Durbin Statement on Opening of Embassies with Cuba

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that the U.S. and Cuba have reached an agreement to open embassies in each other's capitals. 


Opening our embassy in Havana will begin to open Cuba to the value of our democracy,” said Durbin.  “Our foreign policy over the last 50 years in Cuba has failed to end the Castro dictatorship.  The power of new ideas and the force of an open economy and an open society will succeed.”


In January, Durbin participated in the first congressional delegation visit to Cuba since the United States announced its change of policy.  After returning, he joined with a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015 which would end restrictions in laws enacted in 1996 and 2000 on travel by American citizens and legal residents to Cuba—restrictions that do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world.  The bill would also end restrictions on transactions related to travel, such as banking transactions.


Senator Durbin also joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba, repealing the 1961 authorization for establishing the trade embargo and amending subsequent laws and restrictive statutes.  The bill would pave the way for new economic opportunities for American businesses and farmers by boosting US exports and allow Cubans greater access to American goods. 


This spring, Durbin joined another bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act – or Cuba DATA Act – that would enable U.S. telecommunications and Internet companies to provide their services and devices in Cuba.  Cuba is one of the least wired countries in the western hemisphere, leaving many Cubans unable to access the Internet for things like business development, political discourse and personal communications.