WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement regarding Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Cuba and the raising of the American flag at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
“Today marks a significant milestone in the restoration of the U.S. – Cuban relationship that is long overdue. As the top U.S. diplomat, it is appropriate and meaningful that Secretary of State John Kerry is in Havana today for this momentous occasion. This is a day to mark new beginnings. With the Stars and Stripes proudly waving from atop the U.S. Embassy in Havana, the United States will be in a better position to advance our national interests, engage the Cuban people, and advocate an agenda defined by fundamental freedoms.
“With every passing day of increased engagement between our nations, the ties between our two people continue to develop. After decades of mistrust, now is the moment to seize an historic opportunity and work anew to develop a future defined by mutual respect and shared opportunity. This will require Cuba to focus on improving the state of human rights on the island. Arrests and detentions of dissidents must cease and genuine political pluralism is long overdue. Reform will not come to Cuba overnight, but positive changes are underway and together we are moving in a more hopeful direction.”
Senator Cardin traveled to Cuba in June with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dean Heller (R-NV).