Durbin Report: Opening Relations With Cuba Will Benefit Illinois and America

Senator Durbin's eNewsletter
2015-02-04 20:30:10
Fellow Illinoisans, Early last month I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with a Congressional delegation of Senators and Congressmen. It was the first such trip since President Obama announced a change in policy toward the island nation and I’m happy to report we had a very productive experience. We met with Cuban Archbishop Jamie Ortega, who shared a wonderful story about Pope Francis’s efforts to improve relations between the US and Cuba. We also met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, many Cuban reformers, activists, and foreign ambassadors based in Havana. In these meetings we learned more about several of Cuba’s main industries including agriculture, telecommunications and science and technology – all areas of considerable potential for greater U.S.- Cuban cooperation. As I have said many times, I am not a fan of the Castro regime. It has a troubling history of abusing human rights and suppressing peaceful political dissent. The regime has squandered the talents of so many of its own people by imposing frozen economic and political systems. But, for some time I have argued that our policy toward Cuba – one that has spanned eleven U.S. presidents – has failed to bring about the reforms and greater openness that all of us hope to see. That’s why I support the President’s decision to change relations with Cuba. It’s also why I joined a bipartisan group of Senators last week to introduce legislation that would lift the American travel embargo on Cuba. Americans shouldn’t have restrictions on their freedom to travel overseas. We don’t restrict people from traveling to nations with whom we fought a devastating war, such as Vietnam. We don’t restrict Americans from traveling to countries with troubling regimes such as North Korea, Iran, or Uzbekistan. Even during the height of the Cold War, Americans were allowed to travel to the then-Soviet Union. So why Cuba? Why still today? It simply makes no sense. The change in policy with Cuba will also pay dividends when it comes to business in Illinois. Opening trade will benefit Illinois’ soybean and corn growers. The Illinois Farm Bureau has already said that trade between the U.S. and Cuba could mean up to $7 million more a year in sales for Illinois farmers. If agricultural businesses are allowed to trade with Cuba, we can vastly improve not just our own economic standing, but the everyday lives of the Cuban people who have lived under strict food rations for decades. I believe that ultimately it will be this new flow of American engagement and ideas that will help open up Cuba and improve the lives of the Cuban people. Certainly we ought to try something different after more than fifty years of a policy that wasn’t working. I am delighted to see Illinois community colleges are planning to visit to the nation in order to explore room for growth in the educational sector. As we begin the process of putting an American embassy in Cuba, I hope Congress can be supportive of the Administration’s efforts so Americans and Cubans alike can reap the rewards of a renewed relationship. Stay Informed Stay informed on what I am doing for Illinois and what is happening in Congress by visiting my website at durbin.senate.gov/. If you have a question, a comment, or are in need of assistance, please contact my office at one of the phone numbers below or send me an email at 1.usa.gov/po1U4x Office phone numbers: Washington, DC: (202) 224-2152 Chicago: (312) 353-4952 Springfield: (217) 492-4062 Carbondale: (618) 351-1122 Rock Island: (309) 786-5173 You can also follow me at: facebook.com/SenatorDurbin twitter.com/SenatorDurbin flickr.com/SenatorDurbin youtube.com/SenatorDurbin Sincerely, Dick Durbin If you did not sign up to receive this email or no longer wish to receive future updates, you can unsubscribe here: durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/enewsletter-unsubscribe Sent from the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

Early last month I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with a Congressional delegation of Senators and Congressmen. It was the first such trip since President Obama announced a change in policy toward the island nation and I’m happy to report we had a very productive experience.

We met with Cuban Archbishop Jamie Ortega, who shared a wonderful story about Pope Francis’s efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba. We also met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, many Cuban reformers, activists, and foreign ambassadors based in Havana. In these meetings we learned more about several of Cuba’s main industries including agriculture, telecommunications and science and technology – all areas of considerable potential for greater U.S.- Cuban cooperation.


As I have said many times, I am not a fan of the Castro regime. It has a troubling history of abusing human rights and suppressing peaceful political dissent. The regime has squandered the talents of so many of its own people by imposing frozen economic and political systems. But, for some time I have argued that our policy toward Cuba – one that has spanned eleven U.S. presidents – has failed to bring about the reforms and greater openness that all of us hope to see.


That’s why I support the President’s decision to change relations with Cuba. It’s also why I joined a bipartisan group of Senators last week to introduce legislation that would lift the American travel embargo on Cuba.


Americans shouldn’t have restrictions on their freedom to travel overseas. We don’t restrict people from traveling to nations with whom we fought a devastating war, such as Vietnam. We don’t restrict Americans from traveling to countries with troubling regimes such as North Korea, Iran, or Uzbekistan. Even during the height of the Cold War, Americans were allowed to travel to the then-Soviet Union. So why Cuba? Why still today? It simply makes no sense.

The change in policy with Cuba will also pay dividends when it comes to business in Illinois. Opening trade will benefit Illinois’"soybean and corn growers. The Illinois Farm Bureau has already said that trade between the U.S. and Cuba could mean up to $7"million more a year in sales for Illinois farmers. If agricultural businesses are allowed to trade with Cuba, we can vastly improve not just our own economic standing, but the everyday lives of the Cuban people who have lived under strict food rations for decades.

I believe that ultimately it will be this new flow of American engagement and ideas that will help open up Cuba and improve the lives of the Cuban people. Certainly we ought to try something different after more than fifty years of a policy that wasn’t working. I am delighted to see Illinois"community colleges are planning to visit to the nation in order to explore room for growth in the educational sector. As we begin the process of putting an American embassy in Cuba, I hope Congress can be supportive of the Administration’s efforts so Americans and Cubans alike can reap the rewards of a renewed relationship.

Stay Informed

Stay informed on what I am doing for Illinois and what is happening in Congress by visiting my website.  If you have a question, a comment, or are in need of assistance, please contact my office at one of the phone numbers below or send"me an email.

Office phone numbers:

Washington, DC: (202) 224-2152
Chicago: (312) 353-4952
Springfield: (217) 492-4062
Carbondale: (618) 351-1122
Rock Island: (309) 786-5173

You can also follow me on these services:

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Sent from the office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin