Suggested Questions for Congressional Hearings on Cuba Policy
The United States and Cuba have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations after more than 50 years. This policy change can only have a positive effect if the United States pushes Cuba for long-overdue political reforms, including the protection of basic human rights and the work of civil society.
The following are suggested questions for the witnesses of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing "Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba" and the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings "Cuba: Assessing the Administration's Sudden Shift" and "Human Rights in Cuba: A Squandered Opportunity."
1. Cuban civil society leaders are demanding a say in U.S. discussions with the Cuban government on the historic opening to the country. How will the U.S. government bring them into the discussions?
2. Some of Cuba's most recognizable advocates of human rights have proposed a roadmap that calls for an overhaul of the repressive penal code, an independent judiciary, and greater respect for the freedoms of expression and association. Will these goals be part of the U.S. negotiations with the Cuban government?
3. What is the U.S. government doing to raise concerns about recent human rights crackdowns in Cuba and to ensure that human rights remain a key part of the conversation with Cuba?
4. Is there consideration of people-to-people exchanges that would bypass official channels and instead encourage visits by independent journalists, religious believers, entrepreneurs, and others?
5. Has the United States enlisted cooperation from other Latin American democracies to press for change in Cuba?
6. Is the U.S. administration prepared to set forth democracy benchmarks as criteria for further changes in its policy toward Cuba?
7. Cuban government leaders have indicated an ambition to emulate the China model of development, whereby the economy takes on many aspects of a free market while the Communist Party retains a strict monopoly on political power. Does the U.S. administration have a strategy to counter this approach?
8. Under the Castros, Cuba has earned notoriety for its dogmatic approach to culture, with books, drama, films, and works of art expected to meet certain ideological standards in order to be publicly performed or viewed. Has the U.S. administration given thought to a strategy to encourage cultural diversity in Cuba?
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.