Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The President’s Address To The Cuban People

[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is part of the President’s U.S. delegation in Cuba.  Leahy is the ranking member of the State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and for a decade has worked behind the scenes to change the failed 50-year-old U.S. policy on Cuba.]

“It was a powerful speech, and I was privileged to be in the hall where it was given.  It received applause from both Cubans and U.S. citizens.

“There was criticism of actions by the Cuban government and acknowledgements of some mistakes by our government.  I was sitting near President Castro, and I thought his reaction was genuine when he stood to applaud President Obama when he finished. 

“I talked with Cuban leaders, and with church leaders like Cardinal Ortega, who brought the message from the Pope to the President, and they all agreed the speech signaled a remarkable turning point in our relations.  I know how far we’ve come in a year, but I also know there still is a long way to go.” 

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