Town Council want end to trade embargo against Cuba

Sep. 23—WILLIMANTIC — Town Council members approved a resolution urging President Joseph Biden and Congress to end the 60 year- old trade embargo against Cuba.

The embargo has been in place since Feb. 3, 1962.

The majority of the council members voted in favor of the resolution during their Tuesday meeting. On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama and former Cuba President Raul Castro agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations. Obama took executive action to ease regulations.

As the resolution mentions, the United Nations also voted nearly unanimously in June 2021 to end the embargo, the 20th year in-a-row in which such a vote was made.

However, despite those efforts, the embargo remains.

Windham Town Council President Dawn Niles, who supported the resolution, said Obama " started pushing us toward the right path."

" It stopped under Trump," she said. " It has not moved forward under Biden."

Niles said the resolution is sending the message that the negotiations should continue.

The resolution states that a full restoration of trade and travel would be " of great benefit to both countries, particularly in the areas of economic opportunities, education, health care, tourism, the arts, music and sports." It also indicates that ending the embargo would allow Windham and the region to " develop academic intellectual exchange programs and participate in collaborative educational efforts with Cuba, benefiting our school districts and institutes of higher education and strengthening cultural and sports programs."

Council member Steven Edelman said he attended the Sept. 10 event at the Willimantic Public Library involving members of the Cuba delegation.

That visit was designed to discuss the relationship between Cuba and the United States and ways to improve it. Edelman voted against the resolution, stating that he is concerned that Cuba has seized " billions of dollars" of American assets that the U.S. has not been compensated for.

" The embargo remains leverage in these negotiations," he said.

Calling himself a capitalist, Windham Mayor Thomas DeVivo said the embargo keeps the United States' ideas out of Cuba.

He said having access to Americans' ideas and the United States democracy may inspire a regime change in Cuba.

" We're going to open them up to all the great things we have in this country," DeVivo said, expressing support for the embargo being lifted.

Several people spoke about the resolution during public comment, most of whom were in favor of ending the embargo.

"There are no reasons to continue it," resident Jean de Smet said.

Resident Curtis Ehler,