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Republican-Led US Congress Creates Obstacle for Lifting Cuban Embargo

© Flickr / Day DonaldsonUS-Cuba relations opens a new chapter
US-Cuba relations opens a new chapter - Sputnik International
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The director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies told Sputnik that lifting the US embargo on Cuba might be hampered by the Republican-dominated Congress.

MOSCOW (Sputnik), Anastasia Levchenko — Lifting the US trade embargo on Cuba will be problematic with a Republican-dominated Congress, and will not immediately follow the official renewal of relations between the two countries, the director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies told Sputnik on Wednesday.

On Monday, Washington and Havana officially reestablished full diplomatic relations and reopened embassies after more than half a century of hostilities.

"Lifting the embargo will be much more difficult. The US Congress led by the Republicans is opposed to providing [Cuban leader] General Raul Castro with unilateral concessions. Unless Cuba is ready to open up its political and economic system the Helms-Burton law will remain in effect," Jaime Suchlicki said.

The 1996 Helms-Burton Act specifies the conditions under which the embargo can be ended, including free elections in Cuba, the legalization of multiple political parties, the release of all political prisoners, and respect for human rights.

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There remain a number of sensitive issues for the United States and Cuba to resolve for relations to be fully restored. Suchlicki listed the lack of freedom in Cuba, the compensation for US-Cuban American properties confiscated by the Castro brothers and the closure of the Guantanamo Naval Base among them.

The United States closed its embassy in Havana in 1961, severing diplomatic ties with the island nation after a Socialist government came to power and allied itself with the Soviet Union. Washington has kept an unofficial Interests Section presence in the country.

In December 2014, US President Barack Obama announced his administration would pursue a path toward normalizing relations with Cuba.

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