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Obama announces major changes in U.S. policy on Cuba

President Barack Obama declared the end of America's "outdated approach" to Cuba Wednesday, as he announced a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island.

  • Statements from the NY Congressional delegation on Obama's Cuba announcement:

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): "While I have concerns about a prisoner convicted in a murder case being returned to Cuba, it is great news that after 5 long years Alan Gross is finally coming home. The embargo has not worked for the Cuban people, and the best antidote to the Castro regime is opening Cuba to America."

    Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    The best way to bring down the oppressive Castro dictatorship is to open up Cuba, economically and otherwise. The more freedom the Cuban people taste, the more likely that this regime is to fall.  I support President Obama’s decision and I’m delighted that Alan Gross is now free.

    Rep. Peter King (R-NY)
    "I am extremely gratified by the release of Alan Gross but am opposed to the normalization of relations with Cuba." "Cuba must improve human rights conditions and extradite cop killers and murderers to the United States."

    ould you
    vote to rescind Congress' law establishing the US embargo of Cuba? No

    Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY): "The policy was a relic of another time, and we now have an opportunity to create stronger foundations of democracy and human rights in Cuba. I'm particularly pleased that Alan Gross was freed as part of this negotiation."

    ould you
    vote to rescind Congress' law establishing the US embargo of Cuba? Yes

    Rep-elect Kathleen Rice (D-NY):
    "I'm very relieved that Mr. Gross has finally been granted the freedom to return home and reunite with his family, and I'm pleased with President Obama's decision to begin working towards normal relations with Cuba. I think diplomatic engagement is a more effective, goal-oriented course of action that can lead to a more productive relationship between our nations, while also allowing the U.S. to exert greater influence over the Cuban government on issues of human rights and democratic freedoms."

    ould you
    vote to rescind Congress' law establishing the US embargo of Cuba? "It's too soon to say. I think lifting the embargo is an important goal of this diplomatic strategy, but it will depend on what kind of changes we see from the Cuban government and whether they're willing to respect the rights and freedom of the Cuban people."

    Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY): "
    Congressman Bishop agrees with the President.  He has voted several times in the past to end the embargo with Cuba."

    Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY):
    "Today will mark an important day in history, as our nation and Cuba attempt to normalize relations after a troubling past. During the Cold War, the trade embargo was a necessary tactic to counter an unpredictable Communist regime.  However, the Cold War is long past and the embargo has taken an incalculable toll on the Cuban people. It is about time that we reconcile our differences with Cuba and move forward. Hopefully, this rapprochement will improve living conditions for the Cuban people and eventually pave the path for democratic reform. Members of the next Congress will serve a major role, as this process moves forward and I salute the President for taking the first step."
  • President Barack Obama announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba Wednesday. A few quick points:

    - "Isolation has not worked," Obama said. "It's time for a new approach."

    - Obama said economic and travel restrictions with Cuba will be eased, and said he looks forward to engaging with Congress about lifting the embargo. He'll need lawmakers' approval to end the embargo.

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