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miércoles, 21 de enero de 2015

Sen. Corker calls Cuba embargo ineffective



WASHINGTON — The U.S. embargo of Cuba hasn't worked, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Wednesday in his first comments about the strict 53-year-old policy that President Obama is loosening.
"This is a policy ... that has not yielded the result we had hoped it would yield, obviously. I think that's pretty apparent," Corker said in conference call with reporters.
The statement from the new Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee signals general agreement with Obama that the economic and diplomatic sanctions isolating Cuba's communist government have not led to the desired democratic reforms.
But Corker did not stake out a position on whether the embargo, initiated by presidential actions starting in the early 1960s and enacted by Congress in 1996, should be relaxed or lifted.
"We're going to have some robust hearings," Corker said. "There are heartfelt feelings on both sides."
Corker's predecessor as Foreign Relations chairman, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba "have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government."
Several top Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a possible 2016 presidential candidate, have criticized Obama's actions affecting travel to and trade with Cuba, but Corker has not joined them.
Corker, in his second term in the Senate, said most members of Congress need more time to learn about the embargo.
"In all fairness, Cuba has been off the front burner for a long, long time," he said. "You're going to see that change in the next several weeks."
Corker said he wants to explore the impact of giving U.S. telecommunication companies access to Cuba, and learn more about the 53 political prisoners Cuba pledged to release as part of the deal the two countries reached last month.
"What is the real behavioral change the Cuban government is going to put forth as part of this change in relations?" he asked.
Only Congress can repeal the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that includes the embargo, but the White House can open up new, limited opportunities for travel, business and commerce.
Also in December, Obama announced plans to restore more normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, including opening an embassy in Havana. Opponents in Congress say they'll block money for an embassy and will stall action on anyone the president nominates as ambassador to Cuba. Corker has not joined in those calls, either.
"Whether Congress supports an ambassador being placed in Cuba will really be part of the hearings we have in the next five or six weeks," he said. "There are still so many details all of us need to know before we pass judgment on whether this is a good policy or not and whether we should have an ambassador there now."
Corker was named chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday and will be confirmed by Senate Republicans and the full Senate in the next few days. The committee is a key panel with a strong say in national security, counter-terrorism, human rights, the use of military force, global trade, and foreign aid.
Corker's first hearing as chairman, to be held Tuesday, is titled "The National Interest: Articulating the Case for American Leadership in the World." The witness will be former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
"U.S. leadership is paramount," Corker said. "Obviously we don't need to be the world's policeman, but certainly we are an entity that challenges wrongs and continuously is the beacon on the hill, that city on the hill that people look to for leadership in every way. It doesn't mean getting the military involved in every conflict, but it does mean using our diplomatic and economic abilities to help shape the world."Sen. Corker calls Cuba embargo ineffective

Senator Durbin in favor of restoring relations with Cuba.

A day after returning from a congressional trip to Havana, Senator Dick Durbin says re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba could help Cubans push for a freer government and economy. 
Speaking on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, Durbin spoke of meeting a young dissident who compared the White House announcement about restoring relations with Cuba to removing a blanket covering up a caged bird. And he spoke of how Cuban officials told them that the country’s powdered milk supply comes the Pacific island nation of New Zealand, because of the US trade embargo against Cuba. 
“What we are trying to do is to not only open up the Cuba economy to powered milk, but to the power of ideas, the exchange of values, the belief that if the Cuba people see a better model for their future, that they will gravitate toward that model.” 
Talks aimed at restoring formal diplomatic ties between Cuba and the Europe are set to begin Wednesday in Havana. The visit there US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson will mark the first visit to Havana by a diplomat of her rank since the 1970s. 

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