On April 2, Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), along with Representatives Farr (D-CA), McGovern (D-MA), Emerson (R-MO), DeLauro (D-CT), Chaffetz (new member, R-UT), Lee (D-CA), Berry (D-AR), and Edwards (D-MD), plus important leaders within the Cuban-American community, participated in a block-buster press conference announcing HR 874, the House companion to the Senate travel bill, S 428. The Cuban Americans hit it out of the park, leaving no doubt about the support for "travel for all" from the Cuban-American community. We wish you could have been there.
Cuban Americans who participated were Silvia Wilhelm of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights, Alfredo Duran of the Cuban Committee for Democracy, Ignacio Sosa of the Cuba Study Group, and Bishop Felipe Estevez, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdioceses of Miami. All four enthusiastically support the right of ALL Americans to travel to Cuba without U.S. restrictions.
Bills are announced in Washington, DC, almost every day; and legislation calling for an end to the travel ban has been introduced on multiple occasions. So why the big deal this time? Well… something feels different this year –beginning with Rep. Serrano's (D-NY) Cuba provisions from the financial services subcommittee on the omnibus spending bill, and we want to share that feeling with you. This is our year! Even the Colbert Report noticed; check out his website for a video here.
Both the House press conference on April 2 and the Senate press conference on March 31 generated a lot of media about the travel ban, and it's undeniable that momentum is building around changing these ridiculous and cruel restrictions.
To check if your senators or representative have co-sponsored the bills, visit www.thomas.gov and search for bill numbers H.R. 874 and S. 428. If she/he hasn't, please call (Capitol switchboard 202.224.3121) or send an email here (House of Reps) and here (Senate). Our numbers are good (20 cosponsors in the Senate; 125 in the House), but they need to get better if we are to assure that we have the votes for passage, which is the key to bringing these two bills to votes.
Your work contacting your members and telling your friends has gotten us to this point, and we want to thank you for everything you've done. Please, keep your energy and determination high. Check back often to our website, www.lawg.org, for the most recent information. If you aren't yet part of LAWG's Cuba policy email network, sign up here, and if you can, consider donating to the campaign here.
We were determined to be in those press conference rooms, representing all of you, who for so many years have been demanding our right to travel and to share our experiences and lives with our neighbors in Cuba. When the travel ban is finally ended, it will be YOUR VICTORY! Thank you.