Republicans Divided over Lifting Blockade against Cuba

Washington, Apr 2.- Republican Senators who joined President Barack Obama in Cuba returned to the United States as champions of the normalization of bilateral relations, the Washington Post reports today.

All the Republicans who made the trip support lifting the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed to Cuba for more than half a century and ending the travel ban – a pair of initiatives that have won quiet support in Congress

Republican Senator Jeff Flake, one of the nearly 40 legislators who joined the president, told the Post that opponents of the blockade have to make as much progress as they can as quickly as they can.

He predicts that Congress will tackle the travel ban this year, and the rest of the sanctions later,” he said.

Flake insisted that lawmakers at least try this year to lift the travel ban, which has been rendered all but legally moot by Obama´s executive order allowing anyone to travel to Cuba so long as they are going for educational purposes, the so-called “people-to-people” exchanges.

Cuba is the only country in the world that U.S. citizens cannot visit as tourists due to the legislation behind the blockade. “But the travel ban, I thought even before recent activities, that we certainly have the votes for it in the Senate”, Flake said.

Karoun Demirjian, author of the article, said that Republicans who accompanied President Obama to Havana unified strategy for how to convince their GOP colleagues to join the cause.

“My takeaway was that this is not going to be as easy or as quickly done as I think President Obama would like,” said Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wisc.), who was part of the delegation. “I know it will not get past a Republican-controlled Congress.”

The Republican Party is still sharply divided over lifting the decades-old embargo against Cuba. Members are pulled between the businesses and farmers that view Cuba as a new market, and the Cuban-Americans who weant to impose conditions on Havana before easing the sanctions, the author concludes.(Prensa Latina)

Radio Cadena Agramonte, April 2, 2016

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