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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 . 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 , 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 , research and trade, but also to
create, through information and transparency, the 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
presidents.”

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 . It is about
opening up a relationship to exchange ideas and that this opening to
ideas will help to foster values and basic .”

During the brief trip the members of Congress did not meet with
President , 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 –
http://translatingcuba.com/us-congressional-delegation-concludes-visit-to-cuba-14ymedio/

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