November 4th marked an historical change for the United States of America. President-elect Barack Obama represents CHANGE on many levels, and many people expect CHANGE in a great many things: the economy, two wars, a planet in peril, etc . . . you know the list by now.
As in every post-election, there exists a window of opportunity to take our country in a new direction. And how fitting that we call for change in U.S.-Cuba policy by a president-elect whose campaign, at its very core, called for change.
There are several articles we'd like to recommend to you:
- An article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, on the hope of reconciliation between the United States and Latin America, starting with Cuba. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/nov/06/uselections2008-venezuela
- An article reporting Brazilian President Lula's call to President-elect Obama to end the blockade on Cuba. His voice is part of a growing chorus from Latin America. See: http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/americas/news/article_1441295.php/Lula_salutes_Obama_asks_him_to_lift_Cuba_embargo
- A Wall Street Journal article detailing the open door for changes in U.S.-Cuba policy. See: http://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB122602004920007191.html
- A more sobering article in which Frank Sanchez, Obama's Latin America foreign policy advisor, reiterated the president-elect's Cuba policy: " …as president the candidate will move quickly 'within [the] possible and practical bounds of his authority' to lift the family travel and remittances restrictions. Anything more than that, Sanchez told the Miami Herald, will have to wait."
For the first time in recent history a President will take office on January 20, 2009, owing no political debt to the hard-line Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County. After all, President-elect Obama won Florida without the hardliners' help which is an historic feat in itself and one we must use to finally change our policy towards Cuba.
President-elect Obama has several steps available to him. He can work with Congress to end the travel ban, change some travel regulations to the extent of his executive authority, while engaging diplomatically with Cuba in a way that respects its sovereignty as a nation. If we can achieve this, than we can expect that the impact on all of our Latin American neighbors will be profound. It would truly signal a new day for U.S.-Latin America policy.
This message is not a full presentation of strategy and actions, but rather a glimpse of hope and of the progress that we have yet to make. We will be back to you in the coming weeks with requests for your participation in efforts to call on the president-elect and Congress to do the right thing and open up our policies towards Cuba. This will signal that we are ready to chart a new course with the entire region.