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Republicans Seek Ways to Block Relations with Cuba

Republican Senator Marco Rubio speaks with Senator John McCain. | Photo: Reuters Republican Senator Marco Rubio speaks with Senator John McCain. | Photo: Reuters
WASHINGTON DC December 19, 2014 - U.S. Republicans in Congress Thursday began seeeking a strategy to block President Barack Obama's plan to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba.

"We're going to look at all our options," said Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio, who is Cuban-American, has led the charge against the Obama's plan.

Some ideas of the Republicans include denying funds to reopen a Havana embassy and blocking the confirmation of a U.S. ambassador, though U.S. Constitution gives the president – not the legislature – authority over diplomatic relations.

Many legal experts say that despite the Republicans takeover of both the House of Representatives and Senate in January, President Obama has broad executive powers to ease restrictions on commerce, transportation and banking towards the island.

"The steps that the president announced are steps that are well within his executive authority as president of the United States," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest quoted by Reuters news agency.

Earnest also said he was "not particularly" worried about Republican opposition, and that the White House would be willing to consider a possible precedent-shattering visit by Cuban President Raul Castro.

Obama would be the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Former President Fidel Castro was the last Cuban leader to visit the United States. He spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations in 1959 and in later years addressed the United Nations.

Negotiations between Cuba and the United States to renew diplomatic relation began 18 months ago, with the encouragement of Pope Francis. The secret talks were hosted in Canada, and a final meeting took place in the Vatican.

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to restart relations between both countries, which has been praised by leaders around the world.

Last modified onFriday, 19 December 2014 08:28
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