Kaine says progress made with Cuba 'will go forward, never backwards'

Published October 23, 2016


The Democratic candidate for vice president, Sen. Tim Kaine, said Saturday in an interview with EFE that relations with Cuba, resumed under the Barack Obama government, may progress faster or slower but "never go back" to what they were.

"The process will go forward, never backwards, but we need to work with Cuba on matters of importance, especially on human rights issues," said the Spanish-speaking senator from Virginia, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"So we may have a fast or slow process, but we're not going back," Kaine said in a telephone interview with EFE when asked about possible Republican obstacles to lifting the embargo on the island.

The senator, who has special ties with Latin America and the Hispanic community, spoke of the benefits that the new diplomacy with Havana means for the United States.

Our process with Cuba is helping the United States in its relations with every country in the Americas - normalizing relations with Cuba is opening doors with other countries in the Americas, and Hillary (Clinton) and I want to work with all the nations of the continent," the vice-presidential hopeful said.

"From the Yukon to Patagonia" we want to "work in a different, special way with the nations of the Americas," the senator said in his fluent Spanish.

Obama, who announced the renewal of relations with Cuba in December 2014, recently issued an executive order to make the process of normalizing relations with Cuba "irreversible."

However, the president continues to come up against major stumbling blocks in Congress with its Republican majority, where a strong group of lawmakers appears totally opposed to lifting the embargo on the island.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is in that camp as well. He says that if he wins the election he will reverse the U.S. opening toward Cuba promoted by Obama, unless religious and political freedoms are established on the island.

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