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

President Obama Announces Major Shifts in U.S.-Cuba Policy

Press Release

Washington, D.C.—Today, President Obama announced a major shift in Cuba policy. The two countries have started a process of normalization of full diplomatic relations that would include the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a research and advocacy human rights organization, advocates for change through engagement with Cuba—including travel, citizen exchange, trade, and diplomatic cooperation. 

Our experts have been traveling to Cuba since the 1990s. WOLA expert Geoff Thale is currently in Cuba and he is available for comment. WOLA Senior Associate on Cuba, Marc Hanson, is in D.C. and is 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," says Hanson. "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, more than anything, has hurt the Cuban people. 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 timing for this historic change is perfect. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans and Cuban-Americans in Florida support improving relations."

For more information, please read 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:

Kristel Mucino
Communications Director, WOLA
Tel: 202-797-2171
Cel: 617-584-1713