June 24, 2024
Fla. AG Moody Calls on Treasury to Stop Supporting ‘Cuba’s Communist Interests’

Fla. AG Moody Calls on Treasury to Stop Supporting ‘Cuba’s Communist Interests’

(Bethany Blankley, The Center Square) – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Thursday called on U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to stop the agency’s “continued support of Cuba’s communist interests.”

She did so after Cuban-American lawmakers raised the alarm about Chinese spies operating in Cuba, reportedly targeting Cuban-Americans as well as about the Biden administration recently allowing Cuban regime officials to tour TSA facilities at the Miami International Airport.

She also did so after a former U.S. diplomat in Miami pleaded guilty to charges of acting as a secret agent for the Cuban government.

At issue is the Treasury Departmen issuing new regulatory changes to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, known as the CACR amendments. They include authorizing Cuban nationals who identify as “independent private sector entrepreneurs” to open and use U.S. bank accounts regardless if they physically live in the U.S. They also authorize “U-Turn” transactions reversing a 2019 Treasury Department ban on the practice.

Under the previous administration, the Treasury Department banned such transactions to deny Cuba “access to hard currency” and to curb “the Cuban government’s bad behavior while continuing to support the long-suffering people of Cuba.”

The current policies, Moody says, benefit Cuba and “fly in the face of reasoned opposition and common sense.”

“President Biden continues to be manipulated by the Castro regime, and now for the first time in over 60 years, the U.S. will open its banking institutions to those who may bolster or be affiliated with the Communist dictatorship,” Moody said in a statement. “These ill-thought-out amendments will likely do little to help the suffering of the Cuban people and will only strengthen those bad actors who keep the Cuban people oppressed.”

Florida is home to the largest Cuban population in the United States, with the majority living in Miami. While Cubans have fled to Florida claiming freedom from persecution from the Cuban communist regime, Moody argues the CACR amendments “may do more to help the oppressors than the oppressed.”

Last year, the Biden administration considered implementing the CACR amendments but didn’t after receiving opposition from members of Congress and the Cuban American community. They emphasized there is no legitimate free enterprise in communist Cuba and any “entrepreneurs” are “under total government control” of the Cuban regime.

The current CACR amendments don’t require Cuban nationals using U.S. bank accounts to provide proof that they are not connected to members of the communist government.

As a result, the regulations “could potentially allow for businesses owned or controlled by relatives or associates of communist regime members to open bank accounts and infiltrate the American market by masquerading as ‘independent private sector entrepreneurs,’” Moody warned. Allowing U-turn transactions would only ensure more money would flow into communist Cuba and “make U.S. banking institutions a shiny new destination for those looking to launder money to or from Cuba,” she said.

Cuba is designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Despite this, the Biden administration removed Cuba from the short list of countries deemed uncooperative on counterterrorism, Moody notes.

Cuban American Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Florida, and other Florida lawmakers have been sounding the alarm about Biden’s Cuba policies, including the TSA tour. In response, Gimenez introduced legislation to prevent the TSA from granting sensitive security access to agents from State Sponsors of Terrorism-designated countries.

“You’d think it unnecessary and commonsense, but commonsense isn’t very common in the Biden Administration,” he said.

He also sent a letter, with Florida Republican U.S. Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and TSA Administrator David Pekoske demanding answers about the Cuban TSA tour.

“Only under the Biden Administration would they allow a terrorist regime into our secure facilities at one of the busiest airports in America,” Rubio said, adding that he asked DHS officials “why they would be so oblivious.”

The TSA tour was the second time under Mayorkas’ watch that members of Cuba’s Communist Party have been invited to tour U.S. facilities, the Florida lawmakers said. In February 2023, the U.S. Coast Guard invited Cuban officials to visit USCG headquarters in Washington, D.C., and tour U.S. port facilities in Wilmington, North Carolina. In response, language was added to the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit such tours from occurring in the future.

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