Latino Leaders Support President Obama’s Cuba Actions, Call for Congressional Support to End Embargo Immediately EEUU y CubaDecember 17th, 2014
William C. Velásquez Institute
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact
Antonio Gonzalez, WCVI, 323-868-2049
Robert Garcia, The City Project, 213-260-1035
Latino Leaders Support President Obama’s Cuba Actions
Call for Congressional Support to End Embargo Immediately
(Los Angeles, CA Dec. 17, 2014) US Latino leaders cheered President Obama’s announcement today of historic steps opening relations with Cuba. This announcement followed a surprise prisoner swap earlier in the day of Alan Gross, a US AID Contractor jailed in Cuba and an unnamed “CIA asset” in prison in Cuba in exchange for three Cuban intelligence agents imprisoned in the US since the 1990′s.
“I commend President Obama for announcing important steps among them opening travel and exchanging ambassadors that taken together comprise gigantic progress in ending the 54 year old unjust US blockade of Cuba. The developments represent the victory of common sense over dogmatism and Mr. Obama has just cemented an important legacy of his presidency,” said Antonio Gonzalez, President of the William C. Velasquez Institute.
“The decision by Presidents Obama and Castro, from the U.S. and Cuba respectively, to announce the beginning of normalization of relations between their two countries represent a major breakthrough in U.S.-Latin American relations,” stated Oscar Chacon, executive director of the Chicago-based National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC).
“We commend President Obama’s decision as it marks a long overdue departure from nearly 50 years of a failed U.S. policy towards Cuba,” added Mr. Chacon.
“We call of the U.S. Congress to abolish the Helms-Burton Act and to put U.S.-Cuba relations on a path towards mutual respect and cooperation,” concluded Mr. Chacon.
The President, early in his first term, relaxed some restrictions on US travel to Cuba. Over the years US and Cuban American opinion has markedly changed to overwhelmingly favor normalization of relations between the two countries.
“The Cuban people are not our enemies. We support President Obama and the US in the work with Pope Francis and Cuba to restore full diplomatic relations. The embargo of Cuba by the US has not worked, and has instead isolated the US in the world on this issue. I have visited Cuba three times. I am an immigrant. Soy Guatemalteco. Todos somos Americanos!” Robert García, The City Project, Los Angeles, CA.
US Latino opinion is consistent with general public opinion strongly in favor of restoring relations with Cuba.
“Mr. Obama should also use this moment to complete the New Chapter in relations with the Americas by reestablishing ambassadors with Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia and reject sanctions on Venezuela. Sanctions did not work on Cuba, and they will not work when applied to Venezuela,” said Dr. Miguel Tinker Salas, Chairperson of Chicana/o Latino/a Studies at the Claremont Colleges in California.
Mr. Obama’s announcement includes significantly opening US citizen travel, remittances, and trade to Cuba, exchanging ambassadors, starting the legal process to take Cuba off the US terrorist country list and calling for Congress to repeal laws comprising the embargo. Click here for the White House Fact Sheet on Charting a New Course on Cuba.
“The normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba puts an end to half a century of aggression against the proud people of Cuba that withstood constant economic blockade, invasions, and attempts against the lives of Cubans,” said Salvador Reza, Chairman of Barrio Defense Committees, Phoenix, Arizona.
In response to Obama’s initiative Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to immediately release 53 Cuban political prisoners.
“People to people relations are the most important dynamic that shapes the history of peoples, countries, and nations. The people of Cuba and the United States deserve to enjoy such contact and relations. It appears that President Barack Obama and his administration understand that it is now time to assign government impediments to such relations into the dustbin of history and start a new course of openness. It’s time has come,” declared Taina Vega of Hermandad Mexicana.
“Today is a historic day for the Cuban-American community and represents an important shift toward normalizing relations with Cuba. We are hopeful that Congress will soon end the five decade long embargo that has torn Cuban families apart. As a Cuban American, I stand by President Obama’s decision to normalize relations and urge Congress to end the embargo once and for all,” said Mariana Ruiz, Managing Director of Presente.org.
“With this decision to open travel and exchange ambassadors, President Obama has taken historic steps that we support as part of a larger effort to end a U. S. blockade policy that other countries all over the world have categorized as archaic and outside the bounds of progressive international relations,” remarked Dr. Jose Zapata Calderon, Chairperson of the Latino and Latina Roundtable of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys of California.
The Cuban 3 (once called the Cuban 5 -two prisoners served their sentences and are back in Cuba) consists of three Cuban agents who turned themselves into the FBI in the late 1990′s with information on a terrorist conspiracy emanating from south Florida against Cuba. They were tried and convicted in US court. The remaining three prisoners were released and flown to Cuba today as part of the deal.
For more information on the Cuban Five click here.
WCVI through its Interhemispheric Initiatives Program has conducted educational programming about US-Cuba relations and advocated for full normalization of US Cuba relations since 1996. For more information see www.wcvi.org.
The City Project’s Robert García, Founding Director and Counsel, has advocated for restoring relations with Cuba for over 40 years. He drafted the remarks on the Cuban people are not our enemies as an intern for Congressman Michael Harrington (D-MA) in 1974. The remarks in support of legislation to repeal restraints on relations with Cuba are published in the Congressional Record, 120 Cong. Rec. H25577-78 (1974). He has traveled to Cuba with WCVI in January 2000, with People to People in November 2000, and with the American Public Health Association in November 2010.