September 11,2003

Baucus Travels to Cuba to Urge Democracy for the Cuban People

Senator Pushes for Legislation to Lift the Cuba Travel Ban, Embargo

(Washington, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member of the Senate FinanceCommittee, is traveling to Havana, Cuba on Saturday, September 13, 2003 to meet with Cubanofficials, members of the Cuban business community, and Cuban dissidents in order to search forsolutions that will bring democracy to the small island nation.

Earlier this year, Baucus introduced legislation that would seek to lift the trade embargoagainst Cuba, and remove travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba. In addition, Baucushelped establish the “Senate Working Group on Cuba," a bipartisan group of Senators who arefocused on examining U.S. policies toward Cuba and determining the steps Congress can take toincrease trade and strengthen the relationship between the two countries.

“It is time for 40 years of failed policy to come to an end,” Baucus said. “The people ofCuba are suffering under a totalitarian regime that 40 years of sanctions have done nothing toalleviate. Given the recent detentions of Cuban citizens, it is more critical than ever to promotedemocracy in the region, which is why I am making this important trip."

A group of business people from Montana and around the nation will be joining Baucus onthe Cuban trip to learn more about the country and ways to work together to help provide the Cubanpeople with more economic opportunities. Baucus and the group of American business people planto meet with Eduardo Bencomo, President of Cemex and Pedro Alvarez, President of Alimport,among others.

The Senator also hopes to meet with leaders of the Varela Project, a referendum ondemocratic changes and recognition of civil rights in Cuba. In May, Castro struck out against theactions of Varela Project and arrested dozens of dissidents.

“The actions of the Cuban government against a group wishing to exercise free speech aredeplorable," Baucus said. "My work to ease the sanctions and allow American's to travel to Cuba inno way shows any support for the Cuban government. Just the opposite. I'm working to help theCuban people and I believe that one of the most effective ways to encourage democracy is byexposing people to all of the benefits of a free and open society.”