Cuba Mum on Visit by US Senators

February 18, 2013 | Print Print |
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.


What's your opinion?

  • http://www.mycubanblog.com/ Charles Boesen

    Well I’ll be damned?? What is up with this? Can’t wait to hear…

  • Moses Patterson

    When the Prime Minister of Palau, a country the size of my health club, visits Cuba to sign a joint agreement to celebrate Mother’s Day, it is front page Granma news. But when five US Senators and a couple members of Congress are in town, not a peep. Why? Because it is hard to say the US is not trying to improve relations when we are sending Congressional delegations to do just that. How many members of Cuba’s kangaroo parliament have visited Washington D.C? None! Cuba would do well to learn from the lesson of ancient Egypt. Moses (not me, the other one) warned them to let his people go. These Senators will ask for Alan Gross’ release. They should listen to them.

    • ac

      And that’s exactly why they aren’t talking about it. They are going to push for Gross release and Cuba said it was ready for an agreement on the matter, but if this goes public before the negotiations it probably wont happen at all. After all, the trading chip on the table are Cuban five that have been imprisoned by 15+ years, if Gross is released before the time without an equivalent gesture by US it will be disastrous for Raul domestic perception.
      As for learning from Moses, they better not. An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth will be a painful lesson for Gross and 15 years is a long time. And in any case Moses is not a figure that should be admired by anyone, after all he broke all speed records about breaking Gods rules -the same he was supposed to teach- starting by the tablets themselves, followed by thou shall not kill and thou shall honor father and mother.

      • griffin

        ” if Gross is released before the time without an equivalent gesture by US it will be disastrous for Raul domestic perception.”

        Excuse me? Are you under the impression Raul gives a hoot what the Cuban people think?

        Moses’ tablets also warned the people not to covet thy neighbour’s house. Ironically, the entire Castro revolution has been based on doing exactly that: coveting houses, cars, businesses, farms… all private property was coveted by the State and stolen from the rightful owners. The end result has been the impoverishment of Cuba.

        There’s a lot of truth in those old laws.

        • ac

          Yes, and I’m serious about it. And believe it or not Cuba is still a republic and Raul was properly elected by the national assembly and confirmed by public vote. Freeing Gross while the Cuban five rot in US prisons will be catastrophic to the point of compromise his ability to govern the country.

          Like it or not, a president governs because of the will of its people or at least the will of certain segments of the population. Segments that will be really annoyed by an unilateral concession, specially after 15 years of ideological hammering about the injustice of the imprisonment of the Cuban five.

          • Moses Patterson

            I hear you AC. However the Castros leadership record says differently. The ten million ton sugar harvest, the super cow, the agricultural ring around Havana and many other decisions which affected the whole of Cuba and made by one man. I agree with Griffin, “La China” or his big brother have never cared what the Cuban people would think about anything they said or did. Worse, they dared to believe they could do what they wanted, and then tell the people what to think about it. So far they have done exactly what they pleased.

          • ac

            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

        • LoRealMaravilloso

          Yes, of course it led to the impoverishment of Cuba because those who coveted never had to work for what they got. It was given to them on the pretext that the rich exploited the poor. Castro took out the hard working middle class in favor of the illiterate, thieves, wife beaters like my neighbor (in jail), and of those who thought they deserved what they got from others who left the island labeled as “worms.” Of course it was never taken into consideration that Cuba had a healthy middle class and that home owners were not the rich but people who had worked for what they owned like my father and family. Nationalization of businesses came at “Pepe Cojones” – in deductive philosophy – because we can, our “Rock” rules, and we command.