Dear Cuba Policy Advocates:
Now that a new President and a new Congress have been elected, you can take action that will help change U.S. policy toward Cuba.
Do you want to call on the President-elect to support an end to the entire travel ban on Cuba? Then we solicit your help to send a flurry of messages to the presidential transition team.
Did you elect a new member of Congress in your district? Or do you have friends or colleagues who did? Then we need you!
Will you sign a petition to new President-elect on broader policy toward Latin America, including Cuba? See it here
The actions we are suggesting won't take more than a few moments, and the time to act is NOW. We all know that the new administration and the 111th Congress need our support, our encouragement, and yes, our pressure, to take the next steps to change our policy toward Cuba. You, their constituents, need to urge them to carry through on their campaign messages of change. And you need to do it now, as they are beginning to think about their priorities in office. Here's what you can do:
- 1) It is important that President-elect Obama and his transition team not lock themselves into a small position on U.S. policy toward Cuba. Ending the travel restrictions for Cuban-American families is a good thing, but IT IS NOT ENOUGH. All Americans (academics, students, church people, the cultural community, sports teams, families, environmental scientists, activists, anyone who wants to learn more about Cuba, ALL AMERICANS) should have their fundamental right of travel restored. There are some things that the new President himself can do with regulations and licenses; but our message must be very clear that if a small change is all that happens, and if it precludes the end to the full travel ban, we will not be satisfied. We want the President to move toward real change, and not adopt a Bush-lite policy.
Please go to http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory and write this message (make it your own!) to your new president: "Mr. President-elect, please support ending travel restrictions to Cuba for all Americans, and encourage Congress to take definitive action toward that end. In the meantime, do whatever you can by executive action to remove travel restrictions on sectors such as religious, academic, cultural, as well as your promised action to end family travel restrictions. All Americans have the fundamental right of travel."
- 2) If a new member of Congress was elected in your district (or if you don't know), please click here to see a list of new members (House and Senate) and their contact information (this is the best information available currently; campaign offices are in transition to district and DC offices, so we will keep updating this list). One quick phone call to their district office (the MOST EFFECTIVE WAY to get their attention), or one well-stated, to-the-point email will add up, with many others, to the change we need.
Here's the message:
Phone call: Ask for the foreign policy aide. Some new offices won't yet have filled this position. If no one has yet been named, ask to leave a message for your representative with the person who answered the phone. Message: "My name is [your name]; I am a constituent of Representative [your new member's name]; I voted for her/him (if you did) in the November elections; I live in [your city/town]. Please tell my representative to keep an open mind on U.S. policy toward Cuba. I support an end to the full travel ban for ALL Americans, and I hope Representative [your new member's name] will, too. I'll call back in a few weeks to learn what position my representative has taken." We'll remind you to call back!
Email: Dear Congressman/woman [your new member's name]:
Identify yourself, as above. Put this message in your own words: "I'm writing to you about U.S. policy toward Cuba. I support an end to the full travel ban for ALL Americans, and I hope you will, too. It is up to the Congress to end the ban on travel to Cuba; the President has only limited powers to change regulations. It would be great if President Obama would do all in his power to make it possible for more Americans to travel to Cuba, but the job of actually changing the policy is yours. Please don't commit yourself to interests groups who oppose engagement and travel; the American people, including your constituents, by 68 percent (see recent poll at http://thedialogue.org/page.cfm?pageID=403), support an end to restrictions on travel to Cuba. The majority of the Cuban-American community, by 55.2 percent (see Florida International University poll at www.fiu.edu/~ipor/cuba8/ExecutiveSummary.htm), also support unrestricted travel for all Americans, not just for families. New legislation to end the travel ban will be introduced in both the House and Senate early in 2009. We are counting on you to do the right thing and end this unjust and inhumane restriction on travel to Cuba." Then add something short and to-the-point about your experience with Cuba. Remember that you yourself are unlikely to read all the way through long and wordy email messages! Don't forget to sign your name and address.
As the new administration is formed, and when the new Congress is seated, we will come back to you with more specific actions, "Talking Points," requests that you meet with your new members and old members who need convincing. But for right now, the important thing is that you contact new members of Congress, tell them your position on opening unrestricted travel to Cuba for all Americans, and ask that they support your position or at least keep an open mind on Cuba policy.
There will be legislation introduced early in 2009 to end the travel ban; we must prepare Congress to pass this legislation.
- 3) Sign a petition to the next President on U.S. policy toward Latin America, including Cuba, now! Let's en masse encourage President Obama to build a just policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean that unites us with our neighbors. Click here to read and sign the petition. We will deliver this petition to President Obama on January 21, 2009. Our goal is to reach 10,000 signers.
- 4) The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and LAWG are very pleased to report that we have added a Cuba Policy Outreach Coordinator, Angelica Salazar, [email protected], to our team. Working with us and our colleague organizations here in Washington, her job will be to do outreach and education, and to follow up on this message and others like it, with calls, emails, and contacts with people around the country interested in changing our Cuba policy. We are delighted to have her working with us, and we are looking forward to her conversations, work, and support with all of you.
Thanks, and please know how important your voice is at this very critical time.
Mavis Anderson and Paulo Gusmao, Latin America Working Group, www.lawg.org
Geoff Thale and Lilia Lopez, Washington Office on Latin America, www.wola.org
Angelica Salazar, Cuba Policy Outreach Coordinator, WOLA