President Obama today returned the right of Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba whenever they want and to support their families with remittances in whatever amount. We applaud that action. And we urge the President to do more. Watch this video of Silvia Wilhelm, founder and executive director of Puentes Cubanos, asking for “travel for all” in addition to “travel for some.”
The President did carry through on his campaign promise; and we hope he will further listen to voices of Americans and Cuban Americans calling for dramatic change in U.S. policy.
This call is echoed by the unified urging from Latin American presidents for dialogue and engagement with Cuba. In fact, Latin American presidents are calling for an end to the embargo. The United States is alone in the hemisphere in its attempted isolation of Cuba; U.S.- Cuba policy has resulted only in our own isolation. If we want to signal to Latin America that the game has changed, further opening up to Cuba is a sure way make the message clear. Here are several quotes from Latin American presidents:
Brazilian President Lula, meeting in Brasilia on 8 April with Cuban Foreign Minister Rodriguez, reaffirmed his government’s stance to end the embargo and stated that relations between the United States and Cuba should “return to normal,” according to a report in Rio de Janeiro’s top-circulation daily O Globo, 9 April.
Chilean President Bachelet said it was time to “put an end” to the embargo, and she expressed Chile’s “full support” for efforts undertaken by some OAS countries to convince Cuba to return to the OAS, according to the government website (12 February) and top-circulation El Mercurio, 9 March.
Costa Rican President Arias announced the reestablishment of full diplomatic relations with Cuba on 18 March, immediately after Salvadoran President-elect Funes said in an 18 March news conference that he would do the same when he takes office on 1 June (La Nacion, 19 March).
See a listing of a broad range of supporters of “travel for all” here.
The Havana Note has a post on steps the executive could take to signal a further change in our policy to Cuba.
“Travel for some” is simply not adequate. The Congress must pass HR 874 and S 428, to allow “Travel for all.” And the President must sign it into law.