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Senate Proceeding on Jul 15th, 2010 :: 8:16:50 to 8:40:30
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Byron Dorgan

8:16:50 to 8:40:30( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Byron Dorgan

Byron Dorgan

8:16:53 to 8:17:13( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: quorum call: mr. dorgan: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. dorgan: madam president, i make a point ofrder that -- let me be vacated, madam president. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: madam president, sometimes on the floor of the united states senate good friends disagree, perhaps is not as often as some would think.

Byron Dorgan

8:17:14 to 8:17:36( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: but on occasion, that's the case, and it's the case today when i observed and listened to a presentation by my colleague from new jersey on the subject of cuba. i'm sure we don't disagree about some parts of this subject -- that is i don't like the cuban government. i want freedom for the cuban

Byron Dorgan

8:17:37 to 8:17:58( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: people we, i assume both believe that and believe the political prisoners in cuba that languish in cuban jails for exercising the right of free speech are doing that in the dark cells i a manner that is wholly unfair. we should as a country do everything we can to try to

Byron Dorgan

8:17:59 to 8:18:20( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: bring the vestiges of freedom to the cuban people. i understand all that. i support that strongly. i've been to cuba. i've spoken to cuba government leaders, i've spoken to dissidents, i've spoken to people on the streets of cue pwafplt i want cuba -- of cuba. i want country.

Byron Dorgan

8:18:21 to 8:18:41( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: let me describe how long cuba has had communist rule and, by the way, how many presidents that communist rule and, therefore, the embargo that's been leveled against cuba all of these years, let me describe how many presidents that embargo existed through. the presidency beginning with john f. kennedy and through this

Byron Dorgan

8:18:42 to 8:19:02( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: administration. that's ten presidency is is. we slapped -- that's ten president den seus. we slapped an embargo against cuba and punished the american people in the process by saying we're going to limit your right to travel to cuba and shut off all commerce to cuba, including

Byron Dorgan

8:19:03 to 8:19:23( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: restrictions on sending food and medicine to cue pwafplt the embargo hasn't seemed to work very well. it's now 50 years old and it still exists. well, what has happened as a result of the embargo? we have now a debate about what should happen with respect to our relationship to cuba at this point.

Byron Dorgan

8:19:24 to 8:19:44( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: my colleagues say, don't do anything that wld reward the cuban government. far from it. i have no interest in rewarding a government that i substantially disagree with, a government that i believe throws innocent people in jail. i have no interest, nor do the people who support the bill that senator enzi and i have now offered in the united states senate with 40 senators cosponsoring it. we have no interest in rewarding

Byron Dorgan

8:19:45 to 8:20:06( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: the cuban government. that is not the issue. but we do believe that the restriction on the american people's rights, the decision by a government that says we're going to tell the american people where you can and can't travel. we believe that's inappropriate, and we do believe that ought to change. so what i'd like to do is talk

Byron Dorgan

8:20:07 to 8:20:27( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: about a couple things, including, number one, lifting the travel ban to cuba and making it easier to sell food to cuba. i was the person who changed the law ten years ago that allowed for the first time just a crack in this embargo that allows us to sell food into cuba if it's

Byron Dorgan

8:20:28 to 8:20:49( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: paid for with cash. i think it's immoral for a country to use food as a foreign policy weapon. i don't think food ought to be part of any embargo. that i think's immoral. by the way, using food as a part of an embargo, that just hurts poor, sick and hungry people. you think the castro brothers

Byron Dorgan

8:20:50 to 8:21:11( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: missed breakfast, lunch or dinner because we had an embargo on food shipments to cuba? hardly. so ten years ago i got the law changed. in fact, it was the dorgan-ashcroft amendment. got a hrou changed that allowed us -- got a law changed that allowed us to begin selling food into the country of cuba. and that is the first opportunity to begin to make any

Byron Dorgan

8:21:12 to 8:21:35( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: changes at all in this embargo. now the question is travel to cuba by the american people. should we continue to say to the american people, you have no right to travel to cuba? we don't like the cuban government, so what we're going to do is restrict the rights of the american people. we've been doing that for 50 years, and it's time, long past the time for it to change.

Byron Dorgan

8:21:36 to 8:21:57( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: now let me justescribe a letter that came u.s. house of representatives. and, by the way, the reason that this issue has now come to the forefront is the agriculture committee of the u.s. house just passed a bill that lifts the travel restrictions on the

Byron Dorgan

8:21:58 to 8:22:19( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: american people to travel to cuba. and it also makes some changes in the conditions under which agricultural goods can be made -- can be sold to cuba, which is very important to do as well because even though ten years ago i got the provision enacted into law that allows the sale of farm products for cash into cuba in 2003 as a run-up to

Byron Dorgan

8:22:20 to 8:22:40( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: the 2004 election, president bush tightened all of these provisions and actually changed a rule so that in order for cuba to purchase goods from our country -- that is agricultural commodities -- they had to pay in cash before the commodities were even shipped. well, that never happens in a transaction. you pay cash when you get the goods. but the president, president

Byron Dorgan

8:22:41 to 8:23:03( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: bush, was attempting to restrict the sales of agricultural products to cuba. so we need to fix that as well. the house of representatives agriculture committee now passed a bill lifting the travel ban. that means this issue is going to be front and center, and here in the united states senate i and senator enzi have the bill -- it's bipartisan -- that would lift the travel ban to cuba.

Byron Dorgan

8:23:04 to 8:23:24( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: and we have 40 senators that are cosponsors. now let me read to you a letter that was sent to the u.s. house of representatives by 74 cuban human rights leaders. may 30, 2010, just a month and a half ago, they said the supportive presence of american

Byron Dorgan

8:23:25 to 8:23:46( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: citizens, their direct help, and the many opportunities for exchange used effectively and in the desired direction would not be an abandonment of cuban civil society but rather a force to strengthen it. similarly, to further facilitate the sale of agriculture products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer. the current cuban government has

Byron Dorgan

8:23:47 to 8:24:12( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: always violated this right to travel, and in recent years has justified actions with the fact that the government of the united states also restricts its citizens freedom to travel. the passage of this bill would remove this spurious justification. this is not from me or from the cosponsors of my bill. this is from 7

Byron Dorgan

8:24:15 to 8:24:36( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: rights leaders. madam president, the lifting the travel ban, the one that we've slapped on the american people in order to punish somebody else -- we've punished the american citizens because we're upset with somebody else. here are people who support

Byron Dorgan

8:24:37 to 8:25:00( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: lifting the travel ban: a political prisoner, marcelo rodriguez from cub guillermo farinas, a hunger striker from cuba, yoani

Byron Dorgan

8:25:01 to 8:25:23( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: sanchez, oscar chepe, miriam leva founder of the ladies in white. one of the founders of the ladies in white this travel ban. they are not soft on castro or soft on a communist government. they just believe this travel ban should be lifted because it

Byron Dorgan

8:25:24 to 8:25:45( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: would be beneficial to their interest as leaders of human rights in cuba. the sacrifices that those who i have shown here in photographs, the sacrifices they have made in

Byron Dorgan

8:25:46 to 8:26:06( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: cuba sitting in dark prison cells, hunger strikes and more, i think give them great credibility when they speak out on what is the best way to promote democracy in cuba. i indicated that i got a law passed that allowed us to sell some food into cuba for cash. since that time, u.s. farmers

Byron Dorgan

8:26:07 to 8:26:29( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: have sold $3.2 billion worth of food to cuba. i mentioned that in 2003, the bush administration decided to dramatically change that to try to restrict the sale of agricultural products to cuba, and they succeeded in some respects. we need to change that as well. it makes no sen

Byron Dorgan

8:26:30 to 8:26:50( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: they did in 2003. but let me try was done in 2003 so that everybody understands what happened. the president, trying to get tough in 2003, eliminated the people, the people-to-people visits program with cuba,

Byron Dorgan

8:26:51 to 8:27:11( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: eliminated secondary education travel with cuba. restricted family travel to cuba by cuban americans. restricted amateur athletic travel. prohibited gift parcels with clothing, personal hygiene items, soap making equipment and so on. restricted religious travel. and then also imposed the cash before shipment rule in order to

Byron Dorgan

8:27:12 to 8:27:33( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: restrict the sale of agricultural commodities to cuba. so that's where we've been with respect to what happened in the previous administration. president obama has taken some unilateral actions since taking office. he's removed the restrictions on cuban americans who want to

Byron Dorgan

8:27:34 to 8:27:55( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: visit cuba for family visits. and he's authorized u.s. telecommunications companies to sell their services in cuba. i think he should go further immediately, and i think he has the capability to do that by restoring people-to-people visits to cuba, restore the definition of -- i should say

Byron Dorgan

8:27:56 to 8:28:17( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: permanently restore the original definition of payment of cash in advance so that farmers can continue to sell products, agricultural products to cuba. and especially we need here in the congress to pass s. 428, which is the freedom to travel to cuba act. now, let me describe that the

Byron Dorgan

8:28:18 to 8:28:38( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: american people have the rig to travel almost anywhere they wish. they can travel to russia in the middle of the cold war. in fact, we sent our philharmonic orchestra in 1959, right at the height of the cold war, to play music in russia. they weren't restricted.

Byron Dorgan

8:28:39 to 8:28:59( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: there was no travel restriction with respect to the new york philharmonic in 2008 went to north korea. if you want to get a lump in your throat and feel really

Byron Dorgan

8:29:00 to 8:29:21( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: proud, go get this, the recording, the d.v.d. watching the new york philharmonic play a concert in north korea, it extraordinary. but they were not prohibited from traveling to north korea because you can travel to north korea.

Byron Dorgan

8:29:22 to 8:29:42( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: you can travel to iran. this is from the office of foreign assets control, which is the office down in the bowels of the treasury department that determines where americans -- or how ty're going to enforce the travel ban to cuba. they say all transactions ordinarily and incidents of travel to and from iran are permitte let's review.

Byron Dorgan

8:29:43 to 8:30:03( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: you can travel to russia in the middle of the cold war. you can travel to iran right now. you can travel to north korea right now. north korea's a communist country. you can travel to china. china's a community country. you can travel to vietnam. vietnam's a communist country. i'm co-chair on the

Byron Dorgan

8:30:04 to 8:30:24( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: congressional commission on china. we have the world's most complete database of political prisoners held in china. there are very serious problems in china with respect to the imprisonment of innocent people who are now sitting in the dark corners of cells in the farthest reaches of china,

Byron Dorgan

8:30:25 to 8:30:46( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: prisoners. and we don't decide because of that that we're not going to allow travel or trade with cuba -- excuse vietnam. we have decided engagement through travel and trade is the most productive way to move those countries toward greater human rights. it is only with cuba that our country has decided that that's

Byron Dorgan

8:30:47 to 8:31:07( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: not a strategy that works at all. what really works is punishing the american people. and so what we have done is we decided we're going to pu the american people that travel to cuba by tracking them down and diverting 20% of the resources in the office of t foreign asset control, that's a little office in the treasury

Byron Dorgan

8:31:08 to 8:31:28( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: department who -- they're supposed to be working on tracking financing by terrorists. instead about a quarter of their time, i'm told, is used to try to track american tourists who are being suspected of vacationing in cuba. when they track them down, they really get after them.

Byron Dorgan

8:31:29 to 8:31:50( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: they want to levy a big fine and i described previously, and i will again, because my colleague who presented used a lot of posters to show what the circumstances are. but her foreign assets control says with respect to travel to cuba by an american citizen, "unless otherwise authorized, any person

Byron Dorgan

8:31:51 to 8:32:11( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: subject to u.s. jurisdiction entbaidges any travel-related transaction in cuba viotes the regulations." what does that mean? what are the consequences? well, it means that we are punishing the american people saying we restrict our travel. so carlos lazio, a man who i met

Byron Dorgan

8:32:12 to 8:32:32( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: and a man who went to iraq to fight for his country and won a bronze star because he was brave, came back to this country after serving his country in uniform, was awarded with great fanfare a bronze medal for bravery and then was told when he was informed that his two

Byron Dorgan

8:32:33 to 8:32:53( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: sons who were living in cuba was sick was told that you have no right to travel to cuba to see your sick son. unbelievable. i forced a vote in the united states senate on this question. sergeant lazo back from iraq with a sick son in cuba was told, you have no right to travel unbelievable.

Byron Dorgan

8:32:54 to 8:33:14( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: and, yet, that was the case. and i've shown thi describe how unbelievably foolish these policies are. this is joan scott. i know joan scott as well. met her. she went to havana to distribute free bibles on the streets of havana.

Byron Dorgan

8:33:15 to 8:33:35( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: for that her government tracked her down and tried to fine her $10,000 for going to cuba to distribute free bibles, this government is going track its citizens downo try to fine them $10,000? and i've met joan slote as well

Byron Dorgan

8:33:36 to 8:33:56( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: riding a bicycle in cuba. she took a bicycle trip to cuba. and this government of ours tracked her down and tri to fine her $10,000. and, by the way, this woman, who i think made $1,100 a month in social security, her government decided to try to attach her social security payments. what was her transgression

Byron Dorgan

8:33:57 to 8:34:18( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: what was her crime? she took a bicycle trip to cuba as an american citizen. now, mr. president, i don't very much more about thi this is the most unbelievable

Byron Dorgan

8:34:19 to 8:34:40( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: with respect to cuba. i've been to china. we decided that engagement through trade and travel is constructive. it works. it is why, i assume, that the legislation that senator enzi and i have offered is cosponsored by senator lugar, the ranking member of the senate

Byron Dorgan

8:34:41 to 8:35:01( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: foreign relations committee, senator dodd, the chairman of the banking committee, they are part of the 40 senators who have cosponsored legislation saying to our government, would you stop punishing the american somebody else? and would you stop being so unbelievably inconsistent. don't tell us that trade and travel is a constructive way to

Byron Dorgan

8:35:02 to 8:35:22( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: deal with communist countries and then tell us that dealing with cuba 90 miles off our shore requires us to punish the american people by restricting their right to travel. i say, again, by what right does this government have to tell an american citizen where it can't travel? it can go to north korea, iran,

Byron Dorgan

8:35:23 to 8:35:43( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: china, vietnam, but not travel to cuba? that's obscene. it makes no sense to me. and i -- you know, it's -- aside from we ought -- we ought to stop doing stupid things, aside from just that notion, we surely ought to decide that it is not in the interest of this country to have its goverent telling

Byron Dorgan

8:35:44 to 8:36:04( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: people how, when, and where they can travel. now, i want to finish by just saying this again. i don't deny that there is substantial human rights ase in cuba. i've been there. i talked to the dissidents. i talked to the cuban people who have come to this country who

Byron Dorgan

8:36:05 to 8:36:25( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: know of, who have seen, who have watched the unbelievable lack of human rights that exists in that country. so that's -- that's not the point. the point isn't to didn't the charts that people show on the abuse. i could bring to the floor of the senate as chairman of the commission that deals with china, i can can bring to the

Byron Dorgan

8:36:26 to 8:36:46( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: floor dozens of photographs of chinese prisoners held in the darkest cells in the farthest reaches of china who have done nothing but are suffering. but we have not decided as a country that we will restrict the american people's rights to go to china because that exists in china. we've said quite the opposite. we believe the best way to

Byron Dorgan

8:36:47 to 8:37:10( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: promote a march towards greater human rights in china, vietnam and elsewhere is through trade and travel. that's the construction that this country has taken for a long, long while except with cuba. and in that circumstance we say, no, we must -- we must, prevent americans from traveling to cuba.

Byron Dorgan

8:37:11 to 8:37:31( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: and i say cuban human rights leaders have signed a letter sent to us from havana, cuba, 74 of them and said, lift this travel ban. this travel ban makes no sense. you want to help cuba? then -- you want to help the

Byron Dorgan

8:37:32 to 8:37:52( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: people of cuba, lift this travel ban. and i also would say, again, if i canind the chart that i the -- the very brave citizens in cuba who have spoken out and

Byron Dorgan

8:37:53 to 8:38:15( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: who are widely recognized who have suffered, mar cello rodriguez, sanchez, all of them have suffered under the castro regime in cuba. all of them believe this travel ban ought toe lifted. i would hope that this senate

Byron Dorgan

8:38:16 to 8:38:36( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: would pay some attention to that and finally see if w can't do two things at the same time. number one, stop punishing the american people because we disagree with another country's government. number two, do smart things that allow us to find ways to push and move that government toward greater human rights for its citizens. lifting the travel ban will

Byron Dorgan

8:38:37 to 8:38:58( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: accomplish both. because there are 40 of us in the united states senate who have sponsored legislation and cosponsored legislation to lift that travel ban, i believe tha when we have the opportunity for that vote here in t senate, i believe that we will prevail at last. at last, at long, long last we will prevail and it will be

Byron Dorgan

8:38:59 to 8:39:19( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: constructive public policy for our country to have done so. it will have lifted the yolk of oppression. i'm talking about our government. it will lift the yolk of oppression for some 50 years by telling its citizens where it can and cannot travel. i don't want to hear anymore about a government that

Byron Dorgan

8:39:20 to 8:39:40( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: down a guy from state of washington whose father was a minister in a small church in cuba and then immigrated to this country and his father died and his father's last wish was that his ashes would be strewn on the church property in cuba where he was a minister. and so his son carried out his

Byron Dorgan

8:39:41 to 8:40:02( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: father's wish, went to cuba and took his father's ashes to the church where he once served and deposited them on the lawn by church. and for that his government tracked him down and had a substantial fine for that young man from washington. i'm tired of those stories.

Byron Dorgan

8:40:03 to 8:40:27( Edit History Discussion )

Byron Dorgan: that is about wrong and we need to fix it. and i make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the rol

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