Vice President Joe Biden said this week that President Obama had no intention of ending the embargo of Cuba when he attends the Summit of the Americas in mid-April, but as Senator Richard Lugar and his senior staff member, Carl Meacham, outlined in a Senate Foreign Relations Commitee Print on US-Cuba relations, there is a vast amount of “unclenching the fist” that can be accomplished within the structure of the current embargo — even though I believe that embargo has failed to achieve its objectives for decades and is damaging to American national interests.
Tomorrow — Tuesday — Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are hosting a media event along with human rights groups as well as business and agricultural representatives to announce the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act.”
The Washington Post‘s Karen DeYoung and Shailagh Murray capture the progressive momentum of what may be ahead in US-Cuba relations today. . .despite the momentary chill that Biden’s comments caused.
Enzi and Dorgan have introduced the bill along with co-sponsors Senators Christopher Dodd and Richard Lugar. More Senators are joining up — including John Barrasso (R-WY), Max Baucus (D-MT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Rusell Feingold (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Harkin (D-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Benard Sanders (I-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The press conference will take place at noon iin Room SVC-203 of the United States Capitol Visitors Center and will also feature Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation; Myron Brilliant, Senior Vice President of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; and Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director, Americas Division, Human Rights Watch.
Congressman William Delahunt will be unveiling a very large list — larger than what Delahunt’s team had in hand last Congress — on the companion bill in the House of Representatives at a big gathering on Thursday this week (he may drop the list to the press today). I’ll have more details on that later.
Unfortunately, I cannot attend tomorrow’s meeting — but hope that other readers, writers, bloggers will — and report back.
I’ll be moderating a meeting in New York on the G-20 London Summit taking place this week, but I am watching these US-Cuba policy developments closely.
– Steve Clemons