Photo: Ken Salazar
Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he favors “normalizing” relations between his country and Cuba, and expressed optimism at the chances of seeing that happen in the next few years.
Salazar, who represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate before joining President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, took part in the Tribuna EFE-Casa de America forum in Madrid.
While the main focus was on the growing strength of the Hispanic community in the United States, Salazar noted that a current of public opinion in his country favors a change in relations with Cuba, and said “I’m one of them.”
He also said that Cubans living in the United States agree on beginning “a new stage” in relations with Cuba.
Salazar was among the prominent figures who signed an open letter asking Obama to use his executive authority to enact measures that will “deepen the changes already underway” in Cuba.
The message, backed by the Cuba Study Group and the Council of the Americas, acknowledges the progress the U.S. government has made in supporting the Cuban people by opening trips to Cuban-American families and expanding remittances, but urges that another step be taken at a time when public opinion is favorable to a new approach.
But publication of the letter was roundly criticized by the Cuban exile in South Florida.
“The exile community is very pained by what has happened” but knows that times have changed, Salazar told Efe.
“We have reached a new stage and relations have to be normalized,” he said.
He appeared optimistic about the “benefits of this change for Cuba and the United States.”