By Neysi Hernández
HAVANA (AA) – A Cuba-U.S. bilateral commission are meeting here Monday to review the on-going of normalizing relations between the two countries.
The meeting is the third such for the group that has been able to make progress on a number of issues.
The results of the development of ties between the two neighboring nations in the last 17 months can be seen in the political and consular fields, particularly in the restoration of relations at the diplomatic level and the opening of the U.S. embassy here last August.
Of particular importance have been the three meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro – culminating with the American leader’s visit to Havana in March.
Economically, however, there has been no significant progress due to unilateral U.S. sanctions.
Despite broad powers of U.S. president to amend or abolish laws that support an economic blockade against the island, only Congress can completely lift the embargo.
Cuban authorities have said that in order to fully normalize relations between the two nations, Washington must lift the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which has been maintained for more than 50 years and, return the Guantanamo Bay territory that houses the controversial U.S. prison facility.
Cuba also demands the end to harmful policies that undermine its sovereignty, such as preferential treatment given to Cubans who reach U.S. soil, programs designed to change social systems of the island and television broadcasts to the Caribbean nation that its government deems propaganda.
Josefina Vidal, the head of the Foreign Ministry U.S. Department, is leading the Cuban delegation. The U.S. is led by Kristie Kenney, advisor to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.