WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky will travel to Cuba on Sunday with President Obama. Obama will be only the second sitting U.S. President to visit Cuba after Calvin Coolidge’s visit in 1928.
“By establishing new trade partnerships in Cuba, we have a real opportunity to grow our agricultural economy and create more good-paying manufacturing jobs in Illinois,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “Cuba represents a new market for Illinois exports and President Obama's decision to embark on this historic diplomatic mission represents a major step forward for our region and our State. I'm honored to be a part of this delegation and I look forward to working with our equipment manufacturers, agricultural producers and exporters to grow our economy.”
“I’m excited to join President Obama in Cuba-the changes he has made to America’s Cuba policy mark a new and long overdue diplomatic chapter in our hemisphere,” said Durbin. “Reestablishing travel and trade relations means real benefits for people in Illinois and across the country, from farmers to small businesses to working families. But this policy change is about more than just travel and trade—it’s about opening Cuba to new ideas, new values, and improved human rights that our 50 year old policy of exclusion could not achieve.”
“President Obama overturned an ineffective and outdated policy when he re-established diplomatic ties with Cuba,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “I am sure that this new age in our relationship with our close neighbor will prove beneficial both to American manufacturers, farmers, and tourists, as well as the Cuban people. I am honored to join the President on this historic visit. I look forward to working to increase economic, scientific, and cultural cooperation between the United States and Cuba, and maybe scouting some new talent for the Cubs.”
Approximately 20 Members of Congress will travel with President Obama to Havana. The delegation will meet with Cuban officials and civil society, attend a speech by President Obama, a State Dinner, and a baseball game.
In January, Durbin participated in the first congressional delegation visit to Cuba since the United States announced its change of policy. Durbin worked for years to secure the release of Alan Gross – including visited him in jail in Cuba in 2012 — and was present to welcome him home in December of 2014. Durbin is an original co-sponsor of legislation to lift bans on U.S. travel, and agricultural and telecommunications exports to Cuba.
In October, Bustos traveled to Cuba as part of a bipartisan agricultural trade mission to learn more about the barriers to increasing trade between Illinois and the island nation.