CUBAN GOVERNMENT BLOCKS KATKO, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FROM ENTERING CUBA
Washington, D.C. – Members of the House Homeland Security Committee, including U.S. Representative John Katko (NY-24), have been blocked by the Cuban government from entering the country to assess security risks associated with resuming air travel between the United States and Cuba. A Congressional Delegation visit was forced to cancel following the Cuban government's failure to issue Members of Congress visas for travel.
On February 16 of this year, U.S. and Cuban officials signed an accord which will allow more than 100 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and Cuba. Representative Katko, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security subcommittee, had previously held a public hearing to address national security concerns associated with resuming air travel to Cuba. However, these efforts were stonewalled when Department of Homeland Security officials refused to answer questions posed by Representative Katko and members of his subcommittee, despite these same officials having previously expressed concerns that Cuba lacks the necessary aviation security capabilities to safely resume air travel between the two countries.
“The Obama Administration has failed to adequately answer basic security questions relating to screening processes in Cuba – and today, the Cuban government has continued to obstruct Congress from gaining answers by blocking Congressional travel to examine these national security concerns,” said Representative Katko. “We still don’t know if Cuba has the adequate body scanners and explosive detection systems in place, whether it has the technology to screen for fraudulent passports or ID, whether or how aviation workers are screened, and if Federal Air Marshals will be allowed to fly missions to Cuba. The Administration is eager to have as many people as possible visit Cuba – except for those who are attempting to examine Cuban security infrastructure.”
Katko noted that the recent MetroJet crash in Egypt and the bombing of the plane as it departed Mogadishu were facilitated by corrupted and radicalized airport workers. Meanwhile, airlines will now be permitted to have operational staff on the ground at minimally ten new Last Point of Departure (LPD) airports to the United States in Cuba.
“From check-in, to screening, to boarding the plane – passengers will only come in contact with personnel working for the Cuban government. This is a government that was only just removed as a state sponsor of terrorism list one year ago and it is not enough to rely on the Castro regime’s word that these airports are secure,” continued Representative Katko. “This Administration is going full speed ahead to open Cuban airports to travel between the U.S. and Cuba while turning a blind eye to major security concerns at a time of heightened terrorist threats.”
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne Counties and the western portion of Oswego County. For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.