Why This Senator Thinks That US Embargo on Cuba Will Not Happen Under the Obama Administration
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker doesn't think that the United States' embargo on Cuba will be lifted under Barack Obama's presidency.
"It's not going to happen this year," Corker told reporters at an event prepared by the Christian Science Monitor. "It's something that could happen as we move into a new president."
The Tennessee Republican stressed that there are "still tremendous human rights abuses that take place in Cuba," and these mistreatments would make it hard for lawmakers to advance the process for the lifting of the embargo. However, he said that Congress could still push through with the process "if Cuba were to evolve its behavior."
The United States' economic embargo on Cuba was imposed in the early 1960s. Despite President Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba in late 2014, the embargo remains in place and only an act from Congress can lift it.
Since embassies reopened in Havana and Washington, the United States removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Both sides have held discussions about increasing travel and business opportunities.
Last week, Rodrigo Malmierca Díaz, Cuba's minister of foreign trade and investment, promised Congress that American firms would not face discrimination if they attempt to enter the Cuban market.
"I believe the roads we have started to walk on is the right one," Malmierca Díaz said at a press conference. "No matter what, we're going to maintain the disposition to normalize our relations with the U.S."
U.S. Politicians' Divided Views
Corker said that he recently met with a Republican senator who is in favor of lifting the embargo and an investor considering business opportunities in Cuba. Corker noted that he thinks the United States-Cuba relations will "gradually" move along this year.
The Treasury and Commerce departments have rolled out a series of rule changes to convince U.S. companies to invest in Cuba. This month, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed a deal with Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo to resume scheduled airline flights to the island for the first time after 53 years.
Politicians in Florida, however, are opposed to lifting the embargo. These include some influential lawmakers like GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who are both Cuban Americans. Former Florida governor and Republican Jeb Bush also doesn't favor lifting the embargo.
Obama will visit Cuba from March 21 to March 22. The trip makes him the first sitting United States president to visit Havana in nearly 90 years. The president said in his weekly address that his visit will include a meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro to discuss business and easier access to trade and the Internet.
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