Democratic hopeful Clinton to urge Congress to lift Cuba embargo

  • AFP, Miami
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2015 06:28 IST

Hillary Clinton will on Friday urge US lawmakers to lift the trade embargo against Cuba, arguing that Republican opposition to normalising ties reflects the past's "failed policies," her campaign said.

Clinton, the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, will make her plea during a speech in Miami.

"She will highlight that Republican arguments against increased engagement are part of failed policies of the past and contend that we must look to the future in order to advance a core set of values and interests to engage with Cubans and address human rights abuses," her team said.

President Barack Obama made his own appeal to Congress on July 1 to end the crippling embargo, but the Republican-led Senate and House of Representatives have been unmoved.

Obama gave the green light in 2013 for secret negotiations between Washington and Havana, and last December he and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro simultaneously announced plans to normalise relations after more than half a century of strain.

On January 20, the countries reopened embassies in their respective capitals.

Clinton has expressed support for the detente and for ending the embargo before, including in her memoir "Hard Choices," released last year.

In June 2014, shortly after the book's publication, the former secretary of state told the Council on Foreign Relations that "the embargo is Castro's best friend," because the leader could use the US blockade as an excuse for all Cuban economic woes.

Her position puts her in contrast with her many Republican presidential rivals, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, US senators whose parents fled Cuba.

They have been outspoken in criticizing the administration's improved ties with Havana, and have demanded that the embargo remain in place.

While diplomatic ties are on the mend, dismantling the trade blockade is expected to be far more difficult, with a US president requiring an act of Congress to lift the embargo.

Many Republicans and some Democrats have said they would oppose such a move.

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