No one should be too hard on our friend Mauricio, a leading lobbyist and honcho of pro-embargo campaign donations, because he’s a nice guy and, well, just because.
But he is providing a steady supply of jokes in the debate over Rep. Diaz-Balart’s amendment, and they are not the kind that make you laugh. They are jokes that come from a talent for making things up. Such as:
- Rep. Diaz-Balart’s amendment plainly restores the Bush rules on family visits and remittances and removes the President’s authority to modify those rules in any way. But Mauricio assures us that no one should worry because family visits will still be allowed once a year. You just have to accept that the language (which says the Bush regulations “are restored and shall be carried out”) doesn’t really mean what it says. (Even Prensa Latina swallowed this one hook, line, and sinker.) In fact, the amendment is not a wet noodle: It’s a clear reversal of the President’s policy, a huge Christmas stink-bomb that will block thousands of family visits. It’s also a clear attack on any future Executive action to change the Bush policy on family travel and remittances. Which is why the White House is warning Congress about messing with its foreign policy prerogatives.
- Did you hear that the Castro Regime skims half the money that Cuban Americans send in family remittances? Actually I can’t back that up, any more than Mauricio can back up his own statement that the Castro Regime skims 30 percent. Because it’s false. (A commenter points out that if you send remittances by Western Union these days, $100 spent here delivers about 97 convertible pesos to the recipient.) That is because of two developments in the past year: Cuba’s devaluation of its currency, and the ability of Western Union to disburse in Cuban pesos. Previously, U.S. regulations required that Western Union to pay out the remittances in Cuba in dollar cash – a requirement that forced recipients to convert the cash into Cuban currency and pay a ten percent surcharge. (More on this here.)
- Mauricio claims that the Bank of International Settlements reports (just where, he doesn’t say) that Cuba’s international reserves have ballooned by $3 billion since April 2009. This BIS report (pdf, see p. A51) says Cuban “deposits” climbed $1.3 billion between December 2009 and June 2011, reaching $5.6 billion. Of course we don’t know why this is the case, or if BIS data represent the totality of Cuban reserves (doubtful), or if they represent the Cuban reserve position accurately (who knows?). But Mauricio picks a single factor as if he knows that it’s determinant, and as if others (tourism, commodity prices, other export earnings, etc.) simply do not count.
Other than that…