Cuban-Americans have diverse opinions, not all support the trade embargo and some want normalization of relations with Cuba, according to a new petition aimed at America's political leaders.It asks Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to abandon the "Cold War rhetoric" and urges the United States to remove Cuba from its list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism.
The full text of the petition - sponsored by CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and FORNORM (Foundation for the Normalization of relations with Cuba) - is below:
To the Republican and Democratic National Committees:
In light of both the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions we, as Cuban Americans and American citizens, urge both parties to not fall into the trap of viewing our community as a monolithic voting bloc that is in favor of the United States' embargo on Cuba. During these conventions the platforms for each party will be decided upon and put into action. For the past fifty years, a strategy of blind support for the embargo has become the norm for political candidates from both parties in order to garner the support of Cuban Americans.
We would implore all candidates to not look upon our demographics as one that unanimously supports this failed policy of hostility. Rather, we are a diverse body of voices with a majority that favors a policy of engagement, and ultimately, normalization of relations between the two nations.
Numerous polls of the Cuban American community in southern Florida and throughout the nation demonstrate that a majority of these citizens favor the policies that the Obama administration put in place in 2009 and then expanded in 2011. These moves have eased the process of reunification of Cuban families by allowing Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba more frequently and send more remittances to loved ones on the island. Overwhelmingly, Cuban Americans have voted with their feet and pocketbooks by traveling to Cuba, sending money, and acting as ambassadors for our great nation. As Cuban Americans we feel that we are not any better than any other American citizen and would hope that the U.S. government takes steps to eliminate the travel ban placed on all American citizens.
We ask Mitt Romney, the presumptive candidate, and the Republican Party to abandon the cold war rhetoric. Easing the embargo is not an act of "appeasement". It is our hope that Paul Ryan will remain consistent to his well-documented stance against the embargo. We urge all candidates to consider the vast support among congressional Republicans who represent the Midwest and many other districts across the country to end the embargo in order to open up a potentially dynamic market for agricultural and other manufactured goods made in the USA.
True conservatives cannot defend our policy towards Cuba. The travel restrictions violate American citizens' individual right to travel. Also, our government's stance towards Cuba is an absolute contradiction to free market capitalism. Furthermore, it is our hope that the GOP will understand the historic ties that Tampa, the host city of their national convention, has with Cuba. The majority of the Cuban American community there favors normalization of relations with Cuba. We reject any attribution of Cuban American congressional members of the Republican Party from southern Florida such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, David Rivera, and Mario Diaz-Balart to speak on behalf of Cuban Americans as a whole within the state, let alone throughout the nation.
The inclusion of Cuba on the list of State sponsors of Terror is counterproductive. This designation undermines American national security because it eliminates the possibility of working in concert with Cuban leaders on important matters of regional security. Our policy towards Cuba is also looked upon with derision by most of our allies in Latin America and this also compromises our position of influence in the hemisphere.
Finally, the embargo effectively denies the very real potential of sustained gains in various sectors of the economy that would result from the opening of a very close market that yearns for American goods and services.
President Obama and his administration are well aware of these circumstances and have encountered opposition from our partners in the western hemisphere regarding such policies.
We welcome a proactive response to deal with these challenges. Regardless of the outcome of the elections in November we would hope that liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party continue to work to bring about a relationship that is more beneficial for both the Cuban people and the American populace.
In closing, we reiterate to all political candidates of both Republican and Democratic parties that Cuban Americans represent a plurality of views pertaining to U.S.-Cuba relations. Any posture by any politician that insinuates that we are all in favor of the embargo is misleading. It is our desire that the members of the American political class resist the urge to repeat the same tired lines about Cuba and the embargo from past campaigns. Such an attempt to pander to a community whose grasp of the issue of U.S.-Cuba relations is quite sophisticated and nuanced could cause negative results at the ballot box.
Members of the Board of Directors of CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and from the Executive Committee of FORNORM
Dr. Maria Isabel Alfonso, New York, NY. CAFE
Dr. Romy Aranguiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE
Dr. Eduardo Araujo, Boulder, CO. CAFE
Alejandro Barreras, Miami, FLA. CAFE
Isidro Borja, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM
Ernesto Cabo, Alexandria, VA. CAFE
Amaury Cruz, Miami, FLA. Vice President of FORNORM
Elena Freyre, Miami, FLA. President of FORNORM
Arturo Lopez-Levy, Denver, CO. CAFE
Andres Ruiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE
Dr. Julio Ruiz, Miami, FLA. Secretary of FORNORM
Benjamin Willis, New York, NY. CAFE
Antonio Zamora, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM