Barbara Lee, Member of Congress (USA), member of the Democratic Party, sent a circular to her supporters…
“Yesterday we celebrated a long-awaited, long-overdue moral and diplomatic victory in our relationship with Cuba. I have met with Alan Gross many times during trips to Cuba, and I am overjoyed that he is reunited with his family.
“The release of Mr. Gross and the impending normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations are momentous turning points for both nations, brought about by tremendous leadership on the part of President Obama and all who were involved in the negotiations. We progressives know that positive change comes through dialogue and cooperation, values we will continue to embrace as these reforms are enacted.
“Going forward, I will continue to press my colleagues to lift the 54-year-old trade and economic embargo – a move that can only be accomplished by Congressional action. And I look forward to working with the President on other fundamental policy changes, including removing travel restrictions for all Americans.
“Progressives will need to raise a united voice in support of finally ending the embargo. I hope you will join me.”
Ms Lee is notable as the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the authorization of use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks. This made her a heroine among many in the anti-war movement. Lee has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and supports legislation creating a Department of Peace.
Further, on this Cuba issue, there are celebrations around the country – other than by the older generation exiled Cubans, who show an inertia regarding reconciling with their dramatic past. For one there is a Celebration Rally for the Cuban Five! where a group of supporters sent its missive to its list:
“Sisters and brothers, friends of the Cuban Five:
“Join us tonight, Thursday [18 December], for a celebration rally at 5:30 pm, 24th and Mission St., San Francisco, to cheer for the Cuban Five heroes, who finally are ALL home in Cuba!
“The remaining three Cuban Five heroes, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero arrived in Cuba! Their 16 years of cruel, unjust imprisonment is over!
“They were freed and flew yesterday to their homeland, to the embrace of their families and the Cuban people who have fought so hard for their brothers to return home. In a humanitarian exchange, Alan Gross, a U.S. citizen who was convicted in Cuba for violating the sovereignty and independence of Cuba, was also freed and flew home yesterday to his family in Washington DC.
“President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro both spoke to their respective public, to announce new measures regarding an easing of certain commerce restrictions and the U.S. travel ban. However the U.S. blockade remains in place.”