Washington, D.C.—Today the White House is expected to announce that President Obama will travel to Cuba in the near future. This trip, which might include other countries in the hemisphere, will be a historic and important step in the process of normalizing relations with Cuba and in ending decades of hostility and mistrust. While the embargo is still in place, recent developments indicate that there is growing momentum in Congress to end it.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization, has been advocating for engagement with Cuba for over 20 years. Geoff Thale, WOLA’s Director of Programs, issued the following statement:
“The President's visit will put the final stone in the tomb of the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere. This trip signals that the United States will handle its partnerships, and its differences, in a new and more respectful manner.
President Obama has engaged with governments across the political spectrum in Latin America. He has visited eight Latin American countries during his tenure and participated in Summit meetings with nearly every President of Latin America. It's about time that he put Cuba on this list.
Obama's trip to Cuba will earn him praise from governments throughout the hemisphere, and will help move forward biltateral discussions on human rights, people-to-people relationships, and commercial partnerships.”
Marc Hanson, Senior Associate for Cuba, issued the following statement:
“Going to Cuba matters. It shows that U.S. is no longer treating Cuba with a double standard and as an illegitimate government. With this trip, Obama affirms his standing as one of the most consequential Presidents vis-a-vis recasting U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. His tone, his persistence, his willingness to listen and hear the concerns from around region has focused U.S. attention on issues that really matter to people and partner governments across Latin America.
Along with the President’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, congressional interest in ending the embargo is growing. Last year, a number of Republicans introduced various bills that would effectively undermine the embargo. Furthermore, a newly formed bipartisan working group in the House of Representatives, with 8 Republicans and 8 Democrats, indicates the change underway.”