January 04, 2023

Wyden: Cuban Private Sector Small Businesses Should Get Strong U.S. Support

Following Fact-Finding Trip to Cuba, Wyden Renews Call to Normalize Trade Relations; Wyden Raised Need to Improve Human Rights In Meeting with Cuban President

Washington, D.C.U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is calling on the Biden Administration to strengthen support for Cuba’s small and medium-sized private enterprises by creating more general licenses, as well as giving the private sector access to international banking, following his fact-finding trip to Cuba. Wyden, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and was the first Senator to visit Cuba in four years, intends to discuss his ideas with Senate colleagues over the weeks ahead. 

“During my visit to Cuba I was told by entrepreneurs that the vibrant Cuban private sector would benefit from narrow changes to U.S. licensing and other rules,” Wyden said. “Specifically, the entrepreneurs told me that general licenses, allowing them to operate in spite of the sanctions, would bring legitimacy and credibility to them and their businesses. They told me they expected these changes to lead to the creation of thousands of new businesses. In addition, they said bank accounts would make it easier to attract investment capital, and knowing that I authored the U.S. e-commerce law, they requested that I assist with their e-commerce initiatives.” 

Wyden believes the U.S. rule changes would benefit private sector Cuban companies, and developing Cuban economic opportunities would help reduce Cuban migration to the United States. He believes a growing middle class of entrepreneurs and family businesses will lay the foundations for fundamental political and economic reforms in one of our closest neighbors.  The senator also saw growing involvement by China in the Cuban economy, which can present national security as well as economic security concerns for Americans.

In addition to Wyden’s work on these new small business proposals, the senator continued his ongoing efforts to build support for three of his long-standing priorities – ending the economic embargo, normalizing U.S.-Cuban trade relations and removing Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism – while emphasizing the need to improve human and worker rights in the country. In a meeting on December 28, 2022, Senator Wyden urged Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel to offer clemency for the July 2021 Cuban protestors.

On his last day in Cuba, January 1, 2023, the senator visited with Miguel Calderon Gomez, the famous former coach of the Cuban national basketball team, to discuss how basketball and sports can contribute to better relations between nations. Calderon Gomez also reminisced with Wyden about how the United States “Dream Team” beat the Cuban squad he coached 30 years ago in Portland, Oregon, before the Barcelona Olympics.

Wyden is the sponsor of legislation to end the trade embargo of Cuba, and last year urged the Biden-Harris administration to reverse Donald Trump’s failed Cuba policies. He last visited Cuba in 2018, as part of a Senate delegation.


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