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Monday, August 27, 2012

El Salvador: Political and Economic Conditions and U.S. Relations


Clare Ribando Seelke
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

The United States has maintained a strong interest in developments in El Salvador, a small Central American country with a population of 6 million. During the 1980s, El Salvador was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America as its government struggled against the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) insurgency during a 12-year civil war. A peace accord negotiated in 1992 brought the war to an end and formally assimilated the FMLN into the political process as a political party. After the peace accords were signed, U.S. involvement shifted toward helping successive Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) governments rebuild democracy and implement market-friendly economic reforms.

In March 2009, Mauricio Funes, a former television journalist and the first FMLN presidential candidate without a guerilla past, defeated Rodrigo Ávila of the conservative ARENA party for a five-year presidential term. His inauguration marked the end of more than 20 years of ARENA rule and the first transfer of political power between parties since the end of El Salvador’s civil war. Funes’ victory followed strong showings by the FMLN in the January 2009 legislative elections. During the first half of his term, President Funes generally pursued moderate policies that enabled him to form cross-party coalitions in the National Assembly, but which caused periodic friction between him and more radical members of his party.

Now in his fourth year in office, President Funes still has high approval ratings (65% in June 2012), but faces a number of serious political, economic and security challenges. Since Funes is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection, his political influence has weakened since ARENA replaced the FMLN as the largest party in the legislature as a result of March 2012 elections and both parties have started focusing on the 2014 presidential contest. Nevertheless, Funes is currently trying to help resolve a standoff between the Salvadoran judiciary and legislature over the composition and power of the Supreme Court. The Funes Administration is also seeking to strengthen El Salvador’s recovery from the 2009 global economic crisis. Although the country received significant support from international donors to support its recovery, economic growth has been inhibited by low productivity, natural disasters that have damaged agricultural crops, and insecurity that has deterred investment. Finally, in an attempt to address the country’s high rate of violent crime, the Funes government endorsed a historic—and risky— truce involving the country’s largest gangs. The truce seems to have resulted in a dramatic reduction in homicides since March 2012.

Maintaining close ties with the United States has been a primary foreign policy goal of successive Salvadoran governments, including the Funes Administration. During a March 2011 visit to El Salvador, President Barack Obama praised Funes’ “courageous work to overcome old divisions in Salvadoran society and to show that progress comes through pragmatism.” Both leaders pledged to work together to boost economic growth in El Salvador through the new Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative and to more effectively ensure citizen security. The PFG commits both governments to work closely together to boost competitiveness in El Salvador and reduce insecurity in the country. U.S. bilateral assistance, which totaled $28.2 million in FY2012, as well as aid provided through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is supporting PFG priorities. El Salvador is the only country in Latin America for which the Administration requested a substantial increase in funding—to $41.8 million—for FY2013. In addition, the MCC has determined that El Salvador is eligible to submit a proposal for a second compact to develop its southern coastal region.



Date of Report: August 13, 2012
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: RS21655
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Latin America and the Caribbean: Fact Sheet on Economic and Social Indicators


Julissa Gomez-Granger
Information Research Specialist

This fact sheet tracks selected economic and social development indicators for Latin American and Caribbean countries. Table 1 and Table 2 illustrate levels of human development throughout the region. Table 3 classifies country economies by income. This fact sheet shows the most recent data available from the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).


Date of Report: August 8, 2012
Number of Pages: 5
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Haiti Under President Martelly: Current Conditions and Congressional Concerns


Maureen Taft-Morales
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Since the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship in 1986, Haiti has struggled to overcome its centuries-long legacy of authoritarianism, extreme poverty, and underdevelopment. During that time, economic and social stability improved considerably, and many analysts believed Haiti was turning a corner toward sustainable development. Unfortunately, Haiti’s development was set back by a massive earthquake in January 2010 that devastated much of the capital of Port-au-Prince and other parts of the country. Poverty remains massive and deep, and economic disparity is wide: Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Haiti is the Obama Administration’s top foreign assistance priority for Latin American and Caribbean countries. Haiti's developmental needs and priorities are many. The Haitian government and the international donor community are implementing a 10-year recovery plan focusing on territorial, economic, social, and institutional rebuilding. An outbreak of cholera that began in late 2010 has swept across most of the country and further complicated assistance efforts after the earthquake. While some progress has been made in developing democratic institutions, they remain weak. Following yet another controversial, sometimes violent election process, Haiti saw its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power between presidents of opposing parties in May 2011. Outgoing President René Préval handed the presidential sash to President Michel Martelly, a popular musician without any previous political experience. Martelly’s administration was without a prime minister for most of his first year in office, hampering reconstruction efforts. Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe assumed his post in May, and visited Washington in July 2012.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been in Haiti to help restore order since the collapse of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government in 2004. MINUSTAH's current strength is 10,773 troops. The mission has helped facilitate elections, conducted campaigns to combat gangs and drug trafficking with the Haitian National Police, and played a key role in emergency responses to natural disasters, especially after the earthquake. Nonetheless, popular protests have called for MINUSTAH’s withdrawal because of allegations regarding its role in introducing cholera to the country and sexual abuse by some of its forces.

The main priorities for U.S. policy regarding Haiti are to strengthen fragile democratic processes, continue to improve security, and promote economic development. Other concerns include the cost and effectiveness of U.S. aid; protecting human rights; combating narcotics, arms, and human trafficking; and alleviating poverty. The Obama Administration granted Temporary Protected Status to Haitians living in the United States at the time of the earthquake.

Congressional concerns include the pace and effectiveness of reconstruction; respect for human rights, particularly for women; counternarcotics efforts; and security issues. Congress is also concerned that overdue Senate and local elections, which the government says will be held by year’s end, be scheduled and be free, fair, and peaceful.

Current law related to Haiti includes P.L. 112-74, P.L. 111-171, P.L. 110-246, and P.L. 109-432. Pending legislation related to Haiti includes H.R. 1016/S. 1576, H.R. 3711, H.R. 3771, H.Res. 510, H.Res. 521/S.Res. 352, S. 1023, S.Res. 26, S.Res. 352, and S.Res. 368. For details see “Legislation in the 112th Congress.”



Date of Report: August 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 26
Order Number: R42559
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence


June S. Beittel
Analyst in Latin American Affairs

Violence has been an inherent feature of the trade in illicit drugs, but the violence generated by Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in recent years has been unprecedented and remarkably brutal. The tactics—including mass killings, the use of torture and dismemberment, and the phenomena of car bombs—have led some analysts to speculate whether the violence has been transformed into something new, perhaps requiring a different set of policy responses. According to government and other data, the best estimates are that there were slightly more than 50,000 homicides related to organized crime from December 2006 through December 2011. Some analysts see in this year’s data about Mexico’s organized crime-related homicides the possibility that the violence may have peaked or reached a plateau, if it has not begun to decline. Many observers maintain that the steep increase in organized crime-related homicides in recent years is likely to trend down far more slowly.

In December 2006, Mexico’s newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderón launched an aggressive campaign against the DTOs—an initiative that has defined his administration—that has been met with a violent response from the DTOs. Of the seven most significant DTOs operating during the first five years of the Calderón Administration, the government successfully removed key leaders from each of them, through arrests or by death in arrest efforts. However, these efforts add to the dynamic of change—consolidation or fragmentation, succession struggles and new competition—that generate more conflict and violence among competing criminal groups. In the last six years, fragments of some of the DTOs have formed new criminal organizations, while two DTOs have become dominant and polarized rivals: the Sinaloa DTO in the western part of the country and Los Zetas in the east. In addition, the DTOs have increasingly diversified into other criminal activities, now posing a multi-faceted organized criminal challenge to governance in Mexico.

U.S. citizens have also been victims of the security crisis in Mexico. In March 2010, three individuals connected to the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juárez, two of them U.S. citizens, were killed by a gang working for one of the major DTOs operating in that city. In February 2011, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were shot, one fatally, allegedly by Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most violent DTOs. In the U.S. Congress, these events have raised concerns about the stability of a strategic partner and neighbor. Congress is also concerned about the possibility of “spillover” violence along the U.S. border and further inland. The 112th Congress has held several hearings on DTO violence, the efforts by the Calderón government to address the situation, and implications of the violence for the United States. Members have maintained close oversight of U.S.-Mexico security cooperation and related bilateral issues.

This report provides background on drug trafficking in Mexico: it identifies the major DTOs; how the organized crime “landscape” has been altered by fragmentation; and analyzes the context, scope, and scale of the violence. It examines current trends of the violence, analyzes prospects for curbing violence in the future, and compares it with violence in Colombia. For background on U.S. policy responses to the security crisis in Mexico, see CRS Report R41349, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond. For a discussion of the problem of violence “spilling over” into the United States, see CRS Report R41075, Southwest Border Violence: Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence. For general background on Mexico, see CRS Report RL32724, Mexico: Issues for Congress.



Date of Report: August 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 47
Order Number: R41576
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Honduran-U.S. Relations


Peter J. Meyer
Analyst in Latin American Affairs

Porfirio Lobo was inaugurated president of Honduras in January 2010, assuming power after seven months of domestic political crisis and international isolation that had resulted from the June 2009 ouster of President Manuel Zelaya. While the strength of Lobo’s National Party in the legislature has enabled his administration to pass much of its policy agenda, Lobo has had limited success in resolving the many challenges facing Honduras. Efforts to foster political reconciliation, for example, have helped Honduras secure international recognition but have only partially diminished domestic polarization. Lobo is relatively unpopular over halfway through his four-year term with 59% of Hondurans disapproving of his performance in office in May 2012.

The poor security and human rights situation in Honduras has continued to deteriorate under President Lobo. Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and common crime remains widespread. Moreover, human rights abuses—which increased significantly in the aftermath of Zelaya’s ouster—have persisted. A number of inter-related factors have likely contributed to this situation, including the increasing presence of organized crime, weak government institutions, and widespread corruption. Although the government has adopted a number of policy reforms designed to address these challenges, conditions have yet to improve.

Lobo also inherited a weak economy with high levels of poverty and inequality. Honduras suffered an economic contraction of 2.1% in 2009 as a result of the combined impact of the global financial crisis and domestic political crisis. Since taking office, Lobo has secured much needed support from the international financial institutions, and has pushed a number of structural reforms through Congress designed to restore macroeconomic stability and strengthen public finances. Despite the government’s tight fiscal policies, the economy grew by 3.7% in 2011 and is expected to grow 4.1% in 2012. In an attempt to improve social conditions, Lobo has begun implementing a new conditional cash transfer program. Considerable development challenges remain, however, as over two-thirds of Honduras’ 7.8 million citizens live in poverty.

Although relations were strained during the political crisis, the United States has traditionally had a close relationship with Honduras. Broad U.S. policy goals in the country include a strengthened democracy with an effective justice system that protects human rights and promotes the rule of law, and the promotion of sustainable economic growth with a more open economy and improved living conditions. To advance these policy objectives, the United States provides Honduras with foreign assistance, maintains significant security and commercial ties, and engages on transnational issues such as migration and human trafficking.

The 112th Congress has expressed considerable interest in Honduras, particularly with regards to the state of democracy, human rights abuses, security challenges, and the treatment of U.S. businesses. In December 2011, Congress adopted the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, P.L. 112-74, which contains a provision requiring the State Department to withhold 20% of the aid appropriated for the Honduran security forces until certain human rights conditions are met. The appropriations committees in both houses of Congress have included similar provisions in their FY2013 appropriations bills for the State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, H.R. 5857 and S. 3241. Additional legislation introduced in June 2011, H.R. 2200, would limit U.S. assistance to Honduras unless the President certifies that the Government of Honduras has settled all outstanding expropriation claims brought by U.S. companies.

This report examines current conditions in Honduras as well as issues in U.S-Honduran relations.



Date of Report: July 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 33
Order Number: RL34027
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Organization of American States: Background and Issues for Congress


Peter J. Meyer
Analyst in Latin American Affairs

The Organization of American States (OAS) is the oldest multilateral regional organization in the world. It was founded in 1948 by the United States and 20 Latin American nations to serve as a forum for addressing issues of mutual concern. Over time, the organization expanded to include all 35 independent countries of the Western Hemisphere (though Cuba currently is excluded from participation). The organization’s areas of focus have also shifted over time, evolving in accordance with the priorities of its member states. Today, the OAS concentrates on four broad objectives: democracy promotion, human rights protection, economic and social development, and regional security cooperation. It carries out a wide variety of activities to advance these goals, often providing policy guidance and technical assistance to member states.

Since the organization’s foundation, the United States has sought to utilize the OAS to advance critical economic, political, and security objectives in the Western Hemisphere. Although OAS actions frequently reflected U.S. policy during the 20th Century, this has changed to a certain extent over the past decade as Latin American and Caribbean governments have adopted more independent foreign policies. While the organization’s goals and day-to-day activities are still generally consistent with U.S. policy toward the region, the United States’ ability to advance its policy initiatives within the OAS has declined. Nevertheless, the United States has remained the organization’s largest donor, contributing $61.4 million in FY2011—equivalent to 36% of the total 2011 OAS budget.

As OAS decisions have begun to reflect the increasing independence of its member states, U.S. policymakers occasionally have expressed concerns about the direction of the organization. Some Members of Congress assert that the OAS, as it currently operates, advances policies that run counter to U.S. interests, and that the United States should withhold funding until the organization changes. Others maintain that the OAS remains an important forum for advancing U.S. relations with the other nations of the hemisphere and that U.S. policy should seek to strengthen the organization and make it more effective. Issues receiving congressional attention in recent years have included Cuba’s potential inclusion in the OAS, the organization’s activities to protect democracy and human rights, the creation of regional organizations that could serve as alternatives to the OAS, and constraints on the organization’s budget.

The debate over the OAS and its utility for advancing U.S. interests has continued to unfold in the 112th Congress. In addition to raising issues of concern in congressional hearings and other forums, Members have introduced several legislative initiatives that include provisions related to the OAS. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, P.L. 112-74, provides funding for the organization during the current fiscal year, while S. 3241 and H.R. 5857 would provide funding for the OAS in FY2013. H.R. 2583 would have prohibited the United States from providing its assessed contribution (membership dues) to the OAS in FY2012, and H.R. 6067 includes provisions that would transfer 50% of the United States’ assessed contribution to specific OAS programs designed to advance democracy and security objectives starting in FY2013. H.R. 6067 also includes provisions that would forbid U.S. contributions to the OAS if Cuba is allowed to participate in the organization prior to transitioning to democracy. Another bill, H.R. 2542, would withhold 20% of all U.S. contributions to the OAS unless the organization takes action to assess the state of democracy in Venezuela and Nicaragua. H.Res. 312, introduced in June 2011, would call for U.S. ratification of several of the inter-American human rights treaties.



Date of Report: July 31, 2012
Number of Pages: 31
Order Number: R42639
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress


Peter J. Meyer
Analyst in Latin American Affairs

Clare Ribando Seelke
Specialist in Latin American Affairs


Central America faces significant security challenges. Criminal threats, fragile political and judicial systems, and social hardships such as poverty and unemployment contribute to widespread insecurity in the region. Consequently, improving security conditions in these countries is a difficult, multifaceted endeavor. Because U.S. drug demand contributes to regional security challenges and the consequences of citizen insecurity in Central America are potentially far-reaching, the United States is collaborating with countries in the region to implement and refine security efforts. 

Criminal Threats 


Well-financed drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), along with transnational gangs and other criminal groups, threaten to overwhelm Central American governments. Counternarcotics efforts in Colombia and Mexico have put pressure on DTOs in those countries, leading many to increase their operations in Central America—a region with fewer resources and weaker institutions with which to combat drug trafficking and related criminality. Increasing flows of narcotics through Central America are contributing to rising levels of violence and the corruption of government officials, both of which are weakening citizens’ support for democracy and the rule of law. DTOs are also increasingly becoming poly-criminal organizations, raising millions of dollars through smuggling, extorting, and sometimes kidnapping migrants. Given the transnational character of criminal organizations and their abilities to exploit ungoverned spaces, some analysts assert that insecurity in Central America poses a potential threat to the United States. 

Social and Political Factors 


Throughout Central America, underlying social conditions and structural weaknesses in governance inhibit efforts to improve security. Persistent poverty, inequality, and unemployment leave large portions of the population susceptible to crime. Given the limited opportunities other than emigration available to the expanding youth populations in Central America, young people are particularly vulnerable. At the same time, underfunded security forces and the failure to fully implement post-conflict institutional reforms initiated in several countries in the 1990s have left police, prisons, and judicial systems weak and susceptible to corruption. 

Approaches to Central American Security 


Central American governments have attempted to improve security conditions in a variety of ways, and are increasingly experimenting with new policies. Several countries, including Honduras, have taken more of a hard-line approach to organized crime, deploying military forces to carry out policing functions. The Guatemalan government has also embraced a larger role for the military in public security, although it has simultaneously called on countries in the region to consider drug decriminalization and other alternatives. Other Central American governments have emphasized prevention activities, such as programs that focus on strengthening families of at-risk youth, while the governments of Belize and El Salvador have supported efforts to broker truces between criminal gangs. Additionally, Central American nations have sought to improve regional security cooperation, recognizing the transnational nature of the threats they face.


U.S. Assistance 

To address growing security concerns, the Obama Administration has sought to develop collaborative partnerships throughout the hemisphere. In Central America, this has taken the form of the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), which was originally created in FY2008 as part of the Mexico-focused counterdrug and anticrime assistance package known as the Mérida Initiative. CARSI takes a broad approach to the issue of security. In addition to providing the seven nations of Central America with equipment, training, and technical assistance to support immediate law enforcement and interdiction operations, CARSI seeks to strengthen the capacities of governmental institutions to address security challenges and the underlying conditions that contribute to them. Since FY2008, Congress has appropriated nearly $500 million for Central America through Mérida/CARSI. The Obama Administration has requested an additional $107.5 million for CARSI in FY2013. 

Scope of This Report 


This report examines the extent of security problems in Central America, current efforts being undertaken by Central American governments to address them, and U.S. support for Central American efforts through the Central America Regional Security Initiative. It also raises potential policy issues for congressional consideration such as funding levels, human rights concerns, and how CARSI relates to other U.S. government policies.



Date of Report: July 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 42
Order Number: R41731
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Cuba: Issues for the 112th Congress


Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. The government of Raúl Castro has implemented limited economic policy changes, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. The government has reduced the number of political prisoners over the past several years, including the release of over 125 since 2010 after talks with the Catholic Church, but short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly. 

U.S. Policy 


Since the early 1960s, U.S. policy has consisted largely of isolating Cuba through economic sanctions. A second policy component has consisted of support measures for the Cuban people, including U.S.-sponsored broadcasting and support for human rights activists. In light of Fidel Castro’s departure as head of government, many observers called for a reexamination of policy. Two broad approaches have been at the center of debate. The first is to maintain the dual-track policy of isolating the Cuban government while providing support to the Cuban people. The second is aimed at changing attitudes in the Cuban government and society through increased engagement. Since taking office, the Obama Administration has lifted restrictions on family travel and remittances, moved to reengage Cuba on several bilateral issues, and eased restrictions on other types of purposeful travel and remittances. The Administration has criticized Cuba’s repression of dissidents, but has welcomed the release of political prisoners. The Administration has continued to call for the release of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, detained IN 2009, and sentenced to 15 years in prison in March 2011. 

Legislative Action 


Strong interest on Cuba is continuing in the 112th Congress. In the first session, an attempt to roll back the Administration’s easing of restrictions on travel and remittances was unsuccessful. The provision had been included in the House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 Financial Services appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, but was not included in the FY2012 “megabus” appropriations measure (H.R. 2055, P.L. 112-74). Both H.R. 2434 and the Senate version of the bill, S. 1573, also would have continued to clarify the definition of “payment of cash in advance” for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba during FY2012, but the provision was not included in the “megabus” measure.

In the second session, the Senate approved S.Res. 366 on February 1, 2012, condemning the Cuban government for the death of democracy activist Wilman Villar Mendoza. S.Res. 525 would honor prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá, killed in a car accident on July 22, 2012. With regard to Cuba democracy funding, the Senate Appropriations Committee version of the FY2013 foreign aid appropriations measure, S. 3241, would provide $15 million as the Administration requested, while the House Appropriations Committee version of the bill, H.R. 5857, would provide $20 million. With regard to Cuba broadcasting, S. 3241 would provide $23.4 million ($194,000 less than the Administration’s request) while H.R. 5857 would provide $28.062 million ($4.468 million more than the request).



Among other initiatives, two would increase sanctions: H.R. 2583 would roll back the easing of travel and remittance restrictions, and H.R. 2831 would attempt to curb frequent travel to Cuba by Cubans who have recently emigrated to the United States. Several initiatives would ease sanctions: H.R. 255 and H.R. 1887 (overall sanctions); H.R. 833 and H.R. 1888 (agricultural exports); and H.R. 380 and H.R. 1886 (travel). Two initiatives, S. 603 and H.R. 1166, would modify a trademark sanction. Seven bills, H.R. 372, S. 405, H.R. 2047, H.R. 3393, H.R. 4310, H.R. 6067, and S. 1836, would take different approaches toward Cuba’s offshore oil development. Two bills, S. 476 and H.R. 1317, would discontinue Radio and TV Martí broadcasts.



Date of Report: July 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 90
Order Number: R41617
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Friday, August 3, 2012

Cuba: U.S. Restrictions on Travel and Remittances


Mark P. Sullivan
Specialist in Latin American Affairs

Restrictions on travel to Cuba have been a key and often contentious component in U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba’s communist government since the early 1960s. Under the George W. Bush Administration, restrictions on travel and on private remittances to Cuba were tightened. In March 2003, the Administration eliminated travel for people-to-people educational exchanges unrelated to academic coursework. In June 2004, the Administration further restricted family and educational travel, eliminated the category of fully-hosted travel, and restricted remittances so that they could only be sent to the remitter’s immediate family. Initially there was mixed reaction to the Administration’s June 2004 tightening of Cuba travel and remittance restrictions, but opposition to the policy grew, especially within the Cuban American community regarding the restrictions on family travel and remittances. 

Obama Administration Policy 


Under the Obama Administration, Congress took action in March 2009 by including two provisions in the FY2009 omnibus appropriations measure (P.L. 111-8) that eased restrictions on family travel and travel related to marketing and sale of agricultural and medical goods to Cuba. Subsequently, in April 2009, President Obama announced that his Administration would go further and allow unlimited family travel and remittances. Regulations implementing these changes were issued in September 2009. The new regulations also included the authorization of general licenses for travel transactions for telecommunications-related sales and for attendance at professional meetings related to commercial telecommunications.

In January 2011, the Obama Administration announced policy changes further easing restrictions on travel and remittances. The measures (1) increase purposeful travel to Cuba related to religious, educational, and people-to-people exchanges; (2) allow any U.S. person to send remittances to non-family members in Cuba and make it easier for religious institutions to send remittances for religious activities; and (3) permit all U.S. international airports to apply to provide services to licensed charter flights. These new measures, with the exception of the expansion of eligible airports, are similar to policies that were undertaken by the Clinton Administration in 1999, but subsequently curtailed by the Bush Administration in 2003-2004. 

Legislative Action in the 112th Congress 


In the first session of the 112th Congress, there were several attempts aimed at rolling back the Obama Administration’s actions easing restrictions on travel and remittances. The House Appropriations Committee version of the FY2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, H.R. 2434, would have rolled back President Obama’s easing of restrictions on remittances and family travel; efforts to include the provision in an FY2012 “megabus” appropriations measure, H.R. 2055, were unsuccessful. (Notably in the second session, neither the House or Senate Appropriations Committee-reported versions of the FY2013 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations measure, H.R. 6020 and S. 3301 respectively, have provisions regarding U.S. restrictions on travel or remittances to Cuba.) Among other measures, H.R. 2583, the FY2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, would require enforcement of travel regulations as in effect on January 19, 2009, and H.R. 2831 would amend the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 in an attempt to curb frequent travel to Cuba by Cubans who have recently emigrated to the United States.



Date of Report: July 24, 2012
Number of Pages: 45
Order Number: RL31139
Price: $29.95

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