White House: Normalization woudn’t have happened without pontiff
NEW YORK – The dramatic announcement of the re-establishment of U.S. relations with communist Cuba came after Pope Francis and President Obama discussed Cuba at their most recent meeting, which was followed by a Vatican-hosted meeting between U.S. and Cuban officials, a State Department spokesman told reporters Wednesday.
The White House believes the normalizing of diplomatic relations with the island nation would not have happened without the involvement of Pope Francis, the first Catholic pontiff from Latin America.
Administration officials explained to reporters that while congressional leaders had been consulted, the Obama administration does not anticipate Congress will reverse the existing laws that have established the embargo in an attempt to oust the communist government of Fidel Castro.
Instead, the Obama administration has decided to implement policy changes in U.S. relations with Cuba through executive action, hoping Congress will see the wisdom of a “new approach.”
The White House said a U.S. Embassy will open in Havana as soon as possible.
The administration believes the “policy of past has not worked,” and re-establishing diplomatic relations is the best way “to bring democracy to Cuba.”
U.S. officials are to meet with Cuban dissidents in the U.S. to reassure them of Washington’s commitment to human rights in Cuba.
The U.S. will get back an intelligence agent imprisoned in Cuba for 20 years while sending back three Cuban intelligence agents in U.S. prisons.
Secretary of State John Kerry will take Cuba off the “terror supporting nations” list, and U.S. financial institutions will open links to their Cuban counterparts.
More to come …