RI Leaders join President for historic Cuba visit

Half of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation is with President Obama for this historic trip to Cuba.

Congressman David Cicilline spoke to ABC 6 News by phone from the Communist country Monday night.

"There are so many challenges here. I think people recognize that this is going to be a long process. It’s not going to change overnight, but there’s tremendous optimism and excitement among the Cuban people,” said Cicilline.

Congressman Cicilline is in favor lifting the travel and embargo ban immediately.

"It’s a policy that has not worked and if we are going to continue to press hard and work on other issues important to us we can only do that by being really engaged,” said Cicilline.

While in Cuba, Cicilline is meeting with business leaders, having dinner with President Obama and speaking to URI and Brown students studying abroad.

This is the first time a sitting president has visited the impoverished country in nearly nine decades.

"I think it is really about the beginning of a new relationship. There obviously will be lots of opportunities to talk about opportunities for Rhode Island businesses and the advancement of Rhode Island companies. We are really early in this new relationship and it’s really about demonstrating the commitment of the US to improve communication in this country,” said Cicilline.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is also in Cuba for the visit.

(C) WLNE 2016