Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) highlighted the 22 agreements signed between the two countries over recent years; ranging from environmental protection to cooperation in the application and enforcement of the law. He also noted that the majority of U.S. citizens support the expansion of ties between the two nations.
Speaking during a press conference at the end of the delegation’s three-day visit, Leahy added that the U.S. business, scientific, and educational sectors are interested in exchanges with Cuba.
Leahy has been actively working to build bridges between Havana and Washington, and expressed confidence that the Trump administration will listen to the voices of the many people who support the ongoing process of rapprochement.
He went on to state that, in his opinion, the lifting of the blockade is inevitable.
In this regard, the current administration has reported that the Cuba policy is under review.
The delegation from the United States Congress was led by Leahy and Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), and included Senators Thomas Udall (D-New Mexico) and Michael Bennett (D-Colorado), and Representatives James McGovern and Seth Moulton, Democrats from Massachusetts.
Senator Udall, speaking about potential Congressional action regarding Cuba, did not rule out the possibility of seeing some of the proposals featured in the big packages of legislative bills, such Omnibus spending bills, becoming law.
However, despite the December 17, 2014 announcements and then U.S. President Barack Obama’s call to Congress to work to lift the blockade, no concrete action has been taken.
Certain aspects of the blockade have been modified, but the bulk of this aggressive U.S. policy against Cuba remains in force, and only Congress has the authority to definitively lift it.
Various bills regarding key aspects of the blockade – such as removing restrictions on trade with the country, and ending the ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba for tourist purposes – are currently making their way through Congress.
Senator McGovern noted that many of these issues are of interest to both parties, explaining that he himself is co-sponsoring a bill in the House of Representatives, with Republican Senator Jeff Flake, regarding travel to Cuba.
For his part Leahy highlighted the growing support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, for a thawing in relations with a country located just 90 miles from the U.S. coast.
During the press conference, the legislators also spoke about their official meeting with Army General Raúl Castro, on February 21.
They noted that Cuba has been clear its position toward the United States, citing remarks made by Army General Raúl Castro in his speech before the Fifth Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, held in the Dominican Republic, January 25, 2017.
“I wish to express Cuba’s willingness to continue negotiating pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis of equality, reciprocity and respect for the sovereignty and independence of our country, and to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation on issues of common interest with the new government of President Donald Trump,” stated Raúl at that time.