Blog Posts

Obama and Romney Out of Touch on Cuba

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The Latin America Working Group is pleased to re-post this piece on U.S.-Cuba policy from our colleague at the Washington Office on Latin America, Geoff Thale. At LAWG, we are trying to maximize the opening recently made available by President Obama for increased travel to Cuba -- people-to-people travel, educational travel, religious travel, cultural travel. We are encouraging and educating the public on "how-to" travel to Cuba. See our on-line brochure, "How-to Travel to Cuba" here . We are very aware of how tenuous this small opening is, and how far it is from "Travel for All" with no restrictions. And we are aware that with just a stroke of the pen from a new President, these advances could be erased. We ask for your help in preventing that roll-back. Sign up for our Cuba policy updates and action alerts here.  And "like" our "End the Travel Ban on Cuba" Facebook page here

The 2012 presidential race is effectively underway, and the two leading candidates have both recently made statements about Cuba. While they may differ in emphasis, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney clearly share one thing: they are both out of touch when it comes to Cuba and what U.S. policy should be towards the island.

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New U.S. cities to open direct flights to Cuba

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Big news! Havanatur Celimar, which is the branch of Cuban tour operator Havanatur that handles the U.S. travel market, has reported that Cuba has approved a bundle of U.S. airports, plus charter service providers and relevant airlines, for landing rights in a variety of Cuban airports (Havana, Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, and Manzanillo). These U.S. airports have already received U.S. permission to begin charter flights to Cuba, as directed by President Obama in January of this year.

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Cuban Americans Don’t Want This

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Regarding a recent attempt by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL 21st) to restrict Cuban-American family travel to Cuba, it is reported that Rep. Diaz-Balart maintains that an overwhelming 90% of the Cuban-American community supports his amendment.

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How Art Bridges the Florida Straits

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On Tuesday, June 21st, Cuban contemporary artist Sandra Ramos spoke about her work at the Smithsonian’s National Gallery of Art. Her art represents deeply personal accounts of the connection between herself, society and Cuba. Sandra breaks through censorship issues to present an honest view of Cuba by discussing issues such as migration, political education and cultural contradictions.  The paintings and exhibits that she creates make audiences take an introspective look at the effects of various influences in their lives and how those aspects affect them.

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A Traveler's Tale: Shattering Stereotypes on Both Sides of the Florida Straits

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Studying abroad in Cuba was an experience that is impossible to forget. People’s eyes bulge whenever I mention that I lived in Cuba for five months. A torpedo of questions always follow; “Did you feel safe? How did you survive? Isn’t Cuba communist?” While I love to discuss my time spent in Cuba, it’s questions like these that make my mind race and my blood boil.

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A Lost Connection

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On February 26, 2007, the New York Philharmonic performed in Pyongyang, North Korea. This was the first time a U.S. cultural organization had stepped foot on North Korean soil; and not only were the musicians  welcomed into the insulated country, but they were given a five minute round of applause during their final bows.

The Philharmonic’s performance, dubbed “Symphonic Diplomacy” by the New York Times,  didn’t create instant harmony (even though there is harmony in dissonance, so I’m told by my friend, Emily) between Washington and Pyongyang. But the performance did make an impact.

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Obama Raises Cuba in Chile Speech

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Yesterday, in a speech given at the Centro Cultural Palacio Moneda in Santiago, Chile, President Obama gave his first Latin America speech since the 2008 Summit of the Americas. While he spoke of many important issues regarding the region – and LAWG will be reviewing the speech in detail, so keep checking our blog and website for that – the Cuba team wanted to share the substantial Cuba portion of the speech with you today.

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Obama's New Travel Regulations are Official

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On Friday, January 25th the Obama Administration’s new travel regulations were published in the Federal Registry, effective immediately and apparently with no comment period. Guidelines are still being drafted by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and that is where the details of the new regulations will become clear. OFAC says that the guidelines will be released “soon.”

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Whoever said “less is more” was just, well, wrong . . . in this case.

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Cultural exchanges have always been an important element of expanding one’s knowledge about countries throughout the world. While certain countries may possess different political ideologies, religious beliefs, or speak different languages from the United States, “intercambios” allow citizens to become familiar with everyday people from cultures that are different from ours. And knowing the people encourages understanding and peaceful co-existence. For countries that are polar opposites on the political and/or social spectrum—like Cuba and the United States, for  example—exchanges  between students, artists, faith groups, farmers, sports teams (fill in your own community here) help humanize the “other.” And in more cases than not, these exchanges assist all parties to find common ground and shared experiences, despite outward differences.

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UN Vote on Cuba, the 19th

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For the 19th consecutive year the United Nations General Assembly has voted against the United States’ policy toward Cuba.  This year the vote, occurring October 26, a day or two sooner than expected, was 187 (supporting Cuba’s non-binding resolution condemning the embargo) to 2 (voting against the resolution:  the United States and Israel), with 3 abstaining (Palau, the Marshall Island, Micronesia). See an article on the vote here.

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