With Secretary Kerry, Congressman Cohen Helps Re-open US Embassy in Cuba

August 14, 2015
Press Release

[HAVANA, CUBA] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) joined U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a bipartisan delegation of U.S. Senators and Representatives today at the official re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Today’s re-opening is a significant step as the United States works to lift the trade embargo that has been in effect since 1960 and normalize diplomatic relations with the neighboring nation that sits just 90 miles from American soil, actions Congressman Cohen has encouraged for years. Late last year, President Obama announced his intention to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“The re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and our Embassy in Havana re-opening will help promote human rights and freedom in a country where we have had little influence for too long,” said Congressman Cohen. “I was proud to be there—with my Minnie Minoso hat, in honor of the late ‘Cuban Comet’—with Secretary Kerry when the American flag was raised once again over our Embassy in Havana and I appreciate President Obama’s bold steps forward to normalize relations with Cuba.

“Our relationship with Cuba has long been a thorn in the side of our relations with other Caribbean nations. The normalization of relations with Cuba will help us become closer to all our Caribbean neighbors and help eventually open new trade avenues for Memphis entrepreneurs and businesses, including AutoZone for Cuba’s aging American cars, FedEx, medical device companies and health-industry professionals. It will also improve Americans’ freedom to travel—and it is the right thing to do.”

Along with Congressman Cohen and Secretary Kerry, the United States delegation to Cuba included several federal officials, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, Jeff Flake, Amy Klobuchar, and Pat Leahy as well as U.S. Representatives Karen Bass, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Jim McGovern. Today’s visit included the re-opening of the United States Embassy in Havana, a flag-raising ceremony at the residence of Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, and a meeting with Cuban entreprenuers.

Congressman Cohen is a cosponsor of the Free Trade with Cuba Act, which would lift the long-standing embargo on trade with Cuba to give American companies their fair share of the nation’s $60 billion GPD. The longer American businesses are locked out of Cuba, the longer they will lose a foothold for trade and investment in this expanding market to foreign competitors who are increasing their participation in Cuba.