Crown Heights

Clarke says U.S.-Cuba thaw offers hope for future

July 6, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke says the re-establishment of diplomatic relations will give Americans and Cubans a chance to dispel myths they have about each other. Photo courtesy Clarke’s office
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President Obama’s decision to re-establish diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba is being closely watched in Brooklyn’s Caribbean-American community. U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, a Caribbean-American, praised the move as an important and necessary step toward making life better for everyone in North America.

“The restoration of diplomatic relations with the nation of Cuba offers us hope of a future defined not by our past mistakes, but by our aspirations and our commitment to work with each other on behalf of all the people of North America,” Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) said in a statement.

On July 1, Obama announced in a Rose Garden speech that the U.S. and Cuba were re-establishing diplomatic relations and that the two countries would soon open embassies in each other’s capitals after more than 50 years.

“You don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” CNN quoted Obama as saying. “If something isn’t working, we can and will change.”

The U.S. and Cuba broke ties in 1961.

The re-established ties will allow the U.S. to move forward on issues such as reuniting families torn apart when the two countries broke off official contact, according to Clarke, who said it could also open the door to solving other longstanding issues between Washington D.C. and Havana.

“The re-opening of embassies in Washington D.C. and Havana demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to building that future and to collaborating with Cuba on critical issues, such as family reunification, human rights, the interdiction of narcotics and investment in Cuba,” said Clarke, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

The new ties will also give Americans and Cubans a chance to get to know each other without the weight of history bearing down on them, Clarke said.

“I believe that, as full diplomatic relations are restored, both Cubans and Americans will have the opportunity to the dispel myths that developed in the more than 50 years in which our nations were divided by a policy that separated families, restricted economic development, and — ultimately — undermined our efforts to support democracy,” she stated.

“Our relationship, based on shared interests and mutual respect, will allow the United States and Cuba to transcend those problems in the 21st Century,” Clarke added.

But Obama will need congressional approval to ease bans on certain types of travel and trade to Cuba, CNN reported.

Obama called on Congress to lift an embargo that prevents Americans from doing business in Cuba.

“Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward. I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same,” CNN quoted Obama saying.

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