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    US Congressional delegation concludes visit to Cuba

    US Congressional delegation concludes visit to Cuba / 14ymedio
    Posted on January 20, 2015

    14ymedio, 19 January 2015– Monday afternoon several United States
    members of Congress visiting Cuba held a press conference at the
    Saratoga Hotel. The meeting with foreign correspondents and independent
    media addressed the talks between the two governments and served as a
    culmination of the congressional delegation’s visit to the island.

    Senator Patrick Leahy, in his remarks, emphasized that US policy toward
    Cuba “changed overnight.” He also spoke about the cooperation received
    from the Catholic Church, especially Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino.

    Leahy was visibly moved when he touched on the release of US contractor
    Alan Gross, whom the senator accompanied on his journey back to the
    United States on the day of his release, this last December 17.

    When asked if these negotiations would vary in any way the help that the
    American government provides to the internal dissidence in Cuba, Senator
    Deborah Ann Stabenow said, “Our long-term goal is not only to create
    relationships involving the economy, research and trade, but also to
    create, through information and transparency, the freedom that the Cuban
    people deserve and need.”

    “We have to take it a step at a time,” Stabenow emphasized, saying that
    this visit is very important. “We are the first group to come to Cuba
    since President Obama made his decision … well, the decision of both

    With regards to the economic situation in Cuba and the possible relief
    for the Cuban population that reestablishment of economic relations
    could bring the senator added, “We don’t want people to continually be
    worrying about if there will be potatoes or pork or beef or milk or
    fruit in the markets.”

    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, for his part, said that most of the meetings
    held so far have perceived a “time of hope.” “People are very excited
    and the more contact there is, the more we will notice the difference,”
    added the representative from Maryland Christopher Van Hollen. “We have
    to move forward with what can be done with regards to practical
    matters,” said Van Hollen.

    Senator Richard Joseph Durbin, from Illinois, stressed the historical
    character of the visit of the high level American delegation, led by
    Roberta Jackson, that will arrive in Cuba this coming Wednesday. “What
    we are doing is more than opening up to trade and travel. It is about
    opening up a relationship to exchange ideas and that this opening to
    ideas will help to foster values and basic human rights.”

    During the brief trip the members of Congress did not meet with
    President Raul Castro, but they did hold a meeting with dissidents on
    Sunday. In statements to 14ymedio, Durbin replied to the question of
    whether the meeting with activists may have influenced the fact that the
    General did not receive them. “I do not know what the decision process
    was, but every time I visit a country I have tried to listen to both
    sides of the story and that’s what we did yesterday.” To which he added
    “We will continue to do that and I hope that [the government of] Cuba
    respects the fact that that’s what we do wherever we travel.”

    The members of Congress concluded their visit this afternoon and
    returned to the United States. During their visit to the island they met
    with Bruno Rodríguez, Minister of Foreign Affairs, leaders of the
    Catholic Church and a group of dissidents.

    Source: US Congressional delegation concludes visit to Cuba / 14ymedio |
    Translating Cuba –