Durbin Travels to Cuba and Haiti

Plans to Focus on Economic and Social Reforms in Cuba, Earthquake Recovery and International Aid Projects in Haiti

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) is in Havana, Cuba where he been holding two days of high-level meetings with Cuban officials.


The trip has focused on changes in Cuba - including Cuba’s substantial offshore drilling proposal - as well as discussions on improved relations between the US and the island nation. Durbin also pressed the Cuban government to release Alan Gross, a USAID contract worker who has been jailed since 2009. Gross was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison for providing Cuba’s small Jewish community with communications equipment to help them access the internet.


Durbin, the second-highest ranking member of the Senate and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, President of the National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, Archbishop Jamie Ortega, Members of the International Diplomatic Community, the staff of the US Interests Section and Cuban reformers.


Following his meetings in Cuba, Senator Durbin will travel to Haiti where he will meet with Haitian officials, aid workers and locals, to monitor US and international efforts to rebuild after the country was devastated by an earthquake. Durbin plans to focus on the new Haitian government’s rebuilding efforts, assess the effectiveness of non-governmental aid work as well as US foreign assistance programs and urge continued efforts toward improving water and sanitation systems.


While in country, Durbin will meet with Haitian President Michel Martelly, Prime Minister Gerry Conille, local Haitian officials, US Government officials and international aid workers. Durbin also plans to tour neighborhoods affected by the 2010 earthquake, visit aid camps, and an orphanage.


Durbin has visited Haiti in the past and has worked on legislation that would help the country improve its access to clean water and sanitation. He is the author of the Paul Simon Water for the World Act which would make access to clean water and sanitation a pillar of US foreign assistance programs. He’s also the author of the Haiti Reforestation Act, which would provide US aid and expertise in reforesting much of the island nation. Deforestation has left the country vulnerable to hurricane damage, landslides and unclean water.


Durbin will return to Illinois on Friday, January 20th