This petition will be delivered to: Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

You oppose our right to visit Cuba, but let your staffers visit China at China’s expense! End the double-standard by supporting all travel to Cuba or paying China back for your staffers’ trips.

We started this petition at an important moment for making bold changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba – changes like ending the restrictions on the rights of all Americans to travel to Cuba.

This is why we are again calling attention to the report by the Tampa Bay Times that Sally Canfield, Deputy Chief of Staff to Rubio, and Arthur Estopinan, Chief of Staff to Ros-Lehtinen, visited China on a Congressional staff trip run by the U.S.-Asia Institute, but funded by China’s government.

Senator Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are two of the biggest opponents in Congress to lifting the travel ban and changing U.S. policy.

Both Congressional offices confirmed the accuracy of the Tampa Bay Times’ story.   Although Senator Rubio and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen both criticize the Chinese and Cuban governments for their human rights practices, neither has explained why they support travel to China by their staffs, but oppose travel by Americans who wish to visit Cuba, or even how they distinguish between conditions in China and Cuba.

Senator Rubio and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen ought to address their double-standards. If they support travel to countries like China, they should end the ban on U.S. citizens visiting Cuba. And if they won’t support our right to visit Cuba freely, then they should pay the Chinese government back for the cost of their staffers’ trips: Every. Last. Dime.

We believe that the best way for our country to demonstrate the strength of our democratic values is to practice them ourselves. We also believe, and believe strongly, that U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to visit any country they wish, and exchange information and ideas with people of different cultures.

Moreover, the most effective way to overcome our differences with countries like China and Cuba – when we disagree on human rights and a range of political issues – is to promote dialogue and engagement, which you cannot do effectively without supporting two-way travel to both nations.

This petition can make a difference by demonstrating that arguments against engaging with Cuba are inconsistent and do not advance the rights of the Cuban people or the American people.

(From the: Center for Democracy in the Americas)


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