Congress should take a hard look at American policy toward Cuba and debate whether Washington’s 45-year-old embargo is working, visiting U.S. lawmakers said Tuesday.
Headed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, the five-member bipartisan delegation is spending five days in Cuba to discuss farm trade, meet with Cuban officials and catch a glimpse of life on the communist-run island.
“It’s bipartisan but it’s also with different histories with regard to lifting the embargo and travel restrictions,” DeLauro, who favors easing U.S. sanctions, said of the group.
She said the dialogue and increased understanding “helps us to move forward on legislation in the Congress.”
The embargo prohibits most Americans from visiting Cuba and chokes off nearly all trade between the countries. But direct sales of U.S. food and agricultural products have been allowed since 2000.
Proposals to further ease trade and travel restrictions have been introduced in both houses of Congress, though similar measures have failed in years past.
Rep. Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who has supported U.S. sanctions against the island, said there is no reason not to continue talks on trade with Cuba.
“It’s clear both countries could get a lot out of trade agreements on almost any commodity,” Kingston said. “But our job as members of Congress isn’t just to look at business proposals, but the politics, the diplomacy, the human rights standpoints.”
Also visiting Cuba were U.S. Representatives Rodney Alexander, a Louisiana Republican; Bob Etheridge, a North Carolina Democrat, and Marion Berry, an Arkansas Democrat.