Three U.S. Senators have visited Cuba in order to discuss lifting the restrictions imposed on U.S. citizens. Their hope is that Congress supports President Barack Obama’s efforts to make closer relations with the Cuban government.
Democrat Senators Patrick Leahy from Vermont and Ben Cardin from Maryland, along with the Republican Senator Dean Heller from Nevada met with the First Vice-President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz- Canel and the Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
At this moment, U.S. Congress has a number of legislations waiting to be debated and voted upon, such as the bill to remove travel restrictions on Americans and a bill to revoke the U.S. economic embargo. The legislation cannot be passed due to a strong opposition by Republicans in the House of Representatives. However, Senators hope that the Upper Chamber will look into the legislation more seriously.
Democrats are urging the Senate to review the measures on the restrictions that have been rejected on the 6th of June by a House vote of 247-176 and according to Reuters, Democrat Senator Cardin while visiting Cuba and talking to regular Cubans has stated that “We think that can be achieved this year and we can make additional progress next year. We are optimistic this path that President Obama and President Raul Castro started will be continued.”
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have announced only recently that they are working on restoring the diplomatic relations that have been hostile since 1961, being part of the Cold War era. There are plans to open embassies in both capitals. These plans were discussed on the Summit of the Americas in April, attended by both leaders who spoke about improving the relations between the countries and looking into the future with ending battles that have started decades ago.
Some Republicans are siding with Obama’s efforts on restoring ties with Cuba, such as Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. According to Reuters, Heller talking about the way this policy should continue stated that he thinks that “The Senate can move the House, but the Senate’s going to have to act first.” In order to animate the House of Representatives and the Senate, both Republican led; the Senate must first pave the way with allowing commercial flights to Cuba.
The bipartisan delegation is hopeful that a collective approach would make things run much smoother and a future diplomatic mission is expected to start very soon, which will take the place of the diplomatic Interest Sections that have been used for years. President Obama is hoping that this act will remain as his signature legacy in foreign relations, which started with the removal of Cuba from the American black list of state sponsors of terrorism, cleaning the way for the normalizing of diplomatic relations and allowing Americans to travel freely.