Cuban leaders are working with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson to pass a bill ending the United States travel and agricultural export embargos against their country. Seventy-four prominent Cuban political dissidents have endorsed this legislation because they believe it will help alleviate hunger in their country and assist with human rights issues. These pro-democracy Cuban leaders have expressed their belief that an increased presence from United States citizens could help facilitate a potential future transition to a democratic state, a change that is greatly desired by many Cubans. The United States has imposed different levels of travel and trade embargos against Cuba since the 1960s when Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
The current US embargos have been criticized because of Cuba’s dire need for additional food, medicine, and clean water. Cuban dissidents have stated that easing restrictions on agricultural imports from the United States would have an enormous impact on food shortages suffered in their country. Some Republican members of the House Agriculture Committee oppose this bill because they believe assistance to Cuba and increased income from tourism and travel will actually assist Castro’s government. A recent poll done in the United States indicates that 40% of Americans are in favor of ending the embargo.