WASHINGTON – Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) on Wednesday released the following statement after U.S. aid worker Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison and President Obama announced the normalization of relations with Cuba:

Rep. Mark Takano
Rep. Mark Takano

“I’m pleased to see that U.S. aid worker Alan Gross is heading home after spending more than five years in a Cuban prison. Alan’s imprisonment in Cuba violated the basic tenets of justice and I celebrate his release.

“I’m also pleased that the administration has taken steps to normalize relations with Cuba. For more than 50 years, we have engaged in a foreign relations policy that was ineffective and misguided. In order to promote democracy in Cuba and alleviate the suffering of its citizens, the United States should be engaging the Cuban people, creating a presence on the island through travel and an embassy, and promoting economic development.

“These types of policies have worked for decades in many other nations and this course correction, which is a long time coming, will undoubtedly yield the same results and benefit our nation.”

Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) commented: “I applaud today’s announcement by President Obama of the steps he is taking to begin the process of normalizing relations with ‪#‎Cuba‬. For over 50 years, our foreign policy with Cuba has done nothing but hurt the people of Cuba, separate families, and cost us a potential ally and trading partner.

“Last month, I joined a number of my colleagues in cosigning a letter to the president asking him to take such steps. I have also traveled to Cuba to meet with government officials and discuss this issue. I know that our two nations have much to gain, and little to lose, by normalizing relations.

“I am particularly pleased that the president, and Secretary of State (John) Kerry, plan to re-establish an embassy in Havana, and expand travel between our two nations. The focus on improving the telecommunications and technology of Cuba will be a benefit to Cuba’s people and businesses, along with American companies like those in my district in Silicon Valley.

“The president and Secretary Kerry are right in including strong support for improved human rights and democratization in Cuba in this policy. The Cuban people deserve to have a full say in their government, and be free of political persecution. I will work with the administration, and my colleagues in Congress, to encourage these democratic reforms.

“Today is a historic day in U.S.-Cuba relations, and a great day for the Americas. I’m glad we are working to become allies and partners with a nation that lies only 90 miles away and has such ties to our country. Viva Cuba and Viva America!”

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