WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
17 Dec 2014 | News

Obama’s Historic Announcement on Cuba: WOLA Resources and Analysis

Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Today, President Obama announced a major shift in Cuba policy. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) currently has a team of experts on the ground in Cuba. Geoff Thale, WOLA’s Program Director, who is currently in Havana, said the following. Please feel free to use any parts of his quote in your reporting.

"This is a historic change in our policy toward Cuba that has enormous ramifications for our relationship with not only Cuba, but also the rest of Latin America. It truly is the biggest change in our policy in the last 50 years, and President Obama has shown real leadership in moving our relations into the 21st century. In Havana, people listened raptly to Raul's speech on the streets and gathered in hotel lobbies to watch Obama’s speech on TV. They all burst into spontaneous applause at its conclusion. We were in an official meeting with government officials when the news broke. People burst into tears and there were hugs all around."

WOLA would also like to make available to you the following statement by WOLA's Senior Associate on Cuba, Marc Hanson, who is in D.C. and available for interviews:

"Alan Gross will return home and spend the last days of Hanukkah with his family because of the persistence of many people who worked tirelessly to encourage both the U.S. and the Cubans to carry out a humanitarian exchange. President Obama's courageous actions have returned Alan to his family. This humanitarian exchange with Cuba is consistent with a whole host of signals from both countries that we are witnessing a historic shift in U.S.-Cuba policy. The normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations will have significant and positive implications for both the American and Cuban people. The President has the authority to conduct foreign policy in a manner consistent with our national interests. It is clearly in U.S. national interest to strip away as much of the longstanding embargo on Cuba as possible. Our Cuba policy is tremendously costly for Americans and it has done nothing to improve human rights or democracy in Cuba. The embargo has hurt the Cuban people without leading to improvements in human rights. President Obama's comments will transform the frozen conflict between Cuba and the U.S. into a relationship that will greatly benefit people in both countries. The President has done his part, it is now up to Congress to end the embargo. The timing for this historic change is perfect. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans and Cuban-Americans in Florida support improving relations."

WOLA would also like to make available for your reporting the following analyses from WOLA's Cuba team on the issues of Alan Gross and the prisoner swap, as well as the growing public support for the normalization of relations between the two countries:

To interview Marc Hanson or our experts who are currently in Cuba, please contact Kristel Mucino at kmucino@wola.org. She can also be reached at 202-797-2171 or at 617-584-1713.


Kristel Mucino
Director of Communications
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Tel: 202-797-2171
Cell: 617-584-1713
Twitter: @kristel_mucino