Cuban Americans for Engagement Statement on Trump’s Change on Cuba Policy

President Donald Trump’s announcement of a rollback of several Obama-era reforms on US-Cuba policy is a step in the wrong direction. During his electoral campaign, the president promised a “better deal” for Cuba. However, neither the majority of Cuban Americans, nor, the Cubans find anything good in going back in time to measures and restrictions from the Cold War era that will ultimately hurt Cuban families. If the purpose is to strengthen democracy and promote human rights on the island, the new policy will be far from being able to achieve it.

Outlawing business transactions that involve the Cuban military --which is deeply intertwined with the economic sector--, will hurt Cuban civilians. Thinking that the only one affected by this policy is the Cuban government is, if anything, an illusion. Further, by taking part in this surreal charade created by a perverse and insignificant number of Cuban Americans in Congress, President Trump aligns himself with a shameful history of political interference of the U.S. in Cuba’s sovereignty.   

Implementing greater restrictions on traveling of Americans to Cuba will negatively impact the empowerment of the private sector on the island. It will also continue to violate free movement of Americans by dictating to them when, how and with whom they can book a flight to the neighbor island, at a moment when 81% of Americans, including 71% of Republicans support lifting all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

We are sure that the ill-conceived agenda of changing Cuba policy had many more items for Mr. Trump to consider. It is definitively a victory for the Cuban and Cuban American people and the U.S. and Cuba governments that there will continue to be an embassy in both countries, that travels will remain, and that Cuba will never again be unfairly included in a list of state-sponsor of terrorism countries.

We urge president Trump to listen to the voices that represent the real interest of the Cuban people. They, and not a clique of Americans of Cuban descent that have never been in Cuba and therefore, have little love for—let alone, knowledge of the people of Cuba, are the ones who can provide you with a more accurate report of Cuba.

To the Cuban American politicians that orchestrated this shameful act of betrayal, we have a piece of advice: do not consider for a minute to set foot in Cuban soil in the near future. Absolutely nobody there will forgive you for playing the Star-Spangled Banner at your little rally for an allegedly “free Cuba”, without even one mention to the Cuban National Anthem.

 

Comunicado de prensa de acerca de la terminación del la ley "pies secos-pies mojados" y el Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

El presidente Barack Obama ha anunciado la terminación de la ley “pies secos-pies mojados”, implementada por el presidente Bill Clinton en 1995, así como del Cuban Medical Parole Program, diseñado por el presidente George W. Bush en el 2006. Ambos anuncios llegan después de un encuentro entre oficiales cubanos y norteamericanos este jueves en Washington, centrado en el tema del tráfico humano.

La finalización de una prolongada política enfocada en premiar arriesgados viajes con privilegios migratorios exclusivos, es la actitud responsable que debe ser asumida, como también lo es poner fin a un programa que promueve la fuga de cerebros. En lugar de propiciar el cumplimiento y observancia de los derechos humanos, tal como los patrocinadores de estos programas proclamaron, ambas regulaciones dieron lugar consuetudinariamente a una serie de violaciones e inconsistencias, convirtiéndose en obstáculos a la normalización de relaciones los dos ambos países.

Una vez más, el presidente Barack Obama actúa en la dirección correcta con respecto a Cuba y los Estados Unidos. Cuban Americans for Engagement espera que su sucesor se guíe por los mismos principios de compromiso pragmático y diplomacia constructiva. 

Press Release on President Barack Obama’s announcement to end the wet foot-dry foot policy and the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program

January 12. President Barack Obama has announced the termination of the “wet foot-dry foot” policy implemented by President Bill Clinton in 1995, as well as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, fostered by President George W. Bush since 2006. Both announcements came after a recent meeting between Cuban and U.S. officials this Thursday in Washington in an effort to fight human trafficking.

The ending of a longstanding policy that rewarded risky trips with exclusive immigration privileges was the responsible thing to do. So it was putting a stop to a program that consistently drained the country of its professionals. Instead of promoting human rights, as their sponsors proclaimed these programs did, both policies allowed for an array of violations and inconsistencies, serving only as obstacles to the normalization of relations between both countries.

Once more, President Barack Obama acts in the right direction regarding Cuba and the U.S. Cuban Americans for Engagement can only hope its successor is guided by the same principles of pragmatic engagement and constructive diplomacy.    

CAFE commends U.S. Representatives For The Reintroduction of Bipartisan Bill to Lift the Embargo

U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer (R-MN) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), along with Rick Crawford (R-AR), Mark Sanford (R-SC), Don Beyer (D-VA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Justin Amash (R-MI), and members of the House Cuba Working Group, reintroduced today the Cuban Trade Act of 2017, which advocates for lifting the embargo and the restoring of normal trade with Cuba.

Cuban Americans for Engagement has consistently condemned the embargo/ blockade of the U.S. on our nation of origin. Even when it was not the most popular position to uphold, we have denounced the embargo as immoral, illegal and counterproductive.

We applaud Rep. Emmer, Rep. Castor, members of the House Cuba Working Group and all representatives involved, for the reintroduction of this bill. Lifting the embargo will only serve the best interests of the U.S. and the Cuban people. 

CAFE commends U.S. representatives for the reintroduction of Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act

Just two weeks before the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Rep. Mark Sanford (SC-01) and Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) have reintroduced the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act for consideration by the 115th Congress, a legislation that would remove restrictions on traveling to Cuba for tourist purposes.

“Unless there is an overwhelming threat to national security, every United States citizen has the constitutional right to free travel as they, not the federal government, see fit”, expressed the representatives in a press release emitted yesterday, January 6 of 2017.

CAFE commends Congressmen Mark Sanford and Jim McGovern for taking the leadership on this matter. Cuban Americans for Engagement is proud to have met with Rep. McGovern in the past to communicate our concerns about this and many other issues concerning the relationship between our nation of origin and the U.S. We look forward to continue working with him, as well as developing new areas of collaboration with Rep. Sanford and other congressmen who are taking a leading roll on issues pertaining to our Cuban and U.S. communities. 

Comunicado de prensa de CAFE sobre el segundo aniversario del restablecimiento de relaciones diplomáticas entre Cuba y EEUU

Hoy, 17 de diciembre de 2016, Cuban Americans for Engagement quiere felicitar nuevamente la decisión del presidente Barack Obama de iniciar una nueva dinámica entre Cuba y EEUU. En estos dos años, aunque los avances han estado marcados por las lógicas restricciones y anquilosamiento que han caracterizado la relación entre las dos naciones por más de 50 años, hemos sido testigos de avances beneficiosos para las dos naciones, quedando en evidencia a la vez la inutilidad y anacronismo del embargo.

Las nuevas dinámicas de intercambio han posibilitado cambios palpables, que incluyen:

-Presencia de Carnival Cruise en La Habana, primer crucero en atracar en puerto cubano en más medio siglo.

-Apertura de nuevas compañías hoteleras

-Nuevos acuerdos bancarios

-Recién inaugurados viajes comerciales por las aerolíneas Delta, Jetblue, American Airlines y Southwest Airlines, entre otras

-Acuerdo entre Google y Etecsa para facilitar mayor y más rápida conectividad en la isla.

Aplaudimos al presidente Barack Obama por estos cambios, e instamos al presidente electo, Donald Trump, no solo a respetar el nuevo camino de intercambio que ambas naciones han decidido tomar, sino a continuar y enriquecer dichas dinámicas. Sólo estaría honrando el deseo de una mayoría, tanto de cubanos, como de americanos y de cubano-americanos. 

CAFE da la bienvenida al Presidente Obama a Cuba

CAFE se complace expresar nuestro agradecimiento y apoyo al presidente Barack Obama por haber puesto en marcha el proceso de normalización de las relaciones con Cuba. Mientras el presidente, su familia, los miembros de su gabinete, y un gran contingente de miembros del Congreso de Estados Unidos y el personal se alistan para llegar a La Habana esta tarde, se hace evidente que la marcha hacia la normalización y la reconciliación es inevitable. Esta visita oficial, impensable hace sólo unos pocos años, marca un hito importante del fin de la primera fase de ese proceso.

Esperamos que sirva como incentivo para que ambas naciones avancen hacia la consecución de la digna meta de forjar una nueva relación basada en el respeto mutuo y la cooperación. Para que esto suceda, el Congreso debe actuar ahora para derogar la red de legislaciones que codifican el embargo. El presidente ha recortado gradualmente las restricciones bajo su jurisdicción a fin de proporcionar una apertura entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba. Los ciudadanos norteamericanos en los sectores públicos y privados han acogido este acercamiento. Es hora de que el Congreso actúe apoyando la política del presidente y  la voluntad del pueblo.

Alentamos al presidente y todos los que le acompañan a reunirse con todos los cubanos que se encuentren, y no sólo los que se consideran como disidentes. El presidente Obama es muy popular en la isla en todas las corrientes de la sociedad civil y muchos cubanos, donde quiera que residan, están a favor de la normalización. Sólo podemos esperar que este viaje acelera el ciclo virtuoso ya establecido entre las dos naciones e impulse a ambos gobiernos a tomar medidas audaces en la dirección correcta.

CAFE welcomes President Obama to Cuba

New York, NY/Havana, Cuba

The executive committee of CAFE has released this press release concerning President Obama's historic trip to Cuba:

CAFE is pleased to express our gratitude and our support for President Barack Obama for having set in motion the overdue process of normalization of relations with Cuba. As the president, his family, members of his cabinet, and a large contingent of U.S. congressional members and staff are set to arrive in Havana this afternoon it is evident that the inevitable march towards normalization and reconciliation continues without pause. This official visit, unthinkable just a few years ago, marks an important milestone of the end of the first phase in that process. 

We hope that it will serve as an incentive for both nations to work towards realizing the worthy goal of forging a new relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation. For this to happen, Congress must now act to repeal the web of legislation that codifies the embargo and send it to a president that will sign off on normalization. The president has gradually whittled away at the restrictions under his jurisdiction so as to provide an opening between the United States and Cuba and American citizens in the public and private sectors have welcomed this rapprochement by engaging with the island in a robust manner. It is time for Congress to act and support the president’s policy and the people’s will.

 We encourage the president and all those accompanying him to ask all Cubans that they encounter, and not just those deemed as dissidents. President Obama is extremely popular on the island in all streams of the civil society and the overwhelming majority of Cubans, wherever they may reside, are in favor of normalization. CAFE can only hope that this trip accelerates the virtuous cycle already established between both nations and spurs both federal governments to take bold steps forward.

CAFE denounces Marti Noticias for slander

CAFE denounces Marti Noticias for proving, once again, its utter lack of journalistic integrity by publishing an article slandering Arturo Lopez-Levy. Not only was this not original material, being from an obscure blog, but it was also a complete misinterpretation of Lopez Levy's highly sought-after analysis. The article is yet another example of Marti Noticias dissemination of pro-embargo ideology and McCarthyist dogma. 

 The author of this slander, Mr. Alfonso, is well known in Miami circles for his admitted participation in a conflict-of-interest scandal that involved him and other journalists who were working for the Miami Herald while in government's payroll under the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Alfonso never gave back or donated the more than $ 50,000 he inappropriately took from the public budget.

 Not only does Marti Noticias waste taxpayer money with baseless slanders by “journalists” with a spurious past and a questionable professional background, they continually play the role of cheerleaders, instead of objective journalists, when covering Republican presidential candidates such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Both candidates have vowed to reverse the very measures that an ever-increasing majority of Cuban Americans and 97% of Cubans on the island view as positive and necessary. How can an organization that uses the most important figure in Cuban history, politics, and culture as a namesake blindly support the bluster of politicians who threaten the livelihood and well-being of the Cuban diaspora?   

 From its inception, Radio Marti has served an interventionist agenda in Cuba's internal affairs. However, the pro-embargo role it has taken has never been authorized by the U.S. congress. The issue of supporting or opposing the U.S. embargo towards Cuba is a question of internal debate within the American political community. The U.S. government should not use one more cent of American taxpayers' dollars to promote a policy rejected by a wide majority of the Cuban American community, and by the American population at large. 

 President Obama has called for a new era of US-Cuba relations and Marti Noticias does not fit within that vision, nor does it play any role whatsoever in the process of normalization. As such, it should cease to be a burden upon the American taxpayer.

Comunicado a propósito de la visita del Papa Francisco a Cuba y los EE.UU.

La directiva de CAFE ( Cuban Americans for Engagement) divulgó el siguiente comunicado de prensa a cerca de la visita del Papa Francisco a los Estados Unidos:

CAFE le da la bienvenida a los Estados Unidos al Papa Francisco tras su histórica visita a la República de Cuba. Agradecemos su rol protagonista en el acercamiento de las dos naciones. Celebramos su dedicación al proceso de normalización y su llamado a que la Iglesia Católica sirva para construir puentes, derrumbar muros, y sembrar las semillas de la reconciliación. El pueblo cubano recibió con júbilo y respeto este mensaje de esperanza e inspiración.

Imploramos al Congreso de los Estados Unidos que preste atención a las previas llamadas del Papa Francisco al levantamiento del embargo hacia la isla caribeña, y que tenga en cuenta sus agudas consideraciones acerca del reciente progreso en relaciones bilaterales como un ejemplo de reconciliación para el mundo entero. CAFE le da las gracias a su Santidad por el significativo papel que tanto él como el Vaticano han jugado en el histórico restablecimiento de relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, y por contribuir a forjar una relación más humana y más digna entre ambas naciones.

Press Release about Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the United States

The board of directors of CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) submitted the following press release regarding Pope Francis' visit to the United States:

CAFE welcomes Pope Francis to the United States after his historic tour of the Republic of Cuba. Having been a major power broker in encouraging the rapprochement between the two nations we salute his dedication to the process of normalization and his message that the Catholic Church serves to " build bridges, to break down walls, (and) to sow seeds of reconciliation." His message for the Cuban people was that of hope and inspiration and the reaction of the majority of Cuban nation was one of jubilation and respect.

 

We implore the Congress of the United States to listen to the pontiff's previous calls for lifting the embargo against the island nation and to consider his astute analysis of the recent detente "as an example of reconciliation for whole world". CAFE thanks his Holiness for the important role that he and the Vatican have played in the historic re-establishment of relations and his ongoing role in bringing about a more humane and dignified relationship between both nations.

Comunicado de CAFE a propósito de la apertura de la embajada estadounidense en la Habana.

La Junta Directiva de CAFE emitió el siguiente comunicado de prensa sobre la re-apertura de la Embajada norteamericana en La Habana:

Cuban Americans for Engagement quiere saludar la reapertura de la embajada norteamericana en la Habana. Nos reconforta ver este paso dado por el presidente Obama para beneficio de los pueblos de Cuba y EE.UU. La presencia del Secretario John Kerry en Cuba expresa la voluntad de avanzar en el proceso de distensión y pasar la página de uno de los capítulos más tristes de las relaciones entre EE.UU y America Latina signada por la falta de respeto a la soberanía de Cuba. La rectificación del presidente Obama coloca a su administración a la altura de los grandes valores de la nación norteamericana.  

Exhortamos a la Casa Blanca a lanzar un nuevo paquete de medidas por el cual se desmantele de un solo golpe todo lo que del embargo pueda ser levantado desde la rama ejecutiva. No hay nada que pedir a cambio por acabar lo que ha sido una violación del derecho internacional desde el inicio.