Friday, January 25, 2008

Clinton and Obama answers to CANF

The anti-normalization Cuban American National Foundation obtained interesting answers from most candidates about their position on Cuba policy. The Clinton and Obama responses are compared below. Where they differ is indicated by boldface. Edwards and Paul declined to respond. Responses of all candidates can be found here at CANF website.

1. Do you support sending direct U.S. government aid to Cuban dissidents?

Yes__HC BO_ No______

2. Do you support the ability to send direct private aid to Cuban dissidents?

Yes___HC BO__ No______

3. Do you support Radio and Television Martí as a vehicle for providing objective news and information to Cuba?

Yes__HC_ No______

BO Comment on No. 3: I support Radio Martí but have voted against Television Martí. The U.S. government funded Television Martí tries to broadcast TV news and cultural programs to Cuba, but it is unfortunately jammed by the Cuban government and does not provide objectives news and information to Cuba.

4. Do you support restrictions on American tourist travel to Cuba?

Yes___HC BO__ No______

5. Do you support restrictions on Cuban-American family, humanitarian related travel to Cuba?

Yes_____ No___HC BO___

HC Please also see statement.

6. Do you believe that the United States should negotiate with Raul Castro once it is announced that Fidel Castro has died?

Yes__BO___ No__HC__

BO Comments on No. 6: A crucial component of the Obama plan to promote freedom and democratic change in Cuba will be aggressive and principled bilateral diplomacy. I will send an important message: if a post-Fidel government begins opening Cuba to democratic change, the United States is prepared to take steps to normalize relations and ease the embargo that has governed relations between our countries for the last five decades. That would be the best means of promoting Cuban freedom.

7. Should the United States require a new Cuban government to make concessions such as freeing political prisoners or allowing a free press before the United States moves to negotiate with them?

Yes__HC__ No__BO____

8. Do you support maintaining current restrictions on trade with Cuba until there is a transition to democracy?

Yes__HC BO __ No______

9. Do you believe the wet-foot/dry-foot policy should be reverted back to the original policy of accepting Cuban refugees into the United States for processing regardless of whether they reach dry land or are intercepted at sea?

Yes_____ No__HC BO___

10. Should United States policy provide for increased assistance for independent Cuban civil society, i.e. independent entrepreneurs, medical clinics, libraries, etc.?

Yes__HC BO__ No______

11. Do you believe in supporting the growth of independent micro-enterprises in Cuba with the goal of helping promote independent Cuban civil society?

Yes__HC BO__ No______

12. Do you believe the United States should negotiate direct mail service to Cuba?

Yes__HC BO__ No______

13. Do you believe U.S. policy should allow for the upgrade of telecommunications equipment in order to facilitate communication between the people of Cuba and their relatives abroad?

Yes__HC BO__ No______

14. Which statement most closely reflects your views on current U.S.-Cuba policy? (you may choose more than one)

I believe current policy is effective and does not need any change___

I believe current policy is effective but is missing a proactive element in support of Cuba’s dissidents___

I believe U.S. policy is not restrictive enough and should be toughened___

I believe U.S. policy is too restrictive and some elements of it should be relaxed___

I believe U.S. policy towards Cuba is a failure and should be completely revised___

HC Please see statement
BO Commentary on No. 14: I believe U.S. policy has failed. That’s why I have called for a new policy that would permit unlimited family travel and cash remittances, but maintain the embargo as an inducement for democratic change on the Island.

15. Do you believe it is important to establish an International Democracy Fund for Cuba through an international or regional body like the U.N. or the O.A.S. in order to provide incentives for democratic change?

Yes__HC BO___ No________

16. Please summarize (1-2 paragraphs) your vision for a U.S.-Cuba policy under your Administration.

HC Democracy, human rights, and the fundamental freedoms all nations of the hemisphere, including the United States, have struggled to protect, will form the foundation of my policy toward Cuba when I am President of the United States.

Over the last quarter century we have seen an unprecedented movement toward democracy and respect for fundamental rights across the world. Cuba, unfortunately, has remained under one-party rule, under a regime and a leadership that is responsible for terrible human rights abuses and political oppression that has held back 11 million talented and hardworking citizens of the Americas. The Cuban people deserve better.

I believe that this is not the time or place to consider wholesale or broad changes to our Cuba policy, including the embargo. The American people must let the Cuban people know that we are on their side in their struggle for freedom and democracy. We can do this by supporting brave voices for freedom like Oswaldo Paya and the Damas de Blanco. The Castro dictatorship has divided Cuban families for nearly half a century. I have voted to support flexibility to allow visits for immediate family members in humanitarian cases. Such ties give hope to the Cuban people and to their families in the diaspora. And they send a message that the American people recognize that the Cuban people, not their repressive government, represent the promise and possibility for a democratic future.

Likewise, supporting other humanitarian measures that will help bring direct material and moral support to Cuban civil society will help the Cuban people gain the confidence and independence to imagine a society free of repression, one in which freedom and social justice, two core values of the Cuban nation for centuries, can exist side by side.

During my presidency, I hope there may be an opportunity to undertake a review of our policy toward Cuba, because there may be changes and fundamental reforms that merit a new approach. Now, however, is not a time for unilateral steps such as lifting the embargo. We must retain a policy of support for the Cuban people, without strengthening the Cuban regime.

BO After nearly 50 years of failure, we must turn the page and begin to write a new chapter in U.S.-Cuba policy to help advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba. To write this new chapter, I will keep U.S. national interests, and not partisan or electoral interests, at the forefront. I will strive to empower the Cuban people and aim to position the United States to help foster a stable and peaceful transition in Cuba to avoid potential disasters that could result in mass migration, internal violence, or the perpetuation of the Cuban dictatorship. A democratic opening in Cuba is, and should be, the foremost objective of our policy. I believe we need a clear strategy to achieve this objective—one that takes some limited steps now to spread the message of freedom on the island, but preserves our ability to bargain on behalf of democracy with a post-Fidel government. The primary means we have of encouraging positive change in Cuba today is to help the Cuban people become less dependent on the Castro regime in fundamental ways.

My approach is built around empowering the Cuban people, who ultimately hold Cuba’s destiny in their hands. There are few better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban Americans. And the money they send to Cuba makes their families less dependent on the Castro regime. Cuban American connections to family in Cuba are not only a basic right in humanitarian terms, but also our best tool for helping to foster the beginnings of grassroots democracy on the island. As President, I will grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island. But as we reach out in some ways, it makes strategic sense to hold on to important inducements we can use in dealing with a post-Fidel government, for it is an unfortunate fact that his departure by no means guarantees the arrival of freedom on the island. I will also do what this President has not done, engage in aggressive and principled bilateral diplomacy.

Monday, January 21, 2008

McAuliff Letter to Sun Sentinel on Democrats' Positions

Summary of Democratic candidates' stands on Cuba misses the main point of conflict
January 18, 2008,0,3444871.story

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's summary of Democratic candidates' positions on Cuba is inaccurate and misses the main point of conflict between them.

Barack Obama has called for unrestricted travel and remittances by Cuban-Americans.

John Edwards has agreed with unrestricted travel.

Hillary Clinton supports the harsh once-every-three-years restrictions on family travel imposed by President Bush rather than the annual plus emergency travel permitted by her husband.

None of them has spoken about the non-tourist purposeful travel authorized by President Bill Clinton but largely eliminated in 2004.

When economic and social reforms are being discussed in Cuba, it is a grave error that the United States has eliminated or drastically reduced people-to-people exchanges by world affairs councils, students, professionals, alumni, museums, religious and humanitarian groups, sports teams, etc.

Such visits do not bring the economic benefit to Cuba of large scale tourism but do help diverse American opinion leaders understand better what is really taking place. They also create a more positive atmosphere between our countries, which encourages the process of reform.

John McAuliff

Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Endorsements of candidates by Cuba activists

Please send notice of additional endorsements to


pro normalization or travel

Rep. Bill Delahunt

Rep. Barbara Lee

(organizations listed for identification purposes only)

John McAuliff, Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Developement

Carlos Lazo, US Army reservist and Iraq veteran, blocked from traveling to Cuba to see his sons

Steve Clemons, Washington Note, New America Foundation

Tom Miller, General Counsel, Global Exchange

Ben Treuhaft, Send A Piana To Havana


pro normalization or travel

Rep. Charles Rangel

Rep. Jim McGovern

Rep. Lynn Woolsey

anti normalization

Sen Robert Menendez

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Mc Cain

pro travel

Rep. Jeff Flake

anti normalization

Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Ballart

Rep. Mario Diaz-Ballart

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Sen. Mel Martinez


anti normalization

Marco Rubio, Florida's Cuban American state House speaker