WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a senior House Democrat and leading voice on U.S.-Cuba relations, released the following statement regarding Secretary Tillerson’s recent meeting with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla and the decision to withdraw all non-essential personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Havana and issue a travel advisory warning Americans not to travel to Cuba:
“Keeping our American diplomats safe and secure must always be our first priority. I strongly support U.S. and Cuban efforts to determine who is responsible for the harmful sonar attacks and ensure they are held accountable.
“Today’s announcement and indefinite suspension of visa processing and consular services by the Trump Administration, however, is a dramatic overreaction and the latest example of a White House with a stunning ignorance on how to best conduct foreign policy. This would make it even harder for Cuban and American families to travel and visit loved ones.
“It is essential that the State Department immediately develop practical contingency plans to continue to allow families to travel from Cuba. Americans with family and loved ones in Cuba should not be forced to face such unnecessary barriers, especially when so many are still recovering from the devastating hurricanes that have hit the region.
“Americans cannot afford a return to the failed Cold War isolationist policies that divided families for 50 years. Hundreds of thousands of Americans visit Cuba every year. Our businesses are engaged in agricultural sales and other business opportunities. U.S. and Cuban agencies engage in cooperation on drug trafficking, human smuggling, search and rescue operations, and other security issues. An Embassy presence is vital to maintaining those relationships.
“Any move to sever or diminish diplomatic ties or travel would be a dangerous step backward that would jeopardize the progress our countries have made. Americans need strong leadership, but the Trump administration seems more interested in abandoning diplomacy when we need it most. Our nations must work together to ensure the safety of American personnel without dividing families.”