Cong. Bobby Rush (D-1st) was among the congressional contingent who accompanied President Obama on his historic trip to Cuba in March.
The three-day trip was possible after the two countries began the process in 2014 of normalizing the relationship that was severed following the 1959 communist revolution led by Fidel Castro.
Obama is the first sitting president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge
“Since my most recent official visit to Cuba in April 2009, I have seen the vibrancy of the Cuban people and, by lifting this embargo, the United States will be in a better position to ensure their human rights are protected,” said Rush in a statement.
For that 2009 trip, Rush joined six other members of the Congressional Black Caucus on a mission to seek expanded trade opportunities for American businesses. Rush was a cosponsor of H. R. 874, “The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2009,” that would end the ban on travel by Americans to Cuba.
Rush was one of three U.S. officials to meet with former Cuban President Fidel Castro and current President Raúl Castro.
About two dozen congressmen, including five Republicans, accompanied Obama on the trip in March. Others including retired New York Yankee baseball player Derek Jeter also made the trip, in which Obama met with Raul Castro. The two leaders and their families also watched a baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I applaud President Obama for his decision to begin the process of restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba. This process has been a long time coming and I look forward to its successful completion,” said Rush.
The congressman said he has introduced legislation several times to normalize relations with Cuba.
“I look forward to working with the president and my colleagues to ensure that whatever legislative changes are necessary can be accomplished,” said Rush.
“I would also like to note the significance of the State Department review of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. It has long been my belief that this designation should be removed and I applaud the president helping bring this to fruition,” he continued.
“Ensuring the maintenance of human rights in Cuba, as in the rest of the world, is of the utmost importance to me and, as I said before, the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba will not only simplify the maintenance of these standards on a bilateral basis but will allow us to work with our international partners to expand them.
“Once again, I congratulate President Obama and the American and Cuban peoples on the blossoming of a new, stronger, relationship.”