Reaction Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) To The President’s Announcement Of The Plan To Open A U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba

“Finally, after 55 years a failed, punitive and ineffective policy of isolation is ending.  After 55 years, the wealthiest, most powerful nation -- which stands for ideals aspired to by people around the world – will be represented by an official embassy where we can put our best face forward on behalf of the American people as well as the Cuban people.  I commend President Obama and President Castro for this historic step which signifies the formal beginning of a new and more constructive chapter in U.S.–Cuban relations.  The people of our countries have always had far more in common than their differences, and they overwhelmingly favor this step.  We can now get to work in finding ways to bring them closer together by ending the restrictions on travel and trade that have only provided excuses for the failed policies of the past.”

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[Leahy has worked behind the scenes for a decade to lay the groundwork to replace the failed 50-year-old policy on Cuba with a path to normalized relations.  He headed his most recent congressional delegation meetings in Cuba last weekend.  On Dec. 17 he went to Havana to bring home Alan Gross.  He was joined on that flight by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.  Leahy also is the longtime chair/ranking member of the State Department’s budget committee, the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Flake and Leahy also are the leading sponsors of legislation -- pending before the Senate -- to end the ban on travel by Americans to Cuba.]

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