For a new Cuba policy – who’s standing in your way and who’s fighting for you?

July 22, 2010

Dear friend,

We just returned from Cuba.

This trip offered us a forceful reminder of how important our Cuba work is, and why we need to stand up against the powerful forces here in the U.S. who are blocking the changes we seek.

We arrived in Havana with a delegation of Congressional staff and energy experts at a remarkable moment.

Just hours after Cuba’s Catholic Church and the Cuban government reached an agreement to start releasing 52 political prisoners.

Just after news broke that a drilling rig built by China would be heading to Cuba so that Spain’s oil company, Repsol, could begin exploring for oil in the first months of 2011in an already fragile Gulf of Mexico.

Throughout our stay, we saw tourists from Canada, Western Europe, South America, and South Florida – talking to average Cubans, experiencing Cuban culture, and enjoying the freedom to visit the island.

All of this raises one critical question:  Why can’t we?

Why can’t the United States end its isolation from Cuba and talk openly and respectfully about all the problems that concern both nations?

Why can’t U.S. energy firms join our allies and competitors so that we can help Cuba find energy and protect the environment at the same time?

Why can’t every American visit Cuba legally – just as Cuban Americans can do today – as tourists, as ambassadors for American culture and ideas, or as friends willing and eager to learn from Cubans from every walk of life? Why doesn’t our government trust us enough to do that?

Today, we can’t do these things.   And you know why:

We have too many politicians possessed by a Cold War mentality when it comes to Cuba.

We have a distracted, short attention span system of governance that is better able to address short-term crises than protect our long-term interests.

And we have opponents, with a multi-million dollar political operation and belligerent commitment to keeping the embargo and every other anti-Cuba policy in place, no matter the cost to America’s interests or ideals.

That’s what we’re up against.  And that’s why we need your support.

We believe, like you do, that changing our relationship with Cuba really matters, and that’s why we at CDA work for that change every day.

We lead fact-finding delegations for policy makers to Cuba so they can directly experience the realities of Cuban life and the failures of U.S. policy.

We publish the Cuba Central weekly news summary about developments in Cuba and the U.S.  with information and analysis that can’t be found anywhere else.

We write columns, talk to the government and to the press, distribute pictures, and work in every conceivable way to move the debate on Cuba in the right direction – away from isolation to engagement, away from treating Cubans like enemies toward respecting them as neighbors and friends.

We know you know this is good and important work.  And we cannot do it alone.  We need you and we need your support today.

CDA is a small but effective organization, fighting for what we know is right, against powerful forces of history and an empowered opposition that has blocked progress on this issue for fifty years and which won’t allow change without a fight.

With your help, we will take down the barriers that have existed for more than 50 years so that the question – why can’t we? – becomes a relic of our past, and cooperation, commerce, and friendship can be the hallmarks of the U.S.-Cuban future.

Please support the CDA.

Sincerely,

Sarah Stephens

Executive Director
The Center for Democracy in the Americas

P.S.  You’ll find above links to pictures from our recent trip and a column about the prisoner release – examples of our work.  You’ll also find a video featuring a Cuban violinist, recorded on our recent trip, linked above and included below for your viewing pleasure.

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