U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and a coalition of congressional Democrats have arrived to Cuba in an effort to help improve U.S. and Cuba's diplomatic relations.

"This delegation travels to Cuba in friendship and to build upon the announcement of U.S. normalization of relations and other initiatives announced by President Obama," Pelosi said in a statement released by her office on Tuesday.

Pelosi's trip to Cuba comes after Roberta Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, became the first highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit Cuba since President Jimmy Carter was in office.

"This delegation will work to advance the U.S.-Cuba relationship and build on the work done by many in the Congress over the years, especially with respect to agriculture and trade," the statement from Pelosi's office continued.

The Democratic delegation is scheduled to meet with Cuban government officials, Cuba's Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega and local community leaders.

Pelosi's Democratic delegation includes Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee; Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee; and Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the co-chair of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.

The trip comes as a bipartisan Senate legislation was drafted to lift the Cuba trade embargo. Known as the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, the bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. According to a statement from Klobuchar's office, the bill would eliminate legal barriers for Americans to conduct business in Cuba and allow the Cuban population greater access to U.S. goods.

"It's time to the turn the page on our Cuba policy," said Klobuchar. "Fifty years of the embargo have not secured our interests in Cuba and have disadvantaged American businesses by restricting commerce with a market of 11 million people just 90 miles from our shores. There are many issues in our relationship with Cuba that must be addressed, but this legislation to lift the embargo will begin to open up new opportunities for American companies, boost job creation and exports, and help improve the quality of life for the Cuban people."

President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries on Dec. 17, 2014. Since the announcement, Pelosi has support the Obama administration's efforts for diplomacy with Cuba.

In a statement following Obama's announcement, Pelosi said, "After more than 50 years, it is clear that policy of isolating Cuba is serving neither the interests of the American people nor the democratic aspirations of the Cubans. We must acknowledge our policy towards Cuba is a relic of a bygone era that weakens our leadership in the Americas and has not advanced freedom and prosperity in Cuba."

As Latin Post reported, Castro has said the ongoing normalizing relations will be "meaningless" if the U.S. interferes in Cuban affairs and wants the return of Guantanamo Bay. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro disclosed he had no involvement with the diplomatic relations. The former leader said he still does not trust U.S. policy but is not against a "pacific solution" between the two countries.

Pelosi is expected to hold a press conference from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.


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