Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns Senators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial MORE (D-Ill.) called on the United States to lift its travel and trade embargo against Cuba.

“Opening the door with Cuba for trade, travel, and the exchange of ideas will create a force for positive change in Cuba that more than 50 years of our current policy of exclusion could not achieve,” Durbin said Wednesday.


The senator’s remarks came after Cuba released U.S. prisoner Alan Gross, a government worker jailed for five years in Cuba by the Castro regime.

“I’m overjoyed to welcome Alan Gross home after five long years in a Cuban prison,” Durbin said. “Alan’s supposed crime was that he provided Cuba’s small Jewish community with computer equipment to help them access the Internet. I have pressed the Cuban government for years to release him.”

President Obama is expected to hold a press conference at noon and, according to Durbin, the president could announce the “normalization” of trade and travel with Cuba.

Durbin argued that the more than 50-year trade embargo against Cuba hasn’t crippled Fidel Castro’s communist regime as designed and has only hurt the Cuban people. But other senators, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), say that lifting the trade ban would send a message that the United States condones communism.