Cruz Seeks to Block Joint U.S.-Cuba Security Exercises
Demands return of dummy Hellfire missile
BY: Adam Kredo
January 20, 2016 4:22 pm
Congress may consider blocking the United States and Cuba from
conducting joint security exercises until the Obama administration can
prove the communist regime has dialed back its anti-American efforts,
according to a letter sent to the Pentagon and obtained by the
Washington Free Beacon.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a leading critic of the administration's
detente with Cuba, petitioned Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on
Wednesday, demanding that he disinvite Cuba from the upcoming Caribbean
Nations Security Conference, which will be held later this month in
Jamaica. Cruz is concerned about recent reports that Cuba is in
possession of a dummy American Hellfire missile.
The inclusion of Cuba in these sensitive discussions is "reckless" and
any invitation should be rescinded "at the very least until the Hellfire
is returned to the United States," Cruz wrote in the letter.
In the months since the Obama administration renewed relations with Cuba
and removed it from the official state sponsors of terror list, the
Cuban regime has continued to harbor fugitives from the U.S., including
one who was convicted in 1977 of murdering a New Jersey State Trooper.
Cruz maintains that it is not in the national security interests of U.S.
to include Cuba in the high-level security talks, which were announced
by the Pentagon earlier this month.
It seems "recklessly premature to participate in a joint security
exercise with Cuba this month, especially as they seem likely to only
use it as a platform from which to demand the return of Naval Station
Guantanamo Bay," Cruz wrote, referring to recent indications by Cuba
that it will push the Obama administration to return the land currently
being used to house terror suspects.
"I would like to know the rationale behind this decision, and I urge you
to reconsider this invitation at the very least until the Hellfire is
returned to the United States," Cruz wrote.
The senator also disclosed current discussions in Congress aimed at
barring the administration from conducting joint military exercises with
"I also warn you of my intention to insert language into the FY 2017
National Defense Authorization Act prohibiting any future such joint
exercises until Congress receives convincing assurances that the
anti-American posture of the Castro regime has undergone a material
change," Cruz wrote.
Pentagon leaders disclosed this month that, for the first time, a
delegation of Cuban officials would participate in the annual Caribbean
security conference, which is run in part by U.S. Southern Command.
"We've normalized now and, regardless of how we think of each other in
terms of politics, we have very, very common challenges," Gen. John
Kelly, Southern Command's leader, told the Associated Press.
Cuba continues to pose a danger to regional stability and has continued
to illicitly move arms to nations like North Korea, according to Cruz.
"Regardless of the diplomatic détente offered to Cuba by the Obama
administration, the regime of Raul and Fidel Castro has been for more
than half a century the implacable enemy of the United States," Cruz wrote.
"They have detained our citizens. They are still harboring fugitives …
they have participated in violent, destabilizing activities through the
region, notably in Colombia and Venezuela," according to Cruz.
The lawmaker has requested that the Pentagon respond to his letter no
later than Jan. 25.
Source: Cruz Seeks to Block Joint U.S.-Cuba Security Exercises -