01.22.15

Photos From Senator Patrick Leahy’s Recent Meetings In Cuba

THURSDAY, Jan. 22, 2015) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19 led the first congressional delegation to Cuba following the President’s announced policy change on December 17, the day Leahy escorted Alan Gross home, after Gross spent five years in a Cuban prison.  Leahy and his delegation of four senators and two House members (including Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.) were in Havana for three days of meetings.  They met with Cuban officials to discuss expectations for the normalization of relations, to explore opportunities for greater cooperation, and to encourage Cuban officials to address issues of concern to the American people.  They met with Cuban reformers and activists who have bravely voiced their criticisms of the Castro regime and have been punished for that.  They met with Cardinal Jaime Ortega who, at Leahy’s request, played a role in Pope Francis’s involvement in the U.S.-Cuba breakthrough.  They also met with the ambassadors of other governments in Havana.     

The delegation included Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who headed the delegation; Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.); Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.); Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

A gallery of photos from the Office of Senator Leahy is available at the link, below.  Descriptions of the photos is also below.  Leahy took some of the photos; for the ones in which Leahy is pictured, photo credit is “Office of Senator Patrick Leahy.”

Link: http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/photos/photos-from-senator-patrick-leahys-recent-meetings-in-cuba

Leahy said:  “It was important to go to Cuba soon after the President announced his Cuba policy decision, to hear the reactions of the Cuban people and to discuss the process ahead with government officials.  We spoke to people on the streets of Havana and to activists who have suffered for speaking out against the policies of the Castro government.  Some are unhappy with the President’s decision, but what we heard most of all is that this has given them hope – something the Cuban people have not had for a very, very long time.”

Leahy continued, “With Cuban government officials, we discussed practical steps both governments can take to begin the normalization process.  It will take time, after 53 years of a policy that has not worked.  But we and the Cuban people believe it offers a far better chance of helping them improve their lives and for Cuba to become a more open, freer society.”

Photo 1: Senator Patrick Leahy meets with Abel Prieto Jimenez, former Cuban Minister of Culture and current advisor to Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Photo 2:  Senator Patrick Leahy and Marcelle Leahy meet with Cardinal Jaime Ortega.  In early 2014 Leahy wrote to Cardinal Ortega, who he had first met 15 years earlier, asking the Cardinal, in his upcoming meeting with Pope Francis, that he convey Leahy’s request that the Pope urge President Obama to resolve the cases of Alan Gross and the Cuban Five for humanitarian reasons and to advance the cause of reconciliation between the United States and Cuba.  The Pope did discuss it with President Obama, and he then wrote to both Obama and Raúl Castro.  Cardinal Ortega sought Senators Leahy’s assistance in conveying the Pope’s letter to the President.

Photo 3: Senator Patrick Leahy speaks at a meeting with Cuban officials.

Photo 4: The congressional delegation, shown with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.

Photo 5: Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) speak to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla.

Photo 6: Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) meet with officials in Cuba.  Photo by Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Photo 7:  A taxi row of cars in Havana -- the colorful antiques that have become an iconic image of Cuba. Photo by Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Photo 8: Senator Patrick Leahy and members of the congressional delegation meet with representatives of Cuban dissidents.

Photo 9: Members of the delegation attend a meeting in Cuba.  

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