New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats Respond to President Obama’s Announcement on Cuba Policy Changes and the Release of Alan Gross

New Mexico’s Congressional Democrats responded positively today to President Obama’s announcement on changes to the nation’s Cuba policy and to the release of Alan Gross.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall released a statement today on the president’s announcement that he has taken steps to normalize relations with the country of Cuba and has secured the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban jail since 2009. In November, Udall traveled to Cuba with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) where they met with Cuban officials as well as religious and business leaders to discuss the impacts of the embargo and travel restrictions on American and Cuban families. Udall also visited Alan Gross in prison and expressed optimism that he would be released soon. Below is Udall’s statement:

“I am happy for Alan Gross and his family today, and we welcome him home after 5 years of incarceration in Cuba. I applaud the president in his efforts to return him to his family and for taking steps to normalize relations with Cuba. Now is the time to end the failed embargo against Cuba and to take steps to normalize relations. This is a sea change as our nation is finally embarking on a 21st century approach with Cuba, one that will open opportunities for New Mexicans and other American interests in Cuba. American citizens are the best diplomats of our values and I hope their future interactions shine through with the Cuban people. It is time to act, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Obama administration, to build upon this announcement and move forward to lift the embargo on Cuba, which has only served to isolate the Cuban people and limit American opportunity.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) made the following statement today regarding President Obama’s announcement of changes he’s made to the economic and diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba, and the release of American prisoner Alan Gross, who had been held in a Cuban jail since 2009:

“Today marks a welcome change of course in our nation’s relationship with Cuba. I support the Administration’s decision to abandon an outdated Cold War policy of isolation that failed to advance America’s goal of an open and free society for the Cuban people. This new course is consistent with our national security interests, and will help make it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba and increase economic opportunities. But more importantly, I hope this change in course will lead to more progress in reversing the Cuban government’s history of suppressing the human rights and other civil freedoms of its citizens.

“The release of U.S. citizen Alan Gross is wonderful news. I’m pleased he is home safe and reunited with his family after five years of imprisonment.”

Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01) released the following statement in response to President Obama’s announcement about the relationship between the United States and Cuba.

“I am optimistic about the shift toward restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba and moving away from a policy that has failed on so many levels. During my visit to Cuba, I was struck by how the embargo, coupled with a dysfunctional economy, has hurt so many average Cubans. A more robust relationship will ultimately help people in both countries, and open the door to democracy in Cuba.

“However, I am concerned about the release of Cubans, who were convicted in American courts, as a condition or precursor to improving relations between with the U.S. and Cuba. I worry about the message that may send to other state actors around the world that are looking for leverage against the U.S.”