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Influential US Congress members call for an end to Cuba travel ban

Wednesday, November 18th 2009 - 07:23 UTC
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Republican Senator and member of the powerful Foreign Relations committee, Richard Lugar Republican Senator and member of the powerful Foreign Relations committee, Richard Lugar

Two key United States lawmakers say that Washington should allow its citizens to travel to Cuba to help promote 'democratic reforms' in that country. Veteran Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Congressman Howard Berman insist that the Cuba travel ban has been obsolete and should be discarded as a foreign policy measure.

Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Berman, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that legislation to overturn the ban has been introduced in both chambers of the US Congress.

“US law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend or foe, with one exception, Cuba. It's time for us to scrap this anachronistic ban, imposed during one of the chilliest periods of the Cold War,” said Republican Senator Richard Lugar and Democratic Congressman Howard Berman, a joint statement.

According to Lugar and Berman, the travel ban, imposed in the aftermath of the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power, has hurt US efforts to promote 'democratic reforms' in the socialist-run island.

“Ending the restrictions would allow US citizens, who serve as ambassadors for the democratic values we hold dear, to visit the island and would help break Havana's choke hold on information,” they boasted.

The talk of 'democratic reforms' by the two US lawmakers raises suspicions among observers about the true intent of their seemingly positive initiative. They argue that 'democratic reforms' previously called by US lawmakers have meant mostly death and destruction in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, and regime change in the case of countries that do not submit to American regional and global interests.

Meanwhile it was announced that the US and Cuba will hold a second round of talks on migration issues in Havana at a yet undetermined date.

A State Department spokesman said “we are currently exploring dates that would work for both delegations to discuss the migration accords in Havana“.

”This would be the second high-level meeting on migration issues during the Obama administration” he added, referring to President Barack Obama's stated intention of improving relations with Cuba's communist regime.

The first round of migration talks held in July in New York City broke a six-year freeze in the negotiations, with both sides promising to strive toward a safe and orderly migration process between them.

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