Durbin Statement On Congressional Delegation To Cuba

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] –U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after returning from the first congressional delegation visit to Cuba since the United States announced its change of policy:

 “We had a very productive trip. The changes to America’s Cuba policy announced by President Obama last month marked the beginning of a new chapter in American foreign policy. Reestablishing travel and trade relations will mean real benefits for people in Illinois and across the country, from farmers to small businesses to working families. But this policy change is about more than just travel and trade—it’s about opening Cuba to new ideas, new values, and improved human rights that our 50 year old policy of exclusion could not achieve. Already, just one month after a change in US policy, many Cuban reformers and activists told us of a renewed sense of hope for the first time in a long time in Cuba.

 “But such a new and dramatic development in our relationship with Cuba won’t change these things overnight, and we have to be realistic about the prospects for fully lifting the embargo on Cuba with legislation in a Congress where a single senator can scuttle it. But the American people are ready for this change and my colleagues and I are committed to getting it done.”

 The U.S. delegation included Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Congressmen Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Peter Welch (D-VT). The delegation met with Cuban government officials, members of the opposition and civil society, and officials from the U.S. interests section in Havana.