Wednesday, August 19, 2015

U.S.-Cuba harmony will take time - Leahy

Leahy: U.S.-Cuba harmony will take time
Paris Achen, Burlington (Vt.) Free Press 8:01 p.m. EDT August 17, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. — U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, saw the result
last week of decades of meeting secretly and publicly with Cuban
officials to normalize relations with the United States. But he says
full rapprochement will take time.

Leahy and his wife, Marcelle Leahy, traveled with U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry to attend the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana
Friday, 54 years after officials severed diplomatic ties between the two

The senator, who has been involved in rapprochement efforts for 20
years, said he teared up when he heard applause from Americans
and Cubans alike as the flag was raised over the embassy and a U.S. Army
band played the Star-Spangled Banner.

"I felt very fortunate to be there," Leahy said. "It was a remarkable,
remarkable time.

"I'll admit that I had a couple of tears flowing, after all these years
to see this."

Leahy, who also led efforts to free imprisoned U.S. aid worker Alan
Gross last December, said full reconciliation between the neighboring
countries will take more time.

Lifting the trade embargo imposed on Cuba in 1961 would open up travel
and educational opportunities for Americans and Cubans, Leahy said.

"It will bring about some changes in their government," he said. "It'll
be much harder for them to have censorship and control their people.

"And it will remove what is really a bad mark on the United States.
There is nowhere in the world you go where you can justify our
restrictions on Cuba."

Leahy said American businesses support lifting the embargo.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce, for instance, has requested a trade
mission in Cuba, Leahy said. Cuba imports its milk from New Zealand. It
would be less expensive to import the milk from the United States, Leahy

The senator and his wife plan to take a vacation to Cuba soon to go
diving near a coral reef reputed to be "better than anywhere in the

Source: Leahy: U.S.-Cuba harmony will take time -

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