Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives, will meet Cardinal Archbishop Jaime Ortega y Alamino of Havana on Feb. 20. She will also meet with other diplomats and community leaders during her visit. On Feb 19 she met Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez as part of the process to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba that was initiated by President Barack Obama.
Pelosi is scheduled for a press conference where she is expected to address various trade issues.
Bilateral talks over the restoration of full diplomatic relations occurred on January 21-22 in Havana. Among the issues discussed is the re-opening of their respective embassies. Currently, the US is represented by an Interests Section housed in the former US embassy compound in the Cuban capital.
According to Palabra Nueva - a magazine published by the Havana archdiocese - “The process of normalising relations will take time, it will be difficult some times, easier other times, but the first step has been taken, the most important, because it dissolved the paralysis...".
“During the meeting, we exchanged views about the actions taken by President Obama and President Raúl Castro,” Pelosi said in a Feb. 19 statement. “We agreed to continue our interparliamentary dialogue on areas of agreement and disagreement.” Pelosi said that there exists bipartisan support in Congress for restored relations with the Communist country, but said that the support is not "universal" in the Republican-controlled body.
Other members of Congress on the junket are Democrats Eliot Engel (New York), Jim McGovern (Massachusetts), Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut), Collin Peterson (Minnesota), Anna Eshoo (California), Nydia Velázquez (New York), Steve Israel (New York) and David Cicilline (Rhode Island).
While on her official visit to Havana, Pelosi is staying at the luxurious Hotel Saratoga, which was expropriated during the Cuban revolution 50 years ago. In 2011, after making an investment of $75 million, two senior executives of Coral Capital investors were arbitrarily imprisoned by the Castro regime when their minority stake in the hotel was seized by the government. Amado Fahkre and Stephen Purvis were imprisoned in the infamous Villa Marista facility where they witnessed suicides and insanity induced among other prisoners during their two years there.
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