Speaking recently before a university audience in Kentucky, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared her thoughts about the future of U.S.-Cuban relations. She touched on many headline-grabbing issues, but her comment that it's her “personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would then lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years" is what got Cuba's, and the international media's, attention.
On Monday, April 5th, two Cuban medical students spoke about
contemporary Cuba in an open forum at American University in
Washington, DC. The students, Yenaivis Fuentes Ascencio and Aníbal
Ramos Socarrás*, are the first students to receive visas from the
United States since 2002 after President Bush severely curtailed
academic exchanges between the United States and Cuba. In fact, in one
positive advancement under the Obama Administration, visas for Cubans
to travel to the United States are up approximately 65 percent overall,
according to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
On February 23, 2010, Orlando Zapata Tamayo died in a Havana hospital,
where he had been transferred from prison after an 83-day hunger strike
in Cuba. Mr. Zapata was among the 75 internal opposition activists
detained in Cuba in March of 2003. He and the others were quickly tried
and sentenced. Mr. Zapata was serving a 36-year sentence, extended
from an original three-year sentence. He was one of 55 Cubans who have
been designated by Amnesty International as “Prisoners of Conscience.”
The Latin America Working Group expresses our utmost sorrow at his
passing and our distress over this tragic and indefensible death. We
call upon the Cuban government to institute a thorough investigation
into Mr. Zapata’s death.
While some historic snowstorms and the President's Day recess sidetracked our congressional advocacy work in the first couple weeks of February, the introduction of the Peterson-Moran Cuba bill (HR 4645) has helped us regain our "travel for all" momentum and represents our best chance to end the travel ban on Cuba in 2010.
A United States delegation led by Craig Kelly, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, met with Cuban officials led by Dagoberto Rodríguez, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, in Havana on Friday, February 19th, to discuss migration issues. This meeting marked the second round of migration talks since their suspension in 2004 by President George W. Bush.
On February 11th, Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), long time pro-embargo supporter (and creator), announced that he will not run for his tenth term this coming November.
“I am convinced that in the upcoming chapter of the struggle, I can be more useful to the inevitable change that will soon come to Cuba, to Cuba’s freedom, as a private citizen dedicated to helping the heroes within Cuba,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart.
If you've been following the national news, you've probably heard that Washington, DC, has been slammed by more snowstorms than usual this winter season (only Syracuse, NY, has had more). This past weekend's snowstorm, dubbed "Snowmageddon" by President Obama and "Snowpocalypse" by some LAWG staffers and other DC-area residents, was so powerful that the Federal Government has remained closed since the snowflakes began falling last Friday afternoon. Today, we're being hit by yet another snowstorm, and we haven't even finished shoveling and plowing ourselves out of the last one!
On a cold afternoon during the last days of 2009, a man dressed in a
black shirt, black pants, and a black hat walked through the quiet
halls of Congress with a guitar in hand. While no passerby could have
known it, this was a landmark moment for Grammy award-winning Cuban
singer-songwriter Carlos Varela. For the past ten years, Varela had
been denied a visa to tour in the United States due to harsher travel
restrictions imposed by the Bush Administration.
Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) hosted a briefing and performance
with Varela that highlighted the importance of international cultural
exchange. Varela—who has been compared to Bob Dylan for his beautiful,
often controversial lyrics and prolific repertoire—was frank in his
views on the problems caused by the increased restrictions on travel
between the U.S. and Cuba in recent years.
The Haitian earthquake that occurred on January 12th has left the poorest nation in our hemisphere in an even worse position. However, the international community has made a remarkable humanitarian effort to contribute to the relief of the Haitian people. Even nations that are typically at odds have joined together to help.
“The cigar-chomping, no-nonsense general who lifted New Orleans from
the depths of Hurricane Katrina in late 2005 thinks Cuba has some
important lessons to teach the United States in storm-fighting, and he
wants warmer relations with the nation's neighbor to the south for that
See the full article from the shreveporttimes.com here.