HAVANA TIMES, Aug. 18 – A delegation of U.S. Catholic bishops is in Cuba to see progress on the repairs from damage caused by three hurricanes in 2008. The US Catholic community donated 1.1 million dollars to the recovery effort.
However, Reuters claims that the main reason for the four-day trip “is to send a message to the White House that it must move more quickly to improve US-Cuba relations.”
Father Andrew Small, director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Collection for the Church in Latin America told the news agency: “Isolate doesn’t help change. There has to be a greater contact. And the Obama administration has been, unfortunately, encouraging but painfully slow.”
Under the Obama administration, both the travel ban against US citizens visiting Cuba and the nearly half century economic blockade remain in place. The two countries did sit down to a round of negotiations on migration matters and the level of open hostility has eased some.
A stumbling block has been the State Department’s insistence to put unacceptable conditions on talks that could lead to a restoration of diplomatic relations. Cuba refuses to accept the US dictating its internal policies as a prelude to any negotiations.