Cuba Mum on Visit by US Senators

View from San Lazaro St. in Havana's Vedado district. Photo: Ernesto González
View from San Lazaro St. in Havana’s Vedado district. Photo: Ernesto González

HAVANA TIMES — A delegation of five US Senators and two House members arrived in Cuba on Monday but you wouldn’t know it from the Cuban online and print media, which have thus far chosen to ignore the visit.

The high level congressional delegation is expected to meet with  Cuban foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, outgoing parliament chair Ricardo Alarcon and possibly President Raul Castro, reported Reuters.

The news agency said the US politicians would also visit the former home of author Ernest Hemingway, now a museum on the outskirts of the capital, and meet with the diplomatic corps.

The group is led by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and includes fellow Democratic Party Senators, Debbie Stabenow (Michigan), Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Also part of the delegation is Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake and Democratic House of Representatives members Jim McGovern (Massachusetts) and Chris Van Hollen (Maryland).

The agenda of the US legislators is said to include Alan Gross, 63, a covert US operative serving a 15-year sentence for violating Cuban security laws. They are also seeking information about the economic, property related and immigration reforms instituted by the Castro government.

The overall goal of the visit appears to be seeking out a path to improved US-Cuba relations.

“Every one of us has an interest in Cuba,” Leahy told the foreign press upon his arrival. “We all want to see relations improve and both sides take steps in that direction,” he added.

The United States maintains a half century embargo on Cuba to try and bring down the Castro government through economic hardship.  It also forbids ordinary US citizens from traveling to Cuba without a special US Treasury Dept. license.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government welcomes tourists from all countries including the US. It has garnered support from 188 countries at the United Nations in calling for an end to the embargo which includes third country sanctions for doing business with Cuba.


9 thoughts on “Cuba Mum on Visit by US Senators

  • February 21, 2013 at 8:32 am
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    Sorry, I was in a hurry and I don’t think I explained properly my previous point. The examples you made, even the ones with long lasting effects that devastated Cuba economy like the 10 million harvest were of small political impact within the island and from a strictly political POV served their purpose.

    Allow me to focus in the 10 million sugar harvest, because is the worst of the ones you mentioned and the one with the most negative side effects.

    For starters, what exactly did Fidel lost on failure to harvest the target amount? Nothing absolutely. They mobilized the whole population and make them all work towards a common goal, if said goal wasn’t achieved it was a failure shared amongst everyone.

    In the other hand, making everyone work together increased the feeling of union and camaraderie amongst Cubans, and served as cheap propaganda scheme to show party members and political honchos taking leadership and showing themselves as an example for the whole society

    And as an US citizen should know by now, people have very short memory and when in successive years the sugar production fell to alarming lower levels, it was easy to blame the minister in charge, remove some heads and reshuffle the industry.

    My point is, the whole thing didn’t caused any political damage and worked to advance the interests of Castro’s power base, even if it was a leadership failure. This is a completely different history and an unilateral gesture from him will be seen as a individual betrayal.

    But fear not, they did indeed talked about the Gross problem and other bilateral issues and made some sort of agreement, just check the news today:

    http://bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/02/21/cuba-label-terrorist-state-longer-justified-some-officials-say/CmVFXsVC4M1R1WbHE8lb0H/story.html

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