Obama’s Cuba opening hits early obstacles, faces struggle with Congress

by
January 4, 2015

WASHINGTON | Only two-and-a-half weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama announced a historic prisoner exchange and re-establishment of long-broken ties with Cuba, his new policy is encountering obstacles that threaten to flare up when Congress returns next week.

Questions surrounding Havana’s human rights record and the promised release of Cuban detainees have the potential to inflame anti-Havana passions on Capitol Hill, where the House and Senate are expected to hold hearings soon after they resume on Tuesday.

Whether the obstacles amount in the long run to anything more than speed bumps on the way to wider detente remains to be seen. But at a minimum, they illustrate how benefits from Obama’s ditching of a half-decade of U.S. isolation of Cuba won’t come quickly or without rancorous debate.

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