society. every part of that argument is a complete myth and if you go to cuba you see that that is the case. and we have added to that today a statement by ambassador cason, who's written testimony that, quote, most likely the cubin, that an american would encounter and converse with, the cubin will not be interested in the former's view of politics but will solicit money, toiletries or sex or ask if he can help a person out of the island. i think that is another myth and pretty remarkable statement not to say contemptuous. let me be clear. i don't believe that a policy of unrestricted travel by americans is going to transform cuba.
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we can dyscalculia a lot. you go to the kennedy administration, the bush administration that ended lots of miscalculations in the policy and i am not going to represent to you that american travelers are going to magically changed the political order in cuba. that's not the case any more than anybody can promise to use sanctions will do it but what we can realistically expect is if we allow americans to travel without restrictions we will increase our influence in that country, where influence is quite low at a pivotal time in cuba's history. on restricted travel will create explosion of communication between the country and there's. congresswoman ros-lehtinen rightly pointed out the licensing categories. but a lot of americans and most importantly a lot of institutions and our civil society are toward by those categories. and if you are a college administrator or a few work at a
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church or lead a congregation at a synagogue you are a university president, you can go to any country. if you want to go to cuba you need a license from the federal government. if you want to bring the donation to cuba that is a restricted export. you need a license from the second agency of the federal government. that holds a lot of people back. the explosion of context if we got rid of the disincentives would be a huge. another point i want to make is there is a particular thing about americans. in cuba in that historical context. the cuban government doesn't call canada the empire. they don't claim luxembourg is a genocidal blockade against them. the government has used this idea that the united states is against them, our government is trying to bring them down. for years they've used to justify their policies including repression. if we eliminate our travel restrictions and americans are circulating freely it makes a
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lot harder for the cuban government and sanchez who has been mentioned a lot of times today, she has pointed this out, that it makes a lot harder for the cuban government to make us this external enemy, external threat and scapegoat for their own policies. finally about the issue of money obviously cuba is not a free market economy. obviously it is an economy dominated by the state. but there are entrepreneurs some operating legally and some operating not so legally. there's about 5,000 homes in cuba where people have licenses to rent rooms in their homes. there are more of those, more bids in those homes in the city them there or in the state hotels in the city. there are hundreds and hundreds of them in havana. these people make a livelihood when foreigners come. they employ people sometimes legally come sometimes not quite
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so legally to get the employ people. they feed their families while. yes they pay taxes. we pay taxes, too, unfortunately but they make a good living. and if more americans could go those people that rent rooms in their homes, artists that make money off of price selling their work to foreigners and other entrepreneurs, taxi drivers, restaurateurs, they will have a better living, and that incipient private sector in cuba will expand. that is very much in our interest to see. i think that these are reasons why so many people in cuba who in my experience you formally welcome americans. why so many people in cuba think we should change the policies you suggested by allowing unrestricted travel. the catholic church has called for this for many, many years, dissidents such as [inaudible]
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, sanchez, the leading human rights monitor in the country, a catholic activist, vladimir, the of all called for the and to travel restrictions and every time i have seen again everybody is mentioning sanchez, the blogger detained recently and beaten. every time she has addressed the issue she said we should allow unrestricted travel and she's against the whole embargo itself. so what it boils down to, mr. chairman is a question of confidence, a question of whether we are confident saw how the regime sanctions we have maintained all these years will have an impact or whether something else might work and whether we might have greater confidence in the ability of americans to carry the american idea to keep the and represent the system of government exchange information, bring resources to cubans, help cubin civil society grow.
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secretary shultz wrote to you, secretary george shultz and he pointed out he thinks the sanctions in general are ridiculous. he thinks there is some kind of transition and of some kind going on and it is much more likely we would get a constructive outcome if there is a lot of interaction between cubans and americans. i agree with him and i think we should have much more confidence in unrestricted travel and interaction between the society and cuban society and that will serve our national interest. thank you. -- before, mr. peters and all of you. and now we will start the questioning. i will yield myself five minutes. this morning and number of people have mentioned yolly sanchez, the elder mr. peters just referred to who was beaten up a few weeks ago by state security agents and nevada while
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on her way ironically enough to an antiviolence demonstration. for those of you who don't know her, yoani has a track record of telling the truth. she title her dissertation dictatorships in latin american literature. since it was taken as a veiled criticism of the castro regime she was denied an academic career. now she earns a living in the tourist industry and blogs for free. time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the world. the spaniards have awarded her the equivalent of the pulitzer prize and last month she was awarded the maria more kavanagh price, the oldest of four international journalism from columbia university school of journalism school. she has never been allowed to leave cuba to collect her awards. she wrote an essay for this hearing and i just -- it's part of the record and i would like just to read a few excerpts.
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over the course of several decades, and i am quoting now, cuban exiles and tourists have brought part of the information that has served to undermine the myth of the supposed, quote paradise, in which we live. there is nothing more corrosive for a state that holds itself up as the father and savior of a nation than the testimony of those who in other latitudes have greater space to realize their dreams and greater tolerance for their opinions. faced with no evolution of the current political and social situation and opening of travel for americans could bring more results in the democratization of cuba and the indecisive performance of raul castro. and finally, she says, and again i am excerpting from an entire statement, eliminating these long obsolete travel restrictions would mean the end of the main elements with which official propaganda has
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repeatedly state negative american administrations and the anachronistic travel permit that we need to enter and leave the country would be even more ridiculous. of the phrase spoken by john paul ii that january, 1998 in the plaza of the revolution, quote, led cuba open itself to the world and to let the world open itself to cuba. only the first part would remain to be accomplished. so this is what she says, and ms. leiva, i would like to ask you to expand a little bit on the point you touched on in your testimony. we have heard the motion that more americans coming and visiting cuba their only interaction will be with a few
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hotel workers of their people, too, that is essentially the castro regime will get all the financial benefits and our notion of what might happen in terms of greater interaction between americans and cubans greater information for cubans about america, our intentions, our purposes, our lives none of the what happened. you, are there. why do you think differently? >> the cuban government has always tried to prevent people from getting together or knowing or people coming from abroad each time it is more difficult for them because people want to
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know -- we are friendly and want to talk with all visitors, and besides that, the cuban people are losing fear, repressions in place, there is political beliefs and informers and the defense of the revolution, but each day more and more people speak out what they feel are their problems and besides that it is very important repression isn't enough to people who have lost confidence in the government who are deceived by promises and what something different, want to have a better future, want to be able to speak, walk to travel, want to listen, so the situation in cuba has changed a lot. i would say that its --
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>> ms. leiva, i hate to -- i hate to interrupt you. i should have indicated each member, including unfortunately me is limited to five minutes. i took four minutes myself. i didn't leave you enough time and i apologize. but my time has expired -- ensure we will be coming back to you. ranking member is ros-lehtinen. -- before mr. chairman. if i can direct my question to mr. mccaffrey. earlier this year at a hearing on the subcommittee of national security and foreign affairs of the committee on oversight and government reform you testified, and i quote, mr. castro engaged me for a couple of hours, and i will continue, but i always find it intriguing that people are so proud of the number of hours
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castro spends. spent two hours, no, three hours, for i was, five hours, i guess that gives you some kind of bizarre street badge of honor. using mr. castro engaged me a couple of hours and he wants his spice back from florida. i remember telling him i said mr. castro i'm sure you are very proud of these men come and they are cuban patriots and you will get them back eventually win a we have normalized relations, and of quote. i find that regrettable. , mr. mccaffrey that he would refer to the stevan spice convicted in our u.s. fair criminal justice system and whose cases were reheard again and whose convictions were once again reaffirmed as patriots and that you focus on returning these supplies to the cuban regime yet you do not mention cop killers like joanne and other fugitives of u.s. law and
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justice to have given refuge by the cuban regime also in your testimony from april of this year you noted and i quote there is no question there are lots of drugs floating around cuba, and particularly washing up on shore. bundles of cocaine and marijuana but there was clear to me that they were not on a government basis but part of an international conspiracy to threaten the regime and threaten their sense of communist morality. communist morality given the brutal and repressive apparatus of the regime that will skew the totalitarian dictatorship, exerting absolute control over the island and its people you really think that fidel and raul and the regime elite are not aware of drug trade in and out of the island and do not facilitate or sponsor such
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activities? and also in your testimony before the government reform subcommittee you said and i quote i bring some of them, meaning to the officials in our schooling system. i get into of them to go to leavenworth. the first five years that the intel people but eventually they get jealous and some of the commerce we get this lot. so dialogue, engagement on areas of mutual the interest, that will work. in light of the significant threat post to the nation and interest by cuban espionage and a new light of the recent massacre at fort hood we're all of these signals and all of these signs were completely overlooked how can you have no problem with opening the doors of leavenworth and our training programs to the cuban intelligence agents who are declared enemies of the united states? i find that shameful, sir.
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>> my title is general after 32 years of military service. >> i apologize. >> -- wounded in action i'm offended by your deliberate marginalization of my viewpoint and let me know what to say -- >> i was quoting you, sir, are those not quotes? are the quotes, yes or no? >> i'm offended by your language. >> you are offended by your quotes? >> let me go on to respond -- >> what part of your quotes of and you? >> are you going to let me answer? >> i have five minutes i can do whatever i wish. so, go ahead. i want to know are you offended by your quotes? i was quoting you. >> if you're asking me if i think the cubans are a national security threat to the united states my answer is if you ask for the top 20 national security threats they wouldn't be among them. now, my actual viewpoint, however, is that u.s. national
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interest will be better served by lifting the travel ban, by engaging in diplomatic contact with them and indeed -- >> my specific questions were asking you whether you do not feel that our security would be at any risk by your quotes saying that he would invite these officials to come into our facilities. >> this is silly -- >> that is your quote. door opened by your quote? >> it doesn't apply to the realities. what i support is people to people the engagement, diplomatic -- >> reading from your quote, sir. >> -- economic engagement -- >> the time of the gentleman has expired. >> just the facts. >> the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. delahunt is recognized. >> general mccaffrey, i want to go on the record and say that i consider you a great american patriot. [applause]
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but let's talk about our national security. ..
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tzipi its torstar marion retired in and the former self can't the mather. >> this was not the letter that was signed so lanelle i understand record, but i want to read excerpts from this letter because it goes to the issue of national security. the american national security. this is the letter that these men signed. these american patriots that have fought for this country. in u.s. policy towards cuba has not only failed in its principal objective of ending cuba's communist system but has harm our interest across the board. most important, it works against our national security interest. in our judgment the committee would advance the best interest of the united states by acting
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favorably on h.r. 874 the freedom to travel. do you concur with the conclusion that these gentlemen submitted for the record? >> i do. i think it is a very sensible view point. >> okay. to mr. sows the, i had never heard the argument before to mr. cason's testimony relative to lifting the travel ban would be of no avail because we don't speak spanish, and he was going to talk to us? and hugh are we going to talk to? and you made an observation, or i think you noted that how many hispanics-- >> according to the u.s. census bureau and a 2004 report 34.5 million speak spanish as a
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first language. >> as a first language. some of us who speak spanish, 34 million of us speaks spanish as a first language. i wonder how many of those 34 million are americans of cuban descent. >> i think the american, the cuban-born citizens in this country i think are 1.5 million. i may be wrong. >> there are 33 other americans out there that speak spanish as their first language? i would suggest that argument put forth by mr. cason really doesn't seem to hold water, but he did reference a case decided back in 1984, at the midst of the cold war where he said that the authority of the president if he has a policy issue is he
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suggested it was unfettered and the untrammeled, but let me read from the language of that case. in the opinion of the state department cuba with the political economic and military backing of the soviet union has provided widespread support for armed violence and terrorism in the western hemisphere. cuba maintains close to 40,000 troops in various countries in africa and the middle east and support hostile foreign policy. therefore we think there's an adequate basis under the due process clause of the fifth amendment to sustain the president's decision to restrict travel. general mccaffrey, are we faced with the same conditions today? >> are there still 40,000 cuban troops all over the world? >> my take on the island right now is it is one of the poorest places on the face of the earth
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in my time in the military. >> the time from the gentleman from arizona has expired. >> just before questions i want to this bill something that is then brought up a number of times here. a deskmen said that people want to go to cuba. i believe mr. cason mentioned the tourists go there for rum, sex and what leveler else, there are a list of pejorative send i have heard from others as well that seem to indicate the only reason people go to cuba is to lie on the beach and drink and i think it is deeply offensive to a lot of americans to go for a number of reasons. not just to sit on the beach and the notion that we don't have a travel ban, we only have a currency ben, that is just grasping at straws basically.
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tell that to the woman who i believe was from indiana who went to cuba to distribute bibles with her church group. she was not aware of the restriction. she went through candidate because that was where they were going through and she went through to distribute bibles. she gut find when she got back. i would like for her to say there is no ban on the travel to cuba and this notion that everybody goes for these reasons is just offensive to so many americans to go there. every place in the world he will have bad actors but to lump everybody who goes to cuba and travels to cuba into one group who are simply seeking sex tourism or something is just deeply offensive. i have to say that from the outset. mr. cason you mentioned tourism and trade have not brought down a totalitarian regime anywhere in history. you know there's no evidence to suggest that increasing tourism
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to cuba will help promote democracy. do you have any evidence to present that indicates that isolating a regime anywhere in the world like this has fostered democracy? >> i would like to mention what the lech walesa of talked about, the question of tourism in the freedom of the czechleslovakia is in poland and they said it had absolutely no relevance whatsoever. the point i am making is that tourists travel, we are not talking about the other 18 categories, the notion that allowing toorist to go to areas where basically the hotel rooms are, in areas you are aware of that i have visited, that those people are going there somehow to promote democracy to interact with the cuban people. in fact it can't happen. >> reclaiming my time, i ask for evidence and you quoted wellen
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said that it had no effect there. are there instances where isolating the regime has had the opposite effect that you can point to? i would suggest that you can't. mr. sosa will make a compelling argument that engaging the cubans however, allowing travel and other means will foster democracy. you argued that it doesn't. i would suggest that you have no more evidence on your side then he has on his. >> my evidence is history. there have been millions and millions of people from all over the world who have gone for over 50 years to cuba. >> you are making the reverse argument. tell me a time where we have had a travel ban that has actually foster democracy in another country, just answer that question. ken lay pointman example of that? >> i don't think we have a travel ban on cuba. for a long period of time, for a long period of time large
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numbers of people that been able to go, hundreds of thousands of cuban-americans can go. my point is they have not brought any political change of the sword people are arguing here should result from that. >> reclaiming my time. it has been mentioned as well that this legislation are what we are trying to do here is to increase-- encourage tourism or promote tourism or to encourage travel. mr. peters you studied the legislation. this is legislation contain a grant program for travel agents to promote travel to cuba or does this legislation simply say you are allowed. we will give you the freedom that we give you and every other area? >> it is the latter. the legislation you are referring ends the prohibition. it doesn't push anybody to go anywhere and no it doesn't have the u.s. government funds to promote tourism or give grants to anybody. >> nobody end of this legislation is compelled to do
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anything? it is simply granting them the freedom should they wish to travel. >> that is correct. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the time of the gentleman has expired and the gentleman from new jersey, mr. sires is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. i will speak to the 34 million people that speak spanish. i was a spanish teacher for ten years. my brother obviously is cuban, my younger brother, they speak spanish. they will tell you yes. you talk to them. it is an embarrassment. and they are my brothers. i taught in school that was 93% hispanic. you will ask the students at the spoke spanish, they will tell you 90% will say yes i am not agreeing with any of you but this notion that 34 million people speak spanish, yes they say it is the first language because they go home and say,
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how are you. beh this lindbeck my question comes to this. i am hard-pressed to think that if we lift the travel ban that is going to help the cuban people when the government controls every single aspect from who gets to rent a room, from who gets to go where, from the people that come into the island because i assume they are going to curtail if there is a whole max of people going to the ivan so for me to accept the fact that this is somehow helping in any way i only see them helping the government. so, anybody who wants to take a shot at that, i am sure that ewald do. >> a couple of things. first of all the 34.5 million comes from the u.s. census bureau and--
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>> excuse me, reclaiming my time. the census bureau says check bespeak spanish. u.s. my brother of the speaks spanish, he will say yes. >> i don't know your family but anybody-- >> i was the teacher for ten years. the hispanic district where 93% of the students were hispanic. >> anybody u.s. traveled around the united states in been to a major american city knows that there's a tremendous number of people who speak spanish. >> i don't disagree with that. you sound like everyone is such a fluent spanish speaker. >> there are a lot of us. so your other point was what it help the cuban people? >> how is it going to trickle down to the cuban people? >> first of all is not troopers in the travels from the united states to cuba is somehow followed a round with some
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minder. i have been to cuba several times. i have wandered all over the island. i am sure there was somebody looking one way or the other it what i was doing but it did not stop me from talking to people. i have talked to wall boxes-- you cannot control hundreds of thousands of americans the right thing tomorrow in cuba. it is not possible. >> let me tell you this story. ivan friend from colombia to went to cuba because he figured sooner or later they are going to do something. he went to cuba and when he got to cuba he was called into question, what was he doing there and he was not even cuban so for you to say you do not follow. every single thing that i get, every conversation that i get, people are followed, people are trapped. i still have antz, i still the cousins' in cuba. when we get a chance to see the
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family, this is the information that i get. i am just hard-pressed. the people who want to benefit, i may think twice about my position. i just don't think it's going to trickle down for the cuban people and that is my argument against this. >> it has not trickled down. >> i would encourage you to go on the internet and look at the private homes that people rent. these are little businesses. >> mr. peterson, who gives them the permission to rent the homes? >> they are licensed by the government. >> the government gives them the permission? >> they have to get a license to do it. they pay taxes. i'm not in favor of licenses and i'm not in favor of taxes either but it is not unique think you but the people pay taxes. this people make good money. the employee people. >> do you think any of the dissidents will get a license to
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run to somebody? do you think idid that will ever get a license to rent their rooms? >> i'm not in favor of a restriction of that nature but you are asking that the trickle down to people? it absolutely does all over the island and they are our artists that sell to foreigners. there is an evangelical christian who employs five people. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> because he makes a much money doing it. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the gentleman from florida mr. mack is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. chairman in listening to the discussion today from both sides and i think i have found the silver lining in today's hearing. and that is that this committee should move swiftly to apply the same restrictions that we have funky but to iran, sudan and syria all of which are on the state sponsor of terrorism list and at some point we would be
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willing to offer a resolution on this. >> would the gentleman yield? you know you would be trying to repeal by provision so why take it personally. [laughter] >> duly noted. >> mr. sosa if i may, in listening to your testimony, i find it somewhat shameful that you would interject in today's debate racial and ethnic politics by arguing that only if one is from a particular race or ethnicity can one relate to the cuban people or discuss democracy, freedom and human rights. my question is what about the thousands of tourists from spain and mexico? have the spanish-speaking tourists failed? on another question my good friend the ranking member ileana
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ros-lehtinen a she a better ambassador freedom than i am? again i just come as something about your testimony i question why do you would bring up race and ethnicity in this. >> okay. first of all spain was a former colonial master of ubot so that has some historical effects on the people of cuba. there is no question that the people of cuba more closely resembled the people of the united states, the population in general than they do the people of canada. that is just the fact of life. i am not interjecting anything. that does mean in my opinion that there is a much closer ties between the people of cuba and the people of canada and certainly luxembourg or france or germany or any of these other
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countries. >> alright, again listening to your testimony the other thing i heard which i thought was outrageous was somehow it was the american people's fault for the pyrtle regime of the castro brothers, that somehow it was the restrictions we have one cuba somehow it is our fault that the castro brothers continue to be a brutal regime and maybe you and i can talk and sit down and talk some other time, okay we don't have to talk. >> i never said that. >> what i heard you say it's simply drop the restrictions that then no longer could the castro brothers he is u.s. policy. as somehow u.s. policy is to blame here and we hear this a lot. that is just not the case and i think you are misguided. my question to the ambassador, going back to this idea of people traveling to cuba and
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with this money trickled down to cubans? i would like, i have also listen to your testimony and read your testimony. if you would talk a little bit about that because in my opinion it is not going to help one that. >> i think very little trickles down. sure they can have 12 people seated by regime, people behind the scenes ensure there is some private rooms but the vast majority of tourists, of this 15 million tourists don't go there, they go out in areas where there are no cubans, there is no tipping. there is no chance to buy art work and that sort of stuff. sure, some trickles down but the idea that somehow this is going to bring prosperity to the average cuban is just bunk and there is no evidence again that tourism by all these people from
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other parts of the world who do speak spanish and to engage if they find a cuban to engage with has made any impact on the system so that is what i have been arguing. >> so all of this money would stay in the hands of the castro brothers? >> they own the farce, the cigar shops and the rum. there are some people that are a smaller group every month that tried to do something independent but their rounded up and put in jail for five years for dangerousness. does something trickle down? something does but it is not going to bring democracy to cuba or help the average cuban. >> the gentlelady from california, ms. woolsey is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. sitting here, it sounds like those who oppose travel to cuba are singing an old song. i feel like i am listening to an old record. something that we have all heard
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before and it is fairly comfortable because we can sing along, except it does not fit the 21st century, and that is my opinion that it does not fit. could you tell me general or mr. antunez or mr. peters, do you know what kind of-- is there a difference of opinion between first generation cuban-americans, first-generation cubans and second generation? is it changing? are weed missing the boat here by not paying attention to other opinions? >> congresswoman i think the polling data that various polling firms have done over the years is very clear in the cuban-american community. there was a recent poll that showed 59% of cuban-american support any travel restrictions on all americans so we can all
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travel there freely and when you start to look inside those polled c c that the change is driven, the change towards favoring policies of engagement is driven by greater support for that position among younger cuban-americans in cuban-americans to have the right to more recently. >> respond? >> i would not want to say i'm an expert on the cuban american community. my guess is that our current policy toward cuba is not supported by the u.s. population it is caused this to become isolating in our international community. it is painful to the cuban people and the cuban, the new younger generation does not support it either so i think, i think those who espouse continuing the ban on travel our and isolated group store rooted
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in the past. castro is locked in 59. the u.s. government is locked in 61. we need to move on, engage the cuban people, open diplomatic diplomat station and move them back into the community of nations. >> thank you. i am going to change the subject. we have got are wonderful witness that we are looking at on the video. ms. leiva? what is it? anyway, leiva thank you. let's talk about agriculture, let's talk about farmers. let's talk about what kind of food products the cubans would purchase if we would open up our trade relations, the u.s.-cuba trade relations. >> you can imagine that the cuban government imports of around 80% of their food we
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consume in cuba and mostly from the united states. right now this year, the congress adopted by 36% altogether. why? because they don't have enough money to buy. that means that more money in cuba of would mean that they would be able to buy more food and more goods that they don't have here. this is a society that is not producing. it is incredible how people are lacking everything they need each day. it is a difficult situation but, if we, if people could rent and people could work and sell privately, and if many tourists would come, many people from everywhere the government would not be able to have all the capacities in hotels or
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restaurants and everywhere and this would move people's economy and they would know that this isn't because the cuban government is so wonderful that it has given the possibilities-- but that is because americans have changed the policy because americans are coming. visitors do not intend to bring down the government in anyplace but by getting close to people and by talking, they can no their experiences and besides people open their minds. people feel freer and of course that there is an improvement economically, that would change a lot for the common people in cuba. i think we are talking or some people are talking, with fahmy risbeck, about a society that isn't the one we live in. i know that they do it for the best, that respect for human rights and there would be no
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political prisoners or dissidents that would govern our country, our democracy. >> thank you so much for your patience. >> ms. leiva unfortunately the five minutes has expired so we have to cut this off and go on to the gentleman from california , mr. royce is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. i have a question for ambassador cason endic the to the testimony that you gave. you mentioned the training the cuban hotel employees receive. can you expand on that? >> yes, the people they get to work in the hotels are a minority elite. they have to pass an allegiance test. these jobs are very important jobs people have in a society where few people have a chance to have a steady job. the people that are at those
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hotels in the people that take tourists are trained to answer the questions that tourists will ask them. they are trained to give the regime answers. they are not going to risk their livelihood by answering questions honestly, and so tourists are taken to villages and again, very few of those tourists that are currently going over the last 15 years to cuba are staying in the urban areas in these little family run places. they are staying in hotels where ordinary cubans are not allowed to come in, couldn't command and the whole environment is controlled. the people they deal with are trained people, many of them members of the communist party. >> the reason this is interesting to me is because yesterday morning with their human rights commission meeting here we took testimony from a defector from north korea to explain how the system works in
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north korea and exactly how kim jong dill extracts the wealth from you know, this kind of activity. it is difficult to find one for one example of foreign policy but the idea of opening up cuba for u.s. tourism really reminds me of those that have advocated for north korea. koom gang mountain resort and the hypothesis of course is that ideas like capitalism i guess will be slow the introduced in north koreans and wages garnished by workers there at the resort will trickle down but here is in fact what happened. in fact what happens is that communist party members who were the sons and daughters of the elite are sent to work there. they are adamantly in support of
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the regime and they don't talk to people who go and about any of these ideas anyway so they are kept at arm's length. so, the reality is that you don't reach the population. what you do is you paid money to bolster the intelligence apparatus or in the state or in the case of north korea of. and i think there is an awful lot of wishful thinking. i think they kim jong-il like castro would never do anything to threaten his grip on power, but he doesn't mind running that hotel out there because the workers are so highly screen, they are party members and they don't get paid. the wages go to the state and then the state leads the communist party workers of the vast majority of the money made at this resort is pocketed by the regime for exactly the types purposes that you up called attention to.
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you also mentioned the regime believes it can control tourism. explain that to us. >> the regime has controlled tourism. they are not about to let their survival be at stake by letting the place be flooded by americans. most said the time they are booked solid so there's no room for millions of extra americans to come there. you would have to kick somebody else out of the hotels are raised the prices are something. >> bottom line for the regime, the castro regime has proven very adept at warding off reform for a long time for good you think that a regime would make any reforms that with some of fritz grip on power or duke think it intends for more hard currency so it can continue to expand its intelligence apparatus? >> that regime is not going to do and anything that would undermine their political control especially the a the world to know they don't have the support of the young people. bajis temple believe in the system so that regime is not about to let the large number of
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american tourists wander among the cubans in order to undermine the system. is just not going to happen. the regime's future is at stake. >> in the years of european travel to the island put a dent in the regime's control in your opinion? >> absolutely not. there's not a sign of political reform that has come from any of those 50 million. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> the gentlelady from california ms. lee. >> let me welcome our guests and witnesses and i especially want to create liz antwon-- antunez. let me say to my colleague mr. mack, i want to just mention one point to you as it relates to raise. race is a factor in so many issues both here and in cuba. actually ms. antunez pointed to the facts and let me read you this. i know they regime is content for cuban people and how they show no mercy to those of us who are black so she also raised the
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issue of race which is a good thing to do. now i want to just say you ms. antunez that i share many of your concerns about the lives of cubans and i understand this because as an african-american myself, i remember the days of the united states government jim crow laws, where african-americans could not vote. my father was a lieutenant colonel in the united states army and i remember very vividly being turned away at restaurants and movie theaters. he had his u.s. army uniform on and we were told we were not allowed because we were black. i also remember when i started school, i could not go to public schools because i was black. i also remember, and this is in
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my lifetime, when black people were lynched when they were hung. at remember these things very well. this was not long ago. and we are still here in my own country dealing with discrimination and inequalities, oftentimes with a raise as part of the reason for these inequalities so i had experienced a lot and i understand what you are trying to say. but gatt i can remember-- don't remember many countries refusing their citizens the right to travel to the united states or to engage in an embargo against my country because of these gross human rights violations that i have experienced in many of my colleagues in the african-american community. i believe that african-americans can demonstrate to cubans how
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african-americans have challenged our government for freedom and for equality for could be embargo and the travel ban has kept us, has put this barrier up, has kept us from helping you and for sharing with you power struggles and what we have had to do to fight just for the right to be part of this country, so why wouldn't ending the travel ban be in the best interests of afro-cuban? [speaking spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: i am very happy that this topic has come up and you have addressed it, because my own people in my own family are living through some of the same kinds of things that you've decided. [speaking in spanish] >> translator: and i am thinking specifically of my brother, who because he is black and opposes the regime in our country they have even six dogs on him and it is not something that i am saying. he bears the scars on his body. [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: and i am also thinking of my sister-in-law who was beaten by the political police on the streets of cuba and addressed as black and with other epitaphs in an obscene manner merely because she was defending the rights of one of her fellow citizens. [speaking in spanish] >> i ask unanimous consent for an additional minute because of the time taken. >> mr. chairman of fica just say that your wonderful translator but i believe the first part of resentence would say i don't have to rely on memories and on recollections. it is something that i live with every day. >> may i reclaim my time mr. chairman? >> it is your time. >> this is something we continue to live with every day also
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congresswoman ileana ros-lehtinen so just understand, the point is i don't remember and i don't see many countries not allowing their citizens the right to travel to america because we still have so many violations of human rights here in our own country. [applause] >> i am not part of the first crab. i just want to clarify more accurately what she had said. [speaking spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> the time of the gentlelady has expired. i will give the translator time to translate the answer. >> translator: i am speaking about the fact that i've gleaned from my own life experiences and i would like to say i am sure the american tourism would actually be fatal for us in this space we have one to rare non-violent activism not because they don't want something good for my country but because i don't need to go on the internet to notes dfx of repression that would come about as a consequence of this policy. >> the gentlelady has expired. the gentleman from new jersey. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. let me just point out, congresswoman lee among others were allowed to meet with the kester brothers and some of for delegation were effusive in their praise for those two individuals. i know that berta antunez tried
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to give you a better and i'm not sure ms. lee whether not you try to visit him. he was on a hunger strike at the time, a hunger strike on behalf of human rights into the best of my knowledge and did not visit with him when you were there. >> one to yield? >> i will yield at the end. i lung with frank wealth had tried to get to cuba to visit with political prisoners and to visit with people like the great antunez. we have been turned down every time because frank wolf and i want to raise prisoners of conscience, we have been in gulags in china, gulags and indonesia, gulags and the soviet union including the infamous 35 which is where natan shcharansky has spent his time. in the late 1980's he got to the human rights commission, a weak organization, to focus and bring scrutiny to the prisoners in the gulags. they sent a fact-finding team.
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since then the international committee for the red cross has been denied. there was a travel ban on the icrc going to cuba and going to the presence. there is a travel ban on the human rights-- from the united nations and that mandate has ended but there was a travel ban on his investigations. i would ask the general mccaffrey have you ever ask kester to permit the icrc to visit cuban political prisoners? what specific individuals have you raised with fidel castro and others in the government? have you left him to lead you to visit those prisoners of conscience yourself? i don't have access. those of us to raise the issue can't even get in the door and you certainly could do an enormous amount of good on that. yesterday the superintendent of the new jersey state police said every law enforcement officer in new jersey wants cop killer joanne chas tomorrow return to
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prison in new jersey. she brutally gunned down an officer in east brunswick on the new jersey turnpike and then later way to cuba where she lives in the lap of luxury. i would also ask you finally before my time runs out i mentioned earlier in 2001 i got legislation passed in the house the died in the senate as so many things i hear related to human rights over there that calls for to conditions, a modest minimalist conditions for lifting the travel ban. one release the political prisoners because they are being tortured as we meet here today and secondly, allow us to get back to the almost 80 individuals who have committed felons and now they are living in cuba in a safe harbor. general if you could, colonel fuentes is the new date officer who made a strong and compelling case yesterday as he and law
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enforcement people do. have you raised that case? >> let me say you want to be proud of their work in this area and i certainly endorse entirely your viewpoint. i think the notion that there is a totalitarian government in cuba of greif repression, lack of freedom of unionization, freedom of speech is on the arguable and i personally have raised with both fidel and not for two hours, i actually had seven hours with him that this was a major point of u.s. foreign policy to try to reduce the perceptions throughout the global community that they are a repressive totalitarian regime and i've also raise the same point with the cuban ambassadorial that that is the easiest thing they could do is drop their repressive imprisonment of these dissidents. i share your viewpoint. >> general would you help me in frank will give into cuba?
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>> if there is an immodest contribution i in may, have great admiration for frank wolf. >> we would like to know as early as december, again make the attempt to go to the prison? >> i would think that would have great leverage but anything i can do would be of your service. >> would you? >> i don't think i have any leverage either but i am happy to work with you. your staff contacted me months ago and i told them i am happy to work with them and i am happy to work with you. i am from new jersey too as you know. understand what you are saying about joanne and of course she should be returned. >> have you raised it with government officials? >> no i have not raised that with government officials. >> why not? >> i will tell you what i have done. i raised the issue of human rights with them in the past and every single time i have gone with the congressional delegation nine practice say the group have raised the issue including specific names.
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>> the time of the gentleman has expired and the gentleman from american samoa, mr. tallil maffei got is recognized for five minutes and that will be the last person i will recognize and let me just interject here, if anyone else is prepared to come back right after these two boats we will continue the hearing a samming our witnesses don't pass out. one wants to come back, two-- can do witnesses stay? >> i have got it plain the lead set 3:00. >> and bester cannot stay. mr. sosa can stay. the general can stay. mr. peters can stay. ms. antunez can you stay? ms. leiva can you spend another 45 minutes of we can finish the hearing?
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okay, the gentleman from american samoa is recognized for five minutes. >> i think of the witnesses for the most eloquent statement. i think at the height of the cold war when we talk about the cuban missile crisis, the bay of pigs, this is become a very not only an emotional issue for our country but at that time national security seems to be the number one issue in the minds of our leaders at the time of the cuban missile crisis and i would like to ask the general mccaffrey, you mentioned cuba is no longer really a threat to our national security given your wealth of experience not only has a military flight officer but certainly someone who was worked on national-security issues. can you elaborate on that a little bit more? >> i really missed it.
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national security issues, certainly we have lost a cuban government and in internally repressive regime and in the past of have a history of confronting u.s. foreign policy issues. he still, castro has lied to chavez right now and it is causing many problems in venezuela. having said that our national security concerns oriented the rounded dozen different threats. some of them are hugely important to us and they don't include cuba. my own view is that the reason we have to worry about cuba, i fear the wen castro passes way and i'm confident he will we see the unraveling of this repression of reseen. we are going to end up with millions of cubans seeking freedom, fleeing the island so i've looked at the national guard the y will be talking to tomorrow night and others as having a huge challenge in the coming years, how do we deal
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with the humanitarian disaster if we are not engaged with the cubans now? i want to know who the 45 durell czar that are going to run the government. i want to see is engage militarily, diplomatically to try to bring these people lot of their isolation. >> i know that my travel to cuba i had to go to cancun to get some kind of a special be set in order to get to havana. i want to ask mr. peters a question and they quote an interesting statement he made, investors from all over the world operate joint ventures in cuba. spanish companies want to drill oil in the waters. venezuela pays over a billion dollars a year for the service of cuban doctors and other workers. iran extended cuba $445 million in credits in november of this year. brazil extended a 1 billion-dollar line of credit last year. funds are being used for road
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developments and other projects. china has extended a 600 million-dollar line of credit to cuba in september of this year including a 260 million-dollar for grain purchases. a very interesting comment in terms of the economic situation, the economic sanctions. in your opinion to think the basis of our involvement with cuba first as it was in the early part of the last 50 years was national security? now, and you were looking at the economic conditions for good to you really think that this really has its bases on how things may change in the future if castro should depart from this earth in the coming period? >> congressman the point i was making in that passage was that we often think because we have sanctions against cuba that the cuban economy is on the brink or we are squeezing them some help.
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that is not the case. the economic situation there is not good but is all those facts indicated and as others do they are not isolated. they are engaged with the rest of the world than whether we like it or not that economy is not teetering. more importantly the purpose of our sanctions, are sanctions have never had the effect and the economic troubles they have experience than they have been very severe and they see more severe than they were last year, have never put the power of the government's on the line, and so there is no politically decisive impact in our sanctions. it does not make the difference between the communist government surviving with a communist government not surviving. >> unfortunately my time is short. there is just not enough to ask more questions. thank you mr. chairman. >> the time has expired. we have to those which means this will be much quicker than the last round.
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we will faux denbigh back in about 15 minutes maximum i think and if you can stay great, ndfu. we hope as many of you can well and hopefully the members who want u.s. questions to be back right away because of know when this year we will just adjourn it, so with that, the committee is recessed. [inaudible conversations] >> okay, we are smaller but more
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robust. the gentleman from new york, mr. meeks, is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for staying. this has been a crazy and is the day and i know that this issue is a very emotional issue, and unfortunately boone emotions are involved, sometimes logic staats , and so i just want to say that it has been a long time since we have had a different policy in cuba and when i think about the whole situation, one of the reasons why, and people talk about national security etc. it was initially the alliance between cuba and russia, yet we never put a ban on traveling to russia and we
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always said conversation with the russian government's, and now we even are working with them in the g-20 and other places, and it seems as though when cuba was a threat to the united states, it was only because of russia and the missile crisis, not because of cuba in and of itself so i don't see where cuba is a threat to the united states of america at all at this particular point. that being said, that me just ask ms. antunez, recently the president of the united states and that all restrictions on travel by cuba, to cuba by cuban-americans and i was wondering whether or not you believe that such travel should be prohibited or whether cubans
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should be free to go to cuba? >> translator: i am sorry, could you repeat the last part of their question? >> whether knots such travel by cubans to cuba, should that be prohibited or should cubans to cuba be allowed? cuban-americans. [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: in the first place in the tourism, anything that will bring additional means to the cuban regime of continuing its repression of strengthening itself and keeping its hold on the power, and the thing that would do that is not convenient for the cuban people. >> that is not my question. my question is did she think it is okay for cuban-americans to be able to go visit cuba? [speaking spanish] [speaking in spanish]
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>> translator: i would like to say i think at this time it is correct to maintain the policy that the u.s. government has maintained during all of these years. excuse me. has maintained all of these years allowing the real cuban people who are suffering to win space for themselves through non-violent activism and that they would visit an uninhabited flow of people bearing resources for the regime were to come to cuba. >> that is not answering my question. my question was a simple question of whether cuban-american should be visiting cuba, where their family ties. that is the essence of my question. it is not a complicated question at all. >> no. >> no. >> thank you. finally. >> 13 seconds.
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>> 13 seconds? let me end with this. i wish i had time to ask questions. i will say this. in the words-- >> she did not understand your question congressman, i am sorry. >> i don't have much time. i'm just going to end. in the words of the president that i did not agree much with, our president said civilized people everywhere have a stake in keeping contact, communication and creativity is broad, deep and free as possible. the way governments can best promote contacts among people is by not standing in their way. that president was ronald reagan. >> the time of the gentleman has expired and the gentleman from indiana, mr. berman is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman. there are a number of reasons why i am opposed to this move,
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and rather than ask a bunch of questions because some of the questions i wanted to address were too general mccaffrey and ambassador cason but when an american hotel or company down there pays their employees the money goes to the government and if they make $400 a month, that is reduced by 26 times because the currency they have down there is worth 126th of a dollar and these people can't go and swim in the pools or run around these hotels and have the freedom that you would expect them to have because they are under the boot of the castro regime. castro is working with chavez. chavez is supplying money now.
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chavez once to revolutionize south america and he is one of the compatriots with the castro brothers, and they want to turn that into a communist region and refers to everything that ronald reagan was able to get accomplished when he was president. if you drive a cab, if you work in a gas station or a restaurant you were prevented and once again, you get those jobs only after the prevents it has taken place in you get about 126th of what you earn it is paid in american dollars. there is no limitation that i know of on humanitarian aid or food. i have heard several people testified today that they don't get enough food, that we are stopping it. i talked to supermarket chain in my district, and they were telling me how they are selling food to cuba on a regular basis and there are no restrictions
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and humanitarian aid i know is not being restricted. one of the things the kgb todd castro early on in his administration down there, if you want to call it that, the way to keep control of the people is to have somebody that is a spy or whatever you want to call it, every three or four blocks and if someone complains about what is going on the reported to the authorities and then of course the person that is accused of that suffers the end result. you know you talk about travel to keele but changing things. as i recall and i was talking to ms. ileana ros-lehtinen our ranking republican terrain the carter administration there were no restrictions whatsoever and the repression under the castro regime was just as severe as it is today. people were thrown into the gulags. i think armando was thrown in jail at that particular time and everybody who thinks we ought to
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start working with the castro brothers should read his book. it is called against all hope then it is a clear depiction of what people go through if they are a person that disagrees with the administration down there and is thrown into the gulag. it is just horrible what they have to go through. you know i was going to ask general mccaffrey, he was asked by mr. smith, did you ever tried to get into the prisons and mr. mccaffrey never answered that question. i think the question was also asked of you, and after i finish my remarks i would like for you to answer that, have you ever ask to go in and seek political prisoners and itself were you allowed to go in and see the political prisoners and if you didn't ask to go in and see them, i would like to know why do you didn't because that is one of the major things we have been concerned about for a long time.
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.. why didn't you ask -- >> and every single time i have gone to the congressional delegation i'm proud to say that the delegation has advocated in favor of human rights including specifically. >> why didn't you ask to go in and see the political prisoners?
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>> i've talked to dissidence -- >> the time of the gentleman -- >> -- on many occasions. >> the time of the gentleman is expired. i do want to remind everyone there is a hearing that is scheduled by the subcommittee on middle east and south asia, and i will recognize the gentlelady from texas, ms. sheila jackson lee for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i thank you and ms. ros-lehtinen for allowing members to come back and for completing this hearing. it's a very important hearing and i want to thank the other witnesses and their absence and those who are able to stay. i want to applaud president obama that took the constructive step of allowing cuban-americans to visit family in cuba as often as they please. i think it is a magnificent stat and mr. peters, i think you acknowledged that is a policy change that is productive. i started my opening remarks by suggesting that i was engaged because of my committee assignment with the allin and
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gonzalez issue or circumstance, and i believe it was right on both sides, but i think we were right to unite this child up that time with his family in cuba but i also think it's important for his miami family to be able to see and to interact with their family. i believe my colleague articulated the tribulations and the challenges of african-americans in this country. as i understand, mr. delahunt's legislation which i co-sponsored and support and hope i have done so and think it is an important policy change there is no ban. we have focused on tourism but frankly academicians, activists, human rights activists, individuals who wish to engage in promoting the collaboration with afro-cuban on pressing for their rights, all of those
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individuals like a understand if this was to ever become law wouldn't be banned. the question of course would be held cuba receive that. so my point of questions go to the fact that i believe we should have a quid pro quo. we are stifled and many reasons. our policy is we don't speak to them. we don't travel there. and frankly that was the policy of china. there are some of us still fighting the human rights abuses in china, but we just had the encounter of our head of state visiting and asia and so we are multitask and i think in cuba we should be multitask, and that is engaged but also assess, critique, persist, and to those who are in this audience who have been incarcerated, no, we are not abandoning your pain. we understand the pain of incarceration and oppression. for those of us who watched the quarter of south africa we know
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what it was like to see people of our, if he will, can ship be so treated. but look at the relationship south africa today. so i ask you a question about this effectively if you would. you said just conditioning the u.s. policy to actions taken by the cuban government puts control of our foreign policy in the hands of the cubin. just a quick question because my time is going quick. do you think should be a bilaterally multitask approach, eliminate the travel ban that the same time be engaged for eight response or concession by the cuban government, yes or no? >> eliminating the tribal and should be unilateral. it's an existential threat to the cuban government. the embargo on the other hand, lifting that embargo what require some concessions in my opinion particularly on the human rights site, and i would not be in favor -- >> so we should be multitask,
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the travel ban should be lifted but we should be engaging on what we think would be effective in a policy change as it relates to the embargo or other issues and putting him right; is that correct? thank you. let me speak to mrs. antunez. mrs. antunez, could we be of help? you may have heard of the naacp, the urban league which is a national activist civil rights group that african-americans have in essence found opportunities. he may have heard of dr. martin luther king, who obviously has passed. with this kind of effort and energy in helping afro-cuban speed received warmly not bite you and our friends in cuba particularly the afro-cuban? >> [speaking in spanish]
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[speaking in spanish] >> translator: well, if i understood your question correctly, yes, there would be good. i actually tried to do this on a prior occasion. i tried to ask help for the people of cuba to read on this occasion i brought a letter from my brother to the congressional black caucus who traveled to cuba. i wanted to try to meet with you so that i could explain to you the situation in cuba. >> well i think this hearing, mr. chairman, if i may finish i think this hearing is almost finished if you have a letter i will stand by to the end of this hearing and receive your letter, because i think american influence through the end of the travel ban would be of assistance to all cubans, including afro-cuban is. i am prepared to engage with you. >> the time of the gentlelady
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has expired. >> [speaking in spanish] [speaking in spanish] >> the time has expired. why don't you translate that. >> i don't have the letter with me now. i brought a letter in april directed to the members of the black caucus in cuba at the time when my people specifically my brother were suffering of in health and also from political repression. they were in very bad circumstances, and that letter wasn't received at that time. >> take the help when it's
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offered, and it's offered today. thanks very much. >> mr. chairman? >> ranking member. >> there are a lot of folks from lifting the ban group here and they've got their stickers and, thank you for being with us. and i also want to point out, i just want to say thank you to the ex political prisoners from cuba who are now residing in new jersey also for coming over here. thank you so much. this is democracy at work. thank you. >> just in closing the hearing i want to first thank the ranking member for her cooperation. this was a vigorous and fascinating exchange of views, and our witnesses were very helpful, the ones who remain at the ones who had to leave. i think it was a great example of democracy and and action and clash of views and ideas, and one thing i think the entire kennedy shares is a desire that
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one day in cuba that kind of peaceful clash of ideas can be expressed in the political system in cuba. >> mr. chairman -- [applause] >> mr. chairman? >> the gentleman from massachusetts. >> i don't want to give you the last word. [laughter] but there has been, if the chair would indulge me for a moment, the chair has been asked of various individuals when they go to cuba do they ask to see political prisoners. i want this to be noted for the record that my first trip to cuba occurred in 1988 as part of a human rights project. at that point in time, we asked and requested a meeting with a group of prisoners who identified themselves as
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[speaking in spanish] i have a sense that some of them are here today. let me just suggest this: we did press the government after that is visit, and i certainly am not taking credit for it, but i am aware that approximately nine months to a year later they were released. sometimes, we don't know, good things can happen if we continue to press. and i have them on trips with mr. peters. i can assure you that in every single location we have pressed -- we've met with dissidents. miriam leiva and antunez are friends of mine and i know the
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pain and suffering. i say this to everyone in the audience today, we'll understand. >> mr. chairman, would you indulge me just a moment? >> i get the last word. [laughter] >> i want you to have the last word so would you yield just a brief moment? i would appreciate it. >> [inaudible] >> and i will yield back, mr. chairman. i indicated to my dear sister, ms. antunez, that help is here and take advantage of it. let me, not having been present in april, let me convey at least the openness of all members of congress, including the congressional black caucus, to the issues of oppressed people. and i do want to stay behind in all sincerity either to receive information or to be able to reach back to you because if we are nothing in this country we are people who fight against oppression, and we are willing to fight against oppression on your behalf. i yield back to you, mr. chairman. >> thank you.
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now a hearing on another form of oppression against religious freedom is going to take place by the subcommittee on middle east and south asia i believe, and with that, thank you all, and the hearing is adjourned. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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on this vote to the nays or 60, nays car 39, 3/5 of the kennedy beat the senators voting in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. >> with that vote the senate moves its health care bill to
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the floor. live starting monday and through december follow every minute of the dna and how the bill would affect access to medical care. the public auction, taxes, abortion, and medicare. on the only network that brings you the senate gavel-to-gavel, c-span2. nigeria's oil minister today said now is not the time for opec to increase production because the global economy is still weak and. these remarks came at an event hosted by the u.s. energy association. this is almost 50 minutes. >> i'm barry weddington, executive director of united states energy association and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the new speaker with dr. lukman, the minister of petroleum resources for the federal public of nigeria. i must also welcome c-span for covering our event this morning. dr. lukman is one of the most respected energy experts, we'll
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and gas experts anywhere in the world. a few of his appointments have included serving as secretary general of opec for six years, serving as president of opec for nine sessions, especially adviser to the minister of -- to the president of nigeria for oil and gas, minister of foreign affairs, minister of mines, founder and chairman of the african petroleum producers association. our newsmaker session this morning is on the record, and the way we will proceed is that dr. lukman will make some remarks and then we will have time for questions and answers and try to be done and finished by 12:00. i will also like to thank bp as our sponsor of the usea newsmaker series, and with no further ado, please join me in welcoming dr. lukman, the minister of petroleum resources of nigeria.
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[applause] >> thank you very much for your generous introduction. i'm very happy to be with you this -- it's still morning, no? its morning. we are a bit disoriented, just jet lag, but nevertheless, i thank you for offering me and my team this opportunity. i would like to introduce my colleague, the president's allies on the petroleum matters. we have hamed from the embassy. my assistant, and -- oh, you
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were hiding. from nnpc, the secretary of oil and gas reform committee and the good lady from nta, and of course the assistant of the doctor. i don't know what he would like to talk about. i suppose you want to talk about energy generally in the oil in particular but maybe i should tell you why we are here in washington. we came specifically to meet up with the world bank. as you know in nigeria we undertake a very important exercise in trying to reform our
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oil and gas industry, which exercises in our view long overdue. and the idea is to restructure the industry and put it on even keel and make it more consistent with international practices, and one of the major ingredients of this exercise is to create a more robust national oil company that would exist in nnpc, national nigerian petroleum corporation that will operate purely commercial undertaking distinct from the role that it has played in the past which is rather confusing because it involved regulatory matters as well as policy in addition to being responsible for commercial operation of national oil and
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gas company. , as you know nigeria is very well endowed with the petroleum resources, oil and gas, we are number one post in oil and gas. in the moment we have proven reserves around 37 or so billion barrels of oil in the ground and have the capacity to produce about 3.5, 3.6 million barrels per day the reserve for estimated 187 trillion cubic feet, and we have of course members of opec, organization we joined in 1975.
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we very much are interested in developing our resources which have been exploited in the past largely because we recognize that gas is a future energy carrier that is when to be very important, and quite apart from the fact our resources and gas, or equivalent resource in oil, so some people have even argued that we are more of a gas country dan oil country because the gas we are developing is associated gas. we haven't gone out of our way to deliberately explore for gas and as such, and we believe if we do explore we will find a lot more gas than we have right now.
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we are a very keen a member of the organization of petroleum exporting countries, to which we, along with 13, 14 other countries have tried to play our part in the international oil market by attempting to moderate oil prices and ply in supply and demand to the confederation of international economy. we of course have i think mistakenly or wrongfully been accused of being a cartel, which we are not because no cartel behavior slight opec. increasing production when prices go haughey and reducing production line the prices go flow in order to moderate the
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international market for the benefit of both producers and consumers. america is united states is one of our major trading partners as far as oil and gas is concerned. we supply a substantial part for the united states. of course a lot of oil also goes to europe, half and half, europe and north america and some of it finds its way to the far east through the arrangements. we believe that the current market situation is one that international economy still in the process of recovering, and until it is fully recovered we
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have to be careful how much will be put in the market because if we are careful we could drive the prices very low like they went as low as $30 a barrel at the height of the economic problems of the world experienced in the past year or so. we were hopeful that the economy would continue in which case may be to produce and export more. we have an insured you have heard about our recent problems in the niger delta that resulted in serious dimunation of capacity to produce their urge to wheel and gas infrastructure
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but with the recent fortunate occurrence of the amnesty we are hoping that we will be able to repair and put back some of the infrastructure that has been damaged in the insurgency. but this would take time and be that as it may, we are hoping that we should be able to resume growth of our oil and gas industry to the greater benefit of people. oil is for us very important aspect of the national economy. we are heavily dependent of our export earnings, 90% of the foreign exchange comes from oil. substantial part of the government revenue, very high
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percentage more than 80, 90% comes from oil. it is extremely important for the country. we are trying through various programs and devices to diversify the basic national economies of that we will eventually be less dependent on oil and gas. within the oil and gas industry we are diversifying variously through downstream and midstream activities of finding things like chemical and we are very much involved in as i said earlier the development of gas resources to apply a number of countries through the west african gas pipeline. we have major energy project
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already in production. we have to new energies and very importantly proposed a project that would deliver hopefully nigerian gas to the military and nigeria, and we are also course internationally speaking very active member of the association of petroleum producing countries in africa. through which we try to coordinate policies and activities of the african producers of petroleum like we do in opec, coordinating member countries policies and
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approaches so that the oil industry can play a real meaningful part in the development of an evolution of the international economy. i could go on and on and on if you let me but perhaps it would be more appropriate if people have questions they want us to address was that time more easily on subjects that interest you the most did for me to ramble on and on and on. >> thank you. [applause] >> if you could please identify yourself and your news organization. >> dow jones newswires. thank you for taking the time. you said that the current market situation needed to be handled delicately and opec needed to take care and how much oil is put into the market.
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are you seeing that -- can you expand on exactly what you mean on that or are you talking about having oil prices go too high for the economic recession? so, and in white of that can you indicate what opec -- when you will be recommending opec be doing in angola in december? >> what i meant is that from our calculations and computations the international economy is still in the process of recovering from what happened a year or so ago and would be foolhardy for us to assume that this international economy is out of the board's and stop pumping oil without hindrance. we know the prices have risen
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from their lowest level of $30 per barrel to around 70, 80 now but the indication is that stock level isn't that they are not low enough and we are just going into the winter season so we have to be careful to see that we don't on balance the market by pumping too much oil. on the other hand, we are anxious that the international economy should have as much oil as it can consume to fire the economy. so there is a question of balancing. as to what are we going to do and next month i don't know.
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i think from experience what opec does is to look at the whole picture, the whole situation at the time of the meeting and then take the best judgment decision, the market is falling and the data that is available, and in this particular case a month is a long time. anything can happen between now and a month time. >> [inaudible] >> my recommendation will depend on the facts of the time of the meeting. >> yes, my first question, two-part question, one is regarding the talks regarding china, national oil company and there is concern among other operators what this will entail. another one is other countries, oil producing national oil producing countries have been diversifying in various fields, chemicals, refineries. is nigeria looking at doing that?
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will you have a lot of refinery for sale in the united states? there's a lot of chemical assets also in europe, also as part of your plan to bring oil to nigeria, europe, and expand your export market. >> the exercise will involve a lot of the things you have mentioned. nnpc when it is properly put in place will be expected to go international like the other international oil companies have done in investing and oil exploration and production of oil and gas outside the national borders. but also getting involved in the downstream activities of the various types including the petrochemical stations, anything that will make its presence in the international arena more complete.
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of course you mentioned we very much president of nigeria are trying to look for opportunities and possibilities of participating in the oil and gas industry like other people are doing and we welcome the participation by other people. we are very well endowed with western companies, exxonmobil, negative -- shell and participants to balance the equation as it were. >> welcome. my name is [inaudible] from blease of america. i have two questions. recently the military of the niger delta of stated that the region is now stable. would that be an assessment also
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that from the economic point of view is stable enough to do business with and the oil firms and others are doing business in that part of the world can continue to do so without any seller because similar previous concerns they had? that's one. the second is to do with refineries in nigeria. where are we in terms of facing the refineries in nigeria? thank you. >> well, the niger delta story of course has been a long one and very painful one as a country. and we are very delighted the amnesty that the president has put forth as working, and the major insurgent groups have agreed to lay down arms and the government is in the process of restating the former militants and we integrating them into the
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society and there is a hope that this arrangement will hold and develop eventually into a more center situation in the niger delta in which case the investments will continue both from the national oil company and joint partners and those are newcomers to continue to grow oil and gas industry and a more peaceful atmosphere. the refineries are very disheartening because up until now we are talking to or three oil refineries not functioning, why, because the facilities that are supposed to deliver crude oil to these refineries have been badly vandalized, and nnpc and the government are in the process of trying to repair
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those damages to enable us to deliver to the refineries and when that is done of course we are hoping that we will resume production. unfortunately we haven't managed to refineries as well as we should have done in the past. we have not for instance been tamed therefore when there were the stages of levitation which is to be corrected through the turnaround instituted because of a long period of neglect i personally don't think it will be able to perform up to sketch of the first goal when we start them up again but we will have to ensure they perform a lot better than they have done in the past because we are as you
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are probably aware trying to be regulated the downstream of the oil and gas industry because it has been costing the government quite a lot in subsidy and quite apart from not enabling the citizens to benefit from this subsidy regime. so, we need to remove the subsidy not only to enable our own refineries to perform better because they are quite set to recruit from the government international price and they are not able to sell to their regulated the -- the sense of deregulation is to enable the private to invest in refining which they have not been able to do because nobody in their right mind would invest money and
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produce products and sell that at a loss, so the subsidy we hope will help enable more people to build refineries and in the government itself it would allow them to make more refineries. our estimate is all of the refineries will have work at full capacity. they will not be immediately total national demand so some form will direct continue by building new refineries a little bit on the road and in the meantime has our refineries are doing better than they are doing now. >> energy intelligence group. thank you for being here.
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you mentioned the meeting with the world bank. what is it that the government of nigeria is looking at in terms of its help in restructuring and creating the national oil company with global reach, and also what is the timeframe you talk about it being on going for quite a while and where do we go from here? >> the world bank has had experience in helping other countries like ourselves to restructure the industry. and we believe that we can learn a lot from them. from their experience. and also they have facilities that have done this job before. so, we are looking forward to them assisting us for instance in formulating a government procedure for our incorporated leaders for the national oil
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company and of course the other subsidiaries of the national oil company still would be put in place. the government is one. it can also help with structure and the elephant in such a way to attract the right type of financing so that we don't have to rely on the government to run the operations when we eventually incorporate them. there are many things they can do for us, training capacity etc., etc.. >> is there a template that is other examples of oil companies and other -- >> yes, no shortage of templates. have looked at retro crass and
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stock will and we crafted the bill and the structures we think we put in place on the experience of the other countries but of course we cannot create 100% from what malaysia did or petro, brazil because our own not quite the same as these countries but within the limits of the ability to borrow from other people's experience we have and also to benchmark fiscal so it isn't too harsh or generous. timeframe i feel we need a better part of minimum 12 months, maximum 83, 36 months to put all the reform and the
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structures moving along nicely as we have to give a result enough time to put things right and also put in place procedures and practices and we are talking [inaudible] to draw modus operandi what are we going to do, what procedures do we need to follow when the bill is passed and then with a time frame on the critical part of the areas of the stages, what period of time. >> tom with reuters. thank you for speaking with us today. do you hamed the que mentioned that nigeria's oil production capacity was 3.5 to 3.6 million barrels per day?
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>> yes. >> what is the country's current production level, and do you expect that to rise in 2010? and if so, how much higher do you think it will go the next year? >> well the potential capacity to produce 3.7. in one of the facilities have been damaged, compromised by the insurgency. so our first effort is targeted toward restoring the capacity. how much of it will be produced depends on what the market is calling for. but we should be ready to produce to the maximum if the market calls for it because in any event we want to maximize revenues. the moment is subject like any other but we hope this doesn't last too long because until the
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economy went down there was no quota in place and once the international community covers it is quite possible that the quota will be displaced or removed. but we don't want to, we want to be ready. >> what is nigeria's current production? >> current production? if you include oil and condensation, about 2.5. about 2.5. >> [inaudible] >> crude oil is about 1.7. >> and you're sitting next year you will for about 3.7 million in opec? >> i don't know about next year but certainly it could produce three plight seven. if we repair the same amnesty and peace and quiet in the niger delta i don't know maybe we don't need much more gas
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concern. >> you have an estimate of what could go next year if he were allowed to go that high in terms of production? >> if allowed -- let's say for the sake of argument you could go 500 easy. i'm not saying that we are going to do that. >> but you could. >> we could if we have to, yes. >> by the end of next year. >> your excellency, iran is making the argument that it is such a nuclear energy for energy properties given that nigeria is a situation is there any
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[inaudible] produce nuclear energy? >> the nuclear energy commission is in place and it is the hope that the appropriate time we will go nuclear energy wise and diversify as much as possible. with the wheel and gas, coal, we have solar, it is all in the cut and of course nuclear is not taken out. by the we talking about nuclear we've discovered so we are in a good position eventually to grow the nuclear power generation if we want to go that way. but the lead we want to exhaust, concentrate on getting the basic gas fired coal-fired stations going. but the nuclear option remains available to us if we need to resort to that.
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>> other questions? pure. >> 21st century science and technology magazine. thank you for coming, dr. lukman. did i understand that the government proposes to construct another company alongside the nnpc or to restructure a nnpc or gove? my other question is can you say something about the projects, the multiple projects some of which are being called mega projects being planned for the south, for the delta could have been long demanded by the people in the south? reels, hospitals, those things?
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>> quite a few big project in the niger delta. most of the heat plants are in fact in the niger delta. three out of the four refineries are in the niger delta and on top of that major infrastructure in the power sector, the so-called in the niger delta area. so, and oil and gas production is mainly coming from the niger delta and these are really big projects and the major offshore oil producing facilities in the regime. there is no shortage.
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>> [inaudible] -- political equations whereby you can get amnesty in the south and the insurgents are willing to do that partly because the government commits to building roads and railroads, hospitals and so on. can you say something about the recent developments on that front? >> don't forget amnesty is on the, what, a couple of months old and got governor in addition to what it is already doing don't forget we of the whole minister of niger delta which is specifically [inaudible] we have a commission also specifically for the projects in the niger delta.
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on top of that the state government's involvement at the niger delta are also involved in the various infrastructure bill. what we are trying to do under the amnesty is very important, the government has to help to do is rehabilitates the former militants by creating job opportunities through building roads, building schools, hospitals and training the people, retraining them to do more developmental aspects. trained in for mundane things like electricians, carpenters, welders on the wheel and gas industry, many of these areas. but we have to train them first. somebody running around in the jungle carrying firearms and we
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make a useful trait that he can deploy in the areas of the the government is instituting the niger delta. if we don't succeed in doing that we won't be able to keep them out the triet [inaudible] this a very important aspect of the government is trying to do. >> can you clarify what changes are being made that would allow nnpc -- >> nnpc is now a public corporation. what we want to do is incorporate nnpc under the corporate law said that it will be a company of its own right, independent of government to get the shareholder will be under the government of nigeria and
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shared to the private-sector and we want to make sure that nnpc operates as a commercial entity. as i said earlier nnpc has been required to be concerned with policy, regulation, all sorts of things that are not really commercial land very confusing and the government's is difficult because we don't have a clearcut mandate. oil and gas company like petro grass, to do nothing but oil and gas. this means completely reorienting the organization from what is now. but we will call with nnpc because we maintain the acronym but it's very well-known and nigerian national petroleum
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corporation company limited. >> thank you, minister. can i ask you to clarify, you said nigeria could increase its capacity to produce crude by 500,000 barrels a day next year. can you clarify what your current output capacity is? i thought he said 3.5 to 3.6, confused about the exact levels and then will nigeria pump above its crude levels to make up for lost while from the civil unrest? >> i thought he would ask that. it's nothing to be confused. we say we are potentially -- potentially we should be able to produce 3.5, 3.6, or 3.7 million barrels but we have the capacity.
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part of this capacity has been compromised through the militancy and vandalism. i said to you that now that we have peace because when the militancy was going on we couldn't go to some of these places to repair. people are being kidnapped and all sorts of funny things are happening. now that there is peace we are able to go to those facilities, check them out and try to put them back in the form that they can operate. whether we operate them or not depends on how much oil we want to sell. as we are talking now, at this very moment five to 600 barrels, about 1.7, 1.8 million barrels of crude oil developing. it's about 2.5 million barrels a day. it has been weeks since we left
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home to you know what we are doing right now? >> [inaudible] >> so, it changes. but the fact that we can produce eventually 3.7 million barrels [inaudible] it would be against our commitment to moderate production. we stand to lose more than anybody else is the price collapse so we have a vested interest in maintaining the good price by pumping 3.5 million barrels a day unless if we only want to .5. >> we can take one more question. >> mr. minister you sit on the possible privatization of the passes in nigeria. do you have a timeframe for such
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an asset sale and have you picked in a privatization advisor, what kind of revenues could you see coming from that? and just in general and have you already had expression of interest from other players on the sector? >> privatization from some of the operational nnpc and our view previously was misconceived because the idea you have to privatize everything that is owned by the government is really nonsense because if we are going to grow nnpc into a world-class oil and gas company there is no way you can exclude them from any part of the oil and gas chain. so, we have no problem with privatization. we have got energy is a good example of private public partnership and we are
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developing right now a model for the refineries, and also refineries built by nnpc so that would be private participation. we would have to work it out and talking about advisers, the republic enterprises have lots of advisers in fact they went too far. they sold some of the refineries i won't say for nothing, but gave them away for pennies and went to call them back and said come on this is not what we should be doing. and eventually what we do prioritize we do it directly and get good value for them. you've been to nigeria? >> no. >> you should, let us know when you come and we will take you and show you around the
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refineries. [inaudible] we have allowed them to go. i have commissioned the refinery for instance -- when we built it is one of the dustin the world, and africa. of course we haven't run them as well when we eventually privatize i don't know how good extent maybe 60%, maybe 40%, but we will allow private sector enterprises. and the new ones we are building will definitely be the public and private partnership. >> one last comment and then we will be done. >> today you spoke, you have expressed concern about making sure opec doesn't put too much oil in the markets, which could
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lower prices and you talked about how the global economy is still recovering. and here in the u.s. just today the government revised down the economic growth of america and the consumer of oil and import a lot. given that the economy in the u.s. and globally is still going to be recovering, not there, at least in the first quarter of next year do you see the need at this point given what is likely to happen economically in the first quarter that there would be the need for additional oil supply from opec to meet the demand in the first quarter globally? >> well, we have a very robust recession with opec in my view very good work. and the moment we are not looking to the united states or europe for the incremental demand. we are looking more


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