Cuba thaw will continue despite Trump threats: US Congress delegation

Havana, Feb 23 (IANS) A bipartisan delegation of US congressmen expressed their support for thawing ties between Washington and Havana despite recent threats by US President Donald Trump to revert the historic opening.

In a press conference on Wednesday, before ending a three-day trip to the island, the delegation of senators and representatives said that, over the last two years, both nations had made progress in numerous areas and that there was “overwhelming” support in both countries to deepen the ties, Xinhua news agency reported.

“I have no idea what Donald Trump will do in regards to policy towards Cuba and we hope that he agrees that engagement is much better than isolation. I’m certain he can’t go back to the past because too many accomplishments have been achieved,” said Jim McGovern, a Democrat congressman from Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator from Vermont, said the trip showed that there was bipartisan support in Congress to continue the policy started by former President Barack Obama and to move forward with initiatives to end the economic embargo on the island.

“I would not be here today if I didn’t think that continuation and progress is inevitable. It might not be the smoothest of paths but it will continue,” added Leahy.

The delegation, also composed of Democrat senators Thomas Udall and Michael Bennet as well as Republican senator Thad Cochran, met with several Cuban officials, including President Raul Castro.

“We are cooperating in numerous areas and are doing significant things together. President Castro made it clear to us that he wants all of this to continue. We met a good number of government officials and we feel the Cubans want this policy to move forward,” stated Leahy.

He also said Castro made it clear that while he will step down as president in 2018, he will continue to work to deepen relations between the former Cold War enemies.