Today, Washington’s pro-embargo lobby – or what’s left of them – did what they do best. They threw together some information, took it out of context, and got some Members of Congress to sign on to a letter to bully President Obama into not acting any further on Cuba policy.
But what they do best just isn’t what it used to be.
Today’s letter was signed by only 17 Congressmen and women, a paltry 4% of the U.S. House of Representatives. After weeks of circulating a letter throughout Capitol Hill, that’s all they could muster, and 14 of those 17 are Members of Congress who have received a combined $200,000 from the hardliners’ political action committee (with DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz leading the pack with a $42,000 haul).
It’s telling that hardliners were only able to mobilize 17 Members of Congress. The vast majority of them clearly don’t believe in our Cuba policy anymore, just like the majority of Americans, Floridians, and even Cuban Americans who now favor a new approach.
Huge numbers of Cuban Americans of all ages, in MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, agree the embargo simply hasn’t worked. But don’t take our word for it, look at the trends in recent surveys including a series of polls conducted since 1991 by Florida International University and a bipartisan poll conducted by the Atlantic Council in February, among others.
The letter is also surprisingly tone deaf. Granted, hardliners have been hard at work all summer trying to round up these signatures and could not have expected what would happen by now, but their timing is horrible. They’ve released this letter in the same week that news hit about jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross’ deteriorating physical and emotional health, and just a day after AP’s investigative report showed the ineffectiveness of a U.S. government-funded scheme to risk Latin American youth as recruiters for dissent on the island, using an HIV prevention program as cover. To not acknowledge this news, and to pretend that the status quo is somehow the only option the President has to support the Cuban people, is simply out of touch with reality.
In fact, the letter completely ignores that the changes to travel and remittance policy the President made in 2009 and 2011 have helped make a bigger difference in Cuba than the embargo has since 1962. Those changes are the best examples of what a “commitment to the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom” should look like. They’re the reason 46 major figures from both parties, multiple administrations, and Cuban-Americans recently sent the President a real and well-researched letter that showed what he actually can do to empower the Cuban people. (You can read that letter HERE).
It’s time to try something that works, and 4% just doesn’t cut it.
Ric Herrero, #CubaNow
Aug 5, 2014