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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — President Barack Obama spelled out what he wants to happen in Cuba during his last State of The Union address.
“Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo,” said the commander in chief Tuesday evening.
The president has already used executive authority twice to ease the embargo as part of his opening to the island nation. He would need the help of Congress to lift the embargo.
His request comes as renewed relations between both nations has prompted an influx of travelers and business to the island nation.
Cuban leaders have called for the embargo to be lifted, saying it is a make or break when it comes to normalizing relations with the U.S.
“The Cuban president reiterated for Cuba and the United States to be able to have normalized relations, the blockade or embargo that has caused damages and hardships to the Cuban people and affects the interests of American citizens must be lifted and the territory occupied by the US naval base in Guantanamo should be returned to Cuba,” said Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla who gave a summary on the meeting between President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro back in September.
Guantanamo – a topic also raised by President Obama during his State of the Union address and something he has been pushing for since he took office in 2009.
“I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,” said the president.
Since the December 2014 announcement of renewed relations, the U.S. has eased travel restriction and permitted trade with Cuba’s small private sector. The moves have also caused a massive influx of Cuban immigrants in to the U.S. Many Cuban migrants fear renewed relations could bring an end to the Wet Foot Dry Foot Policy which allows Cubans to apply for residency if they reach the U.S. by land.
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