Family Travels in Washington, Family Values Take Flight in Florida

June 27, 2008

Dear Friend:

This is different.

It’s the Congressional equivalent of a “man bites dog” story – we actually have good news to report on U.S. policy. The House Appropriations Committee has approved three provisions in a Treasury Department budget bill that would loosen restrictions on Cuban Americans who want to visit the island to see their families and make it easier for the U.S. to sell food to the Cuban people.

President Bush has always vowed to veto legislation like this, and Congress has blinked under pressure before. But as we look past the Bush administration and toward a new era of U.S.-Cuba relations, it is a welcome indication that some legislators are willing to entertain reforms in a failed policy that divides families and uses food as a political weapon. Good work, House Appropriations, and thanks to our champions, who include Representatives Jose Serrano and Rosa DeLauro.

This is not different.

If these reforms are theory, then Florida’s efforts to make travel harder is a fact. See our report on Florida putting new obstacles in the way of travel service providers who help Cuban-Americans reunite with their families. Family values? Not in Florida.

Read on, and you’ll learn about developments in medicine, sports diplomacy, and improvements in the European Union’s diplomacy toward Cuba.

This week, in Cuba news…

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EU drops sanctions; House panel drops travel limits; you drop a line to Congress

June 20, 2008

Dear Reader:

As the blast was loaded and readied for publication, the European Union voted to remove diplomatic sanctions against Cuba imposed five years ago. The move was opposed by the United States but defended by Spain in recognition of reform in Cuba.

A panel in the U.S. Congress voted to lift restrictions on travel by Cuban-Americans to visit their families on Cuba. The limits were imposed by President Bush during the last presidential campaign, and his administration opposes removing them. Action is expected soon on this measure and we need your involvement to express support, see this action item below.

We know the policy is wrong, but are the politics right? Don’t be so sure: a new poll in two key Florida congressional districts shows that majorities now favor removing the limitations. The numbers must really be startling; one of the incumbents now wants to talk about health care. Now that is news.

These stories and much, much more…

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Doing it differently in Cuba, Florida, Europe

June 12, 2008

Dear Friend:

In Europe, they do it differently….Cuba policy, we mean.

The European Union is having a real debate about whether their regime of sanctions should be replaced by a policy of engagement, with advocates arguing that diplomacy produces results.

In Cuba, they’re doing it differently, too.

A significant reform that will raise wages, first announced last February, is now being implemented in Cuba. Under the new system, pay will be linked to performance, with Cuban officials arguing that “egalitarianism has not worked for production.”
But in Florida, some things never change.

Florida’s governor is nearing a decision to sign legislation that will make it more difficult and more expensive for travel companies to arrange trips for Cuban-Americans to visit their families on the island. And one presidential candidate is running a “get-tough” advertising campaign, trolling for votes in the Cuban-American precincts of Miami.

Here at the news summary, we’re doing it all over again! It’s another week in Cuba news….

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Is this Diplomacy? U.S. to the EU: don’t talk to Cuba. Meanwhile – Brazil, Texas, Little Leaguers engage

June 6, 2008

Dear Friend:

This Gallup report caught our eye this week. Dateline, Princeton, NJ, June 2, 2008:

Large majorities of Democrats and independents, and even about half of Republicans, believe the president of the United States should meet with the leaders of countries that are considered enemies of the United States. Overall, 67% of Americans say this kind of diplomacy is a good idea.

The current administration begs to differ.

With U.S. unemployment soaring to 5.5%, with oil prices at $138 per barrel (and fears it could hit $150 by July 4th), what was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce doing in Europe? He was begging our EU allies to maintain diplomatic sanctions against Cuba.

That’s how far U.S. diplomacy has fallen. We won’t talk to our adversaries, and we lean on friendly governments to join us in this utterly counter-productive approach to the world.

Think about that, as you read the news summary this week – and our reports on Brazil intensifying trade with Cuba; Cuba extending its diplomatic approach to the Vatican; Texans making food deals in Havana; and Vermont preparing to send some young ambassadors to Cuba to practice “baseball diplomacy.”

Here in the U.S., there were also developments in the cases of the Cuban Five and Luis Posada Carilles that you won’t want to miss…this week in Cuba news.

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