Dear President Obama,
It is our understanding that your visit to Cuba in Match will likely include a stop in Santa Clara. Our organization CUBAmistad has maintained friendly relations with Santa Clara since we established a sister city relationship in the late 90’s. We have received OFAC license for a number of delegations, most recently in Dec of 2014.
We were overjoyed to be able to share firsthand with our compatriots there the news of the release of prisoners in each country and the resumption of diplomatic relations.
We appreciate what you have done to get us headed down the long, bumpy road to normalization. It is most certainly a two way street where the U.S. and its citizens stand to gain much from Cuba’s proficiency in health care. The opportunity to readily share in their vibrant culture, most notably in the arena of art and music will pave the way for long anticipated exchanges. We were fortunate to host a Cuban artist who gifted our city with a wonderful mural on the Bloomington IN Convention and Visitors Center.
While you are pushing hard for business associations and increased Internet access please keep in mind that there are several detrimental US policy stances that remain untouched, most significantly the CUBAN Adjustment Act which only encourages what would otherwise be illegal migration. Also, the so-called CUBAN Médical Professionals Parole. (CMPP) which lures Cuban doctors away from their constituency much to the detriment of their humanitarian outreach. They are often the first group, through the HENRY Reeves Brigade ( nominated last year for a Nobel award) to address emergency situations, most notably following the earthquake in Haiti, through the ebola crisis and more recently in Nepal. (The Brigades offer of assistance to the US following hurricane Katrina was turned down by then President Bush.)
We do appreciate that we no longer have to go through the arduous OFAC application process for a license to visit our sister city. This will simplify our putting into effect an exchange of artwork and simple narratives between elementary school students in our respective cities.
Here’s wishing you an enjoyable, meaningful and productive visit.
The White House, Washington
Thank you for writing. The best way to advance our Nation’s interests and values is through open engagement rather than isolation. That is why after more than half a century, the United States is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba and working toward normalizing relations between our two countries.
After decades of isolation failed to produce meaningful change, I traveled to Cuba to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas and to extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. By charting a new course, my Administration is reaffirming our commitment to promoting the emergence of a more prosperous Cuba that respects the universal rights of all its citizens. To achieve this, the United States is taking steps to increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba. We also reestablished diplomatic relations with the Cuban Government—including opening an Embassy in Havana—and I’ve called on Congress to do their part and lift the embargo that is a legacy of a failed policy. Nobody represents America’s values better than the American people, and I believe this contact will ultimately serve to empower our Cuban neighbors.
Again, thank you for writing. We must create more opportunities and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas. By choosing to cut loose the shackles of the past, we can reach for a brighter future—for the Cuban people, for the American people, and for the world our children will inherit. To learn more, visit http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/Cuba.