Friday, February 2, 2007

Press Statement on Congressional Delegation to Cuba


We wish to express our great appreciation for the initiative by ten members of Congress, led by Representative Jeff Flake, and for readiness by officials of the government of Cuba, to open an honest dialog about differences between our countries and opportunities to overcome them.

The Congressional delegation embodies the bipartisan majority that previously voted to end all travel restrictions and the 67% of Americans who favor normal relations with Cuba as reported this past week by Gallup. ("Americans' support for diplomacy with the island nation is higher now than it has been in recent years," Gallup reports, an increase of 12% since 2004.)

US policy has failed to accomplish its goals after more than forty years. Instead of isolating Cuba, we have isolated ourselves from the viewpoints of every other country in our hemisphere and virtually the entire membership of the United Nations. Instead of changing a regime, we have denied to the United States the natural influence that comes from normal economic and cultural ties with a close neighbor.

Local interest-group politics in the United States has been allowed to speak louder than national opinion and national interests.

The Cuban people must decide for themselves the implications of an ongoing peaceful transition of political leadership.

Americans can assist that process by removing artificial barriers and coercive relationships between our nations.

The place to begin is to restore the right of all Americans to travel freely to Cuba to engage in personal and organizational discovery and dialogs of their own.

We must open the doors to unrestricted family reunions as well as visits by foreign affairs and civic organizations, alumni and museum groups, religious and humanitarian networks, high school and university students, sports and cultural enthusiasts, etc. Farmers and business people should be able to investigate freely opportunities for trade and investment now and after the US embargo is ended.

Average grass roots Americans must be able to go to their local travel agent and book a ticket to travel to Cuba to learn about the history, culture, natural attractions and daily life of a close and heretofore forbidden neighbor. They will join two million visitors annually from Canada, Europe and every other country of the world on group excursions, personal walking tours or by renting a car and exploring wherever their interests dictate.

Congress can and must restore the right of all Americans to travel to Cuba in 2007. This is a bipartisan cause, with leaders of reform on both sides of the aisle. However, new Congressional leadership and control of key committees and of the conference process can assure that the will of the majority can now be exercised.

The signers of this statement are a representative sample of the organizations and e-mail networks working at the District and State level, as well as in Washington, to support renewal of an important traditional American freedom that will also serve better our nation's real interests.

Mavis Anderson, Latin America Working Group
Francisco Aruca, President, Radio Progreso, Miami Fl
Hilda Diaz, President, Marazul Charters, Inc.
Delvis Fernandez, Cuban American Alliance Education Fund
Louis Head, Cuba Research & Analysis Group
Andrea Holbrook, Travel Industry Committee on Cuba
Mary Day Kent, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section
Sandra Levinson, Center for Cuban Studies
Pamela Ann Martin, Molimar Export Consultants, Inc.
John McAuliff, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Kirsten Moller, Global Exchange
Ruben G. Rumbaut, ENCASA US/CUBA
Bob Schwartz, Disarm Education Fund
Wayne S. Smith, Center for International Policy
Melinda St. Louis, Witness for Peace
Geoff Thale, Washington Office on Latin America
Lisa Valanti, U.S.-Cuba Sister Cities Association
Richard M. Walden, President & CEO, Operation USA
Silvia Wilhelm, Cuban American Commission for Family Rights


For further information, please contact John McAuliff

Work phone 914-231-6270
Mobile 917-859-9025

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