Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced his decision to lift his hold on the nomination of Roberta Jacobson to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, following months of negotiations with the administration in the hopes of cracking down on abuses of the people-to-people Cuba travel policy:
“Since I placed a hold on this nomination last November, I have called on the Obama Administration to review abuses in the people-to-people Cuba travel policy. This policy has been abused by some people who are more interested in profiting from tourism than in a meaningful effort to bring about democratic change in Cuba. In doing so, they have also undermined our entire Cuba policy by providing hard currency to a cruel regime that oppresses its people. While I still have concerns about the entire program, I had asked the administration to at least enforce its own regulations and stop the more egregious abuses as a condition for me lifting the nomination hold.
“The State Department has agreed to make changes to the application process that will bring the people-to-people travel regulations more in line with the pro-democracy requirements enshrined in the LIBERTAD Act. They will now require applicants to demonstrate how their itineraries constitute purposeful travel that would support civil society in Cuba and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities.”