It is not that the mainstream media have changed their hostile orientation, but the mere fact that some of them have allowed –albeit paid– a different kind of publicity than the one demanded by the US power elite since the triumph of the popular revolution in 1959, is an encouraging sign for US citizens and, of course, also for Cubans.
A new bipartisan coalition (Republican and Democrat) called “Engage Cuba”, constructed of entities interested in developing ties with Cuba, has emerged in line with the official announcements of the governments of Washington and Havana in December 2014. It has launched a campaign in major US media, criticizing the archaic bans denying US citizens their constitutional right to travel to and do business with Cuba.
The 30 second ad, produced by the advertising firm Shorr Magnus Johnson, began airing on Tuesday, June 16, on cable television services Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.
The text points out that Americans are free to travel anywhere in the world –with the exception of Cuba– and that an estimated 5.9 billion dollars in annual US exports from the United States are currently blocked by the outdated prohibition –more in keeping with the Cold War– which prevents trade with Cuba.
In the words of James Williams, president of the Engage Cuba coalition,“Public polls show that Americans are saying, ‘We are tired of the Cold War-era policy that won’t let us trade or travel to Cuba. We want our government to let us play a role in this significant period of transition.’ That’s why we’re launching Engage Cuba.”
Engage Cuba had a role in negotiating the landmark deal that has enabled the Cuban Interests Section and the future embassy of Cuba in Washington to receive indispensable banking services for the current process of normalization.
The coalition supports draft legislation known as Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (S. 299), submitted by Senators Jeff Flake and John Boozman (Arizona Republicans) and Patrick Leahy (a Vermont Democrat), which already has forty co-sponsors in the Senate.
Engage Cuba’s membership includes organizations and enterprises in all sectors and major business groups like the National Foreign Trade Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Council of the Americas, and the American Society of Travel Agents.
Also members of Engage Cuba are civil society organizations like Third Way, CubaNow, Cuba Study Group and the Center for Democracy in the Americas.
In addition, Engage Cuba is working directly with leading companies sharing the goal of removing the travel and trade ban on Cuba, such as Procter & Gamble, Cargill, Caterpillar, Choice Hotels, and the Havana Group, among others.
“There is a growing number of bipartisan agreements, more than in the previous 54 years of the policy of isolation, which has hurt our own businesses and farmers,” said Steven Law, who was head of the office of former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell/ A aside from being the chair of the American Crossroads, McConnell now serves as Senior Advisor to Engage Cuba. “The future of a commitment with Cuba has come, and it’s time for Congress to help manage the transition of that policy.”
“One of these days, our legislative branch of government is going to have to start functioning,” says Luke Albee, a senior adviser to Engage Cuba who served as chief of staff to U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Patrick Leahy. “There is no better way to help make this happen than to change our archaic Cuba policy. It is in our national interest. And it is fair for the United States and for the Cuban people.”
It is unquestionable that US citizens are among the most misled and misinformed in the world. Their right to know the truth has been systematically blocked and manipulated.
By Manuel E. Yepe, Manuel Yepe – Opinions from Cuba
June 22, 2015
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.