Will President Obama Firm Up His Commitment to Engage with Cuba?

U.S. policy towards Cuba has its place in the hot seat again. If you recall last April, USAID, (United States Agency for International Development) was confronted about an allegedly covert program to develop a Cuban version of Twitter, named “ZunZuneo,” in hopes of inciting protests and demonstrations in Cuba.

While we thought this program was bad enough, it gets worse. On Monday, Associated Press reported that a USAID program in Cuba secretly used an HIV-prevention workshop for political activism on the island. “Beginning in late 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development deployed nearly a dozen young people from Latin America to Cuba to recruit political activists, an Associated Press investigation found. The operation put the foreigners in danger not long after a U.S. contractor [Alan Gross] was hauled away to a Cuban jail.”

The Obama Administration confirmed that a HIV-prevention workshop was indeed going on for Cuban democracy-promotion efforts, but denied that the project was intended to incite any type of political uprising. According to the State Department’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, the program “enabled support for Cuban civil society, while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention.”

However, through documents and interviews acquired by AP, it is clear “that the program was aimed at recruiting a younger generation of opponents to Cuba’s Castro government… Documents prepared for the USAID-sponsored program called the HIV workshop the ‘perfect excuse’ to conduct political activity.”

As the Congressional recess nears this Friday, seventeen members of Congress found the time to send President Obama a letter urging him to reaffirm his commitment to U.S policy towards Cuba that would continue to support these wasteful USAID programs, and the anachronistic embargo, which directly affects the daily life of the Cuban population and not the Cuban government.

See if YOUR member signed on by viewing the list below.If your representative is on the list below let him/her know today that you are disappointed in his/her support for a failed policy towards Cuba!

The closing sentence of the letter takes the cake, equating support for the embargo as demonstrating support for the Cuban people, which over the 52 years of the embargo has proven to be further from the truth. “We hope that you will affirm to us, in no uncertain terms, that you remain committed to longstanding U.S. policy which supports the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom while denying the pretense of legitimacy, and access to dollars, to their oppressors.”

It is a shame that any member of Congress would show support for a letter that aims to promote such a destructive policy, one that the United Nations General Assembly continues to condemn as inhumane year after year.

Let your member know today that you do not support the U.S. embargo towards Cuba and he/she shouldn’t either!


Signatories to the “Bipartisan Letter to Obama”

Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8th District)

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25th District)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23rd District)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27th District)

Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL-26th District)

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5th District)

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL-21st District)

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6th District)

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11th District)

Rep. William Keating (D-MA-9th District)

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18th District)

Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL-22nd District)

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-9th District)

Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12th District)

Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL-19th District)

Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL-11th District)

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12th District)

Latin America Working Group, Cuba Team
August 6, 2014

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