Yarmuth: Cuban embargo has 'not accomplished anything'

01/02/2015 01:29 PM

President Barack Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba has Kentucky’s lone Democratic representative at the federal level both “excited and pleased” with his actions — even if some of his GOP counterparts don’t share his enthusiasm.

In mid December U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth told Pure Politics Obama made the right choice to restore diplomacy with the Cuban government after more than 50 years of frozen relations with the communist island which lies a mere 90-miles from the United States.

“It’s not accomplished anything. It’s hurt the Cuban people,” Yarmuth said.

While it would take full Congressional approval to lift the embargo Yarmuth said the old policy put in place in the 1960’s.

“Our policy makes absolutely no sense. We’re the only ones in the world treating them like this,” Yarmuth said. “If you’re in Cuba you understand that countries from all over the world and companies are…we’re the only ones being shut out of the game.”

“I don’t know whom we’re hurting by this embargo policy and by cutting ourselves off from all this activity.”

Yarmuth visited Cuba in 2011 and he said his experiences there have shaped his view of the country and the effect of the U.S. embargo on the country.

Prominent Republicans in Congress have split on the issue with Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in favor of the move by Obama, while U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, vehemently opposing the move and vowing to block the nomination of an ambassador.

Paul and Rubio are both considering bids for the White House in 2016.

Yarmuth said the opposition could turn ugly in Congress but the transition should be an easy one.

“We don’t need to fund an embassy there. We already have a building there all we have to do is change the name. We have somebody there we could call the acting ambassador,” Yarmuth said. “They could play games with it in the Senate, but ultimately the president should get his way, and he should.”

“We have diplomatic relations with other countries that are every bit as bad an actor with their own people as the Castro’s have been.”

With Paul and Rubio fighting over the actions of Obama in the GOP primary field the move could have an effect on the ever important Hispanic vote in Florida for both parties.

“If I had to bet I would say this slightly advantages Democrats,” Yarmuth said, indicating Cubans traditionally have voted for the GOP but that he said is starting to change.

See what else Yarmuth had to say about Obama and the next Congress starting at 8:30 in the interview above.


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