Wednesday, December 17, 2014

United States Cuba Relations: The U.S. and Cuba Have an "Adults in the Room" Moment

As we had predicted here and posted on this blog in May, 2012 in The Freedom of Alan Gross and The Cuban Five, peace and courage have prevailed and Alan Gross is back in the U.S. and the remaining three of the Cuban Five have been freed and sent back to Cuba!  This historic moment for the resetting of relations and the opportunity to meaningfully engage Cuba bodes well for the future. Emotional and intellectual maturity have prevailed over political posturing, denial, and egos.  This was no easy task.

We salute President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the team who worked very hard to resolve these human issues.  Very serious hard work remains to be done.   Similarly, those who oppose this rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba on Capitol Hill will be able to throw obstacles on the normalization pathway that finally begins to unfold.  We will have a year end overview and outlook, including analysis of this announcement by President Obama and what the new makeup of Congress will have in store for U.S. Cuba relations.

On a personal note, this year has been one of challenges and growth.  We look forward to resuming publishing regular updates and analysis.  We welcome the participation of other similarly minded writers who are interested in working with us.

-Tony Martinez,  Editor

...read more ⇒

Monday, March 10, 2014

United States Cuba Relations: Great Expectations in Miami March 15th

This weekend March 15, 2014, a very important meeting will take place in Miami, FL where Cuban Americans For Engagement CAFE, will lead a conference of individuals from various groups and the Cuban American moderate community with the purpose to develop ways to improve U.S. Cuba relations.  This translates actually to the lifting of travel restrictions and an end to the insane embargo that just about everyone agrees should end.  However, the hardline in Miami and Union City disagrees and actually controls these issues .  The challenge will be how to get there.  For more than ten years there have been meetings like the one that is about to take place.  With much fanfare and excitement, the community seemingly gets together, but then the follow through has been paltry and segregated.  The results speak for themselves.  The status quo remains the same.  For as many people who will attend, thousands of others and the media will be watching to see just how serious this effort is going to be.

During next weekend's meeting, participants must choose to be different than other past conferences.  If there is going to be a real campaign to change U.S. Cuba relations, those attending must leave that conference united in a single purpose and focused on taking genuine committed action to actually achieve what everyone says they want.  Lifting the travel restrictions will require an Act of Congress.  Lifting the embargo will require an Act of Congress.   President Obama has done whatever he is going to do on Cuba.  There is no political justification yet for the Administration to do more.  No poll, petition, email, or phone call can make that happen unless we also have the voters and politicians elected to make that a reality.  The dark and true reality is the reverse.  There is a voting bloc that elects politicians and contributes to keep the restrictions and embargo in place.  While the pro-embargo anti U.S. Cuba engagement side is annoyed by the Atlantic Council's recent poll showing overwhelming support to end the embargo, it still holds the cards and has the Congressional politicians to hold the policy in place.  They will only be concerned by one thing - how serious this conference will be and will it result in raising money and organizing votes to change our policies.  U.S. Cuba relations will go nowhere unless the pro-embargo constituency is ultimately challenged and defeated at the ballot box.  NGOs, think tanks, and academics writing from ivory towers will not change this political reality either nor can they provide the leadership required to enact political change.

In this election year, such a conference's effectiveness ultimately can only be measured by how many voters it will register in this election cycle and turnout to vote.  How can this group actually influence and win elections? That is the challenge before this constituency.   Moreover, the critical question on how many political donors such a conference can create is one to pursue since everyone who is either a Legal Permanent Resident or a U.S. Citizen can legally make a political contribution under Federal election law.  With more than 400,000 traveling to Cuba legally each year, why aren't there at least as many political contributions being made?  With that many and more Americans and Cuban Americans who favor unrestricted travel to Cuba, a political contribution of the equivalent of a night out at the movies $20-$30 per person can actually add up to some serious political capital in Washington DC, especially in an election year. Everyone gets to be politically influential in such a scenario.  Who are going to unite and lead this community to electoral victory?

May Cuban Americans and Americans who think alike unite like never before in a common purpose to bring an end to failed policies and reconcile two countries long divided for far too long.  Whatever aspirations we may have for Cuba, nothing good has come or will come from our politics of isolation and revenge.  Democracy has no roots in travel restrictions or an embargo.  Time to play the game to win.

"Once more unto the breach dear friends. Once more..." - Henry V- Shakespeare ...read more ⇒

Monday, February 24, 2014

United States Cuba Relations: Please Come to Miami for Sunshine and CAFE March 15, 2014

Cuban Americans For Engagement (CAFE)

February 19, 2014

The time is right to get engaged! Everyone is doing it!
More than 64% of Miami-Dade County wants to!
Let's do it! In Miami, March 15th.

The last few weeks we've seen a whirlwind of activity in favor of normalizing government relations and healing human relationships across the Florida Straits. The Atlantic Council's Public Opinion Poll exposed the fallacy of the "Florida vote" excuse for maintaining the embargo. Senators Flake and Leahy published an op-ed in the Miami Herald, supporting normalization. Senators, Sanders, Tester and Heitkamp returned from Cuba calling for renewed relations. Florida Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist shined a spotlight on his campaign by announcing his anti-embargo platform. And let's not forget Alfy Fanjul openly displaying his capacity for dialogue. He is not alone.

Cuban Americans For Engagement, joined by FORNORM, Generacion Cambio Cubano & Cuba Educational Travel invite you to the Sofitel Hotel of Miami to participate in the one-day conference/gathering

“US/Cuba Relations, the Second Obama Administration:

The Cuban-American Community and changes in Cuba-Building bridges for better relations.”

Early Bird lunch discount before March 1st   Email: cafeconferencia@gmail.com

Here's a sampling of panelists!

Silvia Wilhelm- Founder and Executive Director of Puentes Cubanos Inc. and of the Cuban-American Commission for Family Rights.

Antonio Zamora- Author of What I Learned About Cuba By Going To Cuba, Law Professor at FIU, and co-owner of CubaNews.

Dr. Guillermo Grenier- FIU Professor, author, and lead investigator of FIU Cuba Poll, cosponsored by Cuban Research Institute.

Yasmin Portales- Coordinator Proyecto Arcoiris/Rainbow Project, blogger, and participant of Red Observatorio Crítico.

Roberto Veiga & Lenier González- Editors of Espacio Laical, publication of the Archbishop of Havana. ...read more ⇒