Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen’s Statement on President Trump’s Cuba Policy

June 16, 2017
Press Release

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) released the following statement after President Trump announced he would reverse President Obama’s policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba:

“I am disappointed in President Trump’s decision to reverse President Obama’s policy of normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba.  This backwards stance is a lose/lose for both nations.  I worked alongside President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to create a stronger relationship with Cuba, and I was proud to join President Obama on his historic trip to Cuba last year.  The efforts to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations had benefits for both our nations and this reversal will set that relationship back 50 years and cost America business, commerce, and jobs.  It will also endanger the goodwill that the U.S. had engendered with other Latin American countries who have long opposed the U.S. stance toward Cuba.  A continued relationship with Cuba would strengthen trade between our countries, benefiting Memphis entrepreneurs and businesses such as AutoZone for Cuba’s aging American cars, FedEx, medical device companies and health-industry professionals.  Cuba has some of the world’s best medical minds and practices and has made significant advancements in diabetes, cancer, and HIV research.  Under the Trump ban, Americans attempting to travel to Cuba will face increased restrictions and scrutiny which will financially harm Cuba and make it more difficult for that nation to become prosperous. People-to-people contact is a tremendous step forward towards understanding each other’s cultures.  The Trump ban will roll the United States’ efforts toward that end backward.

Memphis’ ties to Cuba were strengthened last year when a 3-year-old Cuban child, Manolito Alejandro, received life-saving heart surgery at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.  I was pleased to help facilitate the surgery and delighted to meet young Manolito.  Under President Trump’s policy, cooperation on medical advancements and procedures, like Manolito’s surgery, would be more difficult.

My love for Cuba began when I was a 5-year-old with polio and had the privilege of meeting the late, great Cuban baseball legend Minnie Miñoso during an exhibition game in Memphis.  Minnie spotted me at the game standing with crutches and sent me a baseball through an intermediary white player.  At the time, the South was segregated, and it was a daring gesture of humanity.  Minnie had the biggest heart on the baseball field, and we became close friends.  Through Minnie, I grew to have a deep appreciation for the Cuban people.  I urge President Trump to reconsider his anachronistic policy on Cuba.  The President should put America first by strengthening relations with Cuba to benefit American businesses and the American health care industry.”