The push to end the Cuban embargo is rolling right along. The latest comes from the Congressional Black Caucus members visiting Cuba: make no mistake, the embargo is a law, and as such must be revoked by Congress, not the President.
Miami Herald headline: Castros tell lawmakers they want talks with U.S.
Returning from meetings with both Fidel and Raúl Castro, members of the Congressional Black Caucus said Cuba would welcome talks with the United States.
Key members of the Congressional Black Caucus are calling for an end to U.S. prohibition on travel to Cuba, just hours after a meeting with former Cuban president Fidel Castro in Havana.
“The fifty-year embargo just hasn’t worked,” CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Ca.) told reporters this evening at a Capitol press conference after returning from a congressional delegation visit to Cuba. “The bottom line is that we believe its time to open dialogue with Cuba.”
Lee and others heaped praise on Castro, calling him warm and receptive during their discussion. But the lawmakers disputed Castro’s later statement that members of the congressional delegation said American society is still racist.
“It was quite a moment to behold,” Lee said, recalling her moments with Castro.
“It was almost like listening to an old friend,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Il.), adding that he found Castro’s home to be modest and Castro’s wife to be particularly hospitable.
“In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor,” Rush said.
Castro, in turn (link in Spanish), was lavish in his florid praise of the CBC members who visited him (my translation):
Barbara is proud of heading the Black Caucus, of actively participating in her country with new energy and optimism, of her male son who was far from being born when the revolution triumphed in Cuba, and of her five grandchildren. She had been the lone vote against Bush’s genocidal war in Iraq. That was irrefutable proof of her political courage. She deserves every honor.
Barbara, as Fidel refers to Congresswoman Lee, was not alone: U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver turned a blind eye to the absence of any members of the Cuban pro-democracy movement and stated,
“We’ve been led to believe that the Cuban people are not free, and they are repressed by a vicious dictator, and I saw nothing to match what we’ve been told.”
One CBC member stands apart from the rest: Congressman Kendrick Meek (Dem, FL 17th Dist.), Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, stayed in Florida, where he stated,
Rep. Kendrick Meek, who was traveling the Panhandle Tuesday in his U.S. Senate bid, offered this wise analysis of his Black Caucus colleagues’ ”fact-finding” mission:…
”Political prisoners jailed in Cuba are held for peacefully expressing their rights and freedoms, like Dr. Oscar Biscet and Antúnez,” he said. “The Cuban spies held in the U.S. federal prisons were a threat to our national security. That’s the difference between night and day.”
I wish he had said that in Cuba, but I’m grateful that he did.
Others blogging on the subject
The Cuban situation about to get depressingly worse?
Black Caucus Gives Castro Attention, Ammunition
Since When Does Congress Make Foreign Policy?
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) Has No Problems With Repressive, Murderous Dictatorships
Why are Congressional Black Caucus members in such a rush to befriend a repressive regime that hates freedom, unless they too have no problem with repressing freedom?
Congressional Black Caucus Urged to Visit Afro-Cuban Political Prisoners and Democracy Activist
‘My Darling Comrade Leader’: Barbara Lee & friends coddling dictators
Fidel Castro to Congressional Black Caucus members: ‘How can we help President Obama?’
Congressional Black Caucus hearts Castros
CBC spits on the graves of murdered Castro opponents
U.S. lawmakers rate high in Havana
I do not understand how a congresswoman of any color can say, “The fifty-year embargo just hasn’t worked.”
Dem Bobby Rush: Meeting Castro Was Like Talking With Old Family Members (Audio)
Language alert: NSFW Why Don’t They Stay There?
Congressional Black Caucus funds ACORN
Castro, Wagner, &c.
Rep Barbara Lee On Why Congressional Black Caucus Visited Cuba
Love is in the air
However, the American group disputed one statement made by Castro after the meeting: “Castro said that the delegation had expressed to him that a segment of American society ‘continues to be racist’…’That did not happen,’ Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), told reporters.” Sometimes it’s hard to know whom to believe.
UPDATE, Thursday 9 April
Commentary: A Plate Of Black Beans And Rice Makes More Sense Than The Congressional Black Caucus
Special thanks to Maria and the Baron, and Larwyn