U.S. Senate Proposes Two Dueling Cuban Commerce Laws

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Written by Larry Press

Two proposed laws in the U.S. Senate take opposite approaches to Cuba and telecommunications trade. Larry Press commentary.

aNewDomain — The historic change in Cuba and U.S. relations has created a stir in embargo politics. Two dueling Cuban commerce laws have been proposed in the U.S. Senate.

These come on the heels of the fact sheet the White House published last December, called Charting a New Course on Cuba. It stated:

“Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and Internet services, which will improve telecommunications between the United States and Cuba.”

The Proposed Laws

The first proposed law is called The Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act (DATA). It has bipartisan representation in the Senate, spearheaded by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming). The Act would enable U.S. telecommunications and Internet companies to provide services and devices in Cuba.

The second law is called the Cuban U.S. Claims Settlement Act (CUCSA). It was introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and David Vitter (R-Louisiana). The Act would require Cuba to address unpaid and unsettled legal claims with the U.S. before restrictions could be eased on travel and trade with Cuba.


The DATA Act may sound redundant to some, but a law that specifically legalizes Internet and communications trade with Cuba is important. Without that, the courts or the next president could reverse President Obama’s Cuba policy. And, it seems pretty clear, DATA is a much better acronym than CUCSA. And, on top of all that, it’s a bipartisan law! When was the last time that happened?

There’s also a current law, The Helms-Burton Act, that prohibits “the investment by any United States person in the domestic telecommunications network within Cuba.”

The reality is that Cuba is rolling out infrastructure now, and if U.S. laws don’t drop the telecommunications embargo with, say, the DATA Act, U.S. companies will miss the boat. Both proposed laws will have a lot more nuances than their single-sentence summaries, and I’m curious what the specifics will be.

Lastly, and in regards to CUCSA, Cuba has a host of claims against the U.S. for damage caused by the trade embargo. So that country would likely not respond well to such a law.

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Image credit: Larry Press