McGovern, Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Conclude Cuba Trip to Promote U.S. Economic Development
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) concluded a bipartisan Congressional delegation trip to Cuba to continue the progress begun by President Obama to bring U.S.-Cuba relations into the 21st Century and explore new opportunities to promote U.S. economic development with Cuba. The trip will focus on economic opportunities for American companies in the agriculture and health sectors. Click here for photos from the Cuba trip.
Joining Congressman McGovern on this trip were U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Michael Bennet (D-CO) Tom Udall (D-NM). Also joining McGovern for two days was Congressman Seth Moulton, a fellow member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation.
While in Cuba, McGovern and Moulton attended meetings with leaders from the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), who jointly sponsored a delegation of representatives from Harvard Medical School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, UMass Memorial Hospital, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, Chicago Foods International, and Takeda Oncology to explore partnerships in the areas of medical and biotechnology research and exchanges, as well as meetings with Northeastern University on environmental and marine science research and university exchanges.
Congressmen Seth Moulton (MA-06) and Jim McGovern (MA-02) witness agreement signing by Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun (left) & University of Havana Rector Gustavo Cobreiro Suarez (right) to expand student cooperative studies, joint marine science & environment research.
“With this new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations, America has a real opportunity to lead. I was proud to join Republican and Democratic leaders in Cuba this week as we continue to explore new partnerships between our countries,” Congressman Jim McGovern said. “Massachusetts has always been a world-leader in delivering innovative, high-quality health care and this trip helped us lay the foundation for strong partnerships that will help scientists and business leaders from our countries work together for years to come. I will continue to work with our bipartisan coalition to strengthen cooperation on a broad range of issues and advance policies to support partnerships to create good jobs, help businesses grow, and advance life-saving treatment that will help people in the U.S. and around the world.”
"Massachusetts and Cuba are both worldwide leaders in biotechnology, and this visit is the first step in what both sides hope will be a future of collaboration,” said Congressman Moulton. "Knowing of the treatments pioneered in Cuba, many local scientists have wanted to work together with their counterparts but didn’t know how to begin the conversation. We will all develop new treatments and save more lives if we can share knowledge, another example of the benefits that come from reengagement between our two nations."
Congressman McGovern has been a leading voice in Congress in the push normalize U.S.-Cuba relations and find ways to connect the two nations’ citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information. In August 2015, Congressman McGovern joined Secretary Kerry in Havana for the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and in the 114th Congress, Congressman McGovern launched a bipartisan Cuba Working Group to build on the historic progress already achieved under President Obama’s new policy.
Members of the Cuba Working Group are supporters of one or more key pieces of legislation introduced in 2015, with Republicans as the lead sponsors. Taken together, these bills repeal economic and travel restrictions and would effectively eliminate the U.S. embargo on Cuba:
- The Cuba Trade Act of 2015 would allow U.S. businesses in the private sector to trade with Cuba without restrictions;
- The Cuba Digital and Telecommunications Advancement Act (Cuba DATA Act) would allow U.S. telecommunications and internet companies to provide services to the island;
- The Cuba Agriculture Exports Act would allow for U.S. investment in privately owned Cuban agriculture businesses;
- The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015 would allow all U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.
Senate committees have passed significant legislation to lift the travel ban on Cuba and widen trade with bipartisan support. The House of Representatives has been more reticent to move U.S. policy forward, making this Cuba working group even more important.
Increasing trade, travel and investment in Cuba will not only open new markets and create jobs in both countries, but promote human rights and better hemispheric relations.
Public opinion polls over the past year have shown an increasing support to end the Cuban trade embargo and change course on U.S.-Cuba relations. A recent Pew poll showed 73 percent of the American people, including 59 percent of Republicans favor ending the trade embargo. The bi-partisan Congressional Working Group will now take leadership to match the growing public support for a new U.S. policy towards Cuba.