WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on U.S.-Cuba relations.
“President Obama’s historic trip to Havana and his engagement with the Cuban people provide a clear example of how the dynamism of American society can make a positive contribution to the future of Cuba. The announced arrival of U.S. businesses to the island not only advances the interests of the American people, but also offers Cuba’s citizens - including Cuban entrepreneurs - with new opportunities for employment, professional training, and to improve their livelihood.”
“With the U.S. updating its policies, the Cuban government must take steps to remove longstanding barriers to growth and development in its country, and permit its people to enjoy the same rights as citizens around the globe. As President Obama underscored in his speech today, it is our hope that the citizens of Cuba will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of an open and pluralistic society and have the right to democratically elect their leaders.
"I urge President Castro to take a step toward this long overdue change by ending the arbitrary arrests of dissidents, permitting the emergence of a free press, and providing greater respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.”