To rally support for normalizing relations with Cuba, three members of the U.S. Senate, Patrick Leahy (D-VA); Ben Cardin (D-MD); and Dean Heller (R-NV) traveled to Havana, Cuba to meet with representatives of the Castro regime.
The three senators met with First Vice-President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and a number of Cuban citizens.
A top priority for the senators is lifting the travel ban for U.S. citizens to visit the Caribbean island and ending a decades-old trade embargo. Currently, tourism to Cuba is banned and the embargo remains in place.
“I think the Senate can move the House, but the Senate’s going to have to act first,” Heller said of his visit.
Ben Cardin addressed the goals of further negotiations with Cuba.
“We think that can be achieved this year and we can make additional progress next year. We’re optimistic this path that President Obama and President (Raul) Castro started will be continued,” said Cardin.
Although Mr. Obama declared his intent to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba and end the trade embargo in December, 2014, opposition remains among the GOP-controlled Congress. In June, the House overwhelmingly rebuffed a proposed bill aimed at easing travel restrictions, but the Senate is currently debating a similar bill.[reuters]