Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Jazz and Son Festival in Varadero August 22-25

If sufficient Americans wish to go under the Support for the Cuban People license, special meetings will take place with performers, the agency Paradiso, and the Artistic Director, Isaac Delgado, as well as with private businesses and other institutions in Varadero, Cardenas and Matanzas (including the slavery museum).  We can also assist with finding privately owned bed and breakfasts.

For more information write to director@ffrd.org

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Presidential Candidates on Cuba

What Kamala Harris thinks about Cuba On Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden announced Senator Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, will be his running mate, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Last year, Sen. Harris responded to a Tampa Bay Times survey asking questions about Florida-specific issues, including Cuba policy. Asked whether she would continue or end the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, Sen. Harris’ staff responded “Senator Harris believes we should end the failed trade embargo and take a smarter approach that empowers Cuban civil society and the Cuban-American community to spur progress and freely determine their own future.” Shortly after the official announcement, a group of Cuban-American Biden supporters, Cubanos con Biden, reacted positively to Sen. Harris’ nomination. They tweeted that reason number 84 out of 90 that Cubans should vote for Democrats in November is because Sen. Harris is the daughter of immigrants and she is an Afro-Caribbean and Asian-American woman who understands the challenges of the immigrant community in the U.S. Democrats in Florida, a critical swing state. Fernand Amandi, a Democratic strategist and pollster from Miami, stated “Kamala Harris has no baggage with Hispanic voters [in Florida].” Sen. Harris was a co-sponsor of the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act which would prohibit U.S. citizens from being restricted from traveling to Cuba in 2017 and most recently in 2019 .

-- Center for Democracy in the Americas, U.S, Cuba News Brief

National Association of Hispanic Journalists / National Association of Black Journalists

Lulu Garcia-Navarro: (32:41)

Are you going to reengage with Cuba though? I mean, I’m specifically wondering about the Florida communities that are incredibly interested in the Cuba issue and see status given to Venezuelans while Cubans are being deported. So will you engage with Cuba?

Joe Biden: (33:03)

The answer is yes. Yes. Yes.



Biden: The United States should not be in the business of regime change. Nicolás Maduro is a dictator, plain and simple, but the overriding goal in Venezuela must be to press for a democratic outcome through free and fair elections, and to help the Venezuelan people rebuild their country. The international community also has a responsibility to help Venezuela’s neighbors like Colombia to manage the grave humanitarian crisis created by the millions of Venezuelan migrants who’ve fled the country. As president, I would also grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans in the United States.


Biden: Americans – and especially Cuban-Americans – can be our best ambassadors for freedom in Cuba. Therefore, as president, I will promptly reverse the failed Trump policies that have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights.

Beautiful video of Jill Biden's visit to Camaguey
and Havana, produced by the White House   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hc6NiDbVepI



Bloomberg: Until Cuba improves its human-rights record and stops its destabilizing international behavior, U.S. sanctions should remain in place. But restrictions on U.S. citizens' travel to Cuba should be lifted and people-to-people exchanges encouraged. The best way to promote democracy is through openness, cultural exchange, and exposure to democratic values.
Warren: I’ll reverse Trump’s counterproductive policies, which harm the Cuban people more than its leaders. Instead we must create opportunities for Cubans to live better lives, lift restrictions on travel and remittances, and permit families to reunite. The best way to promote change is by empowering the Cuban people, not punishing them.


Bloomberg: Venezuela is a case study in how despotism can lead a country to ruin – and destabilize an entire region in the process. The U.S. must remain steadfast in supporting the restoration of Venezuela’s democracy and democratic institutions under interim president Juan Guaidó.
Warren: Maduro is a dictator whose regime has dismantled democratic institutions – but fomenting regime change doesn’t benefit the Venezuelan people. Instead, we should work with regional partners to address Venezuela’s humanitarian needs, provide TPS to Venezuelans in the U.S., and advance negotiations for free, fair elections as quickly as possible.

Responding to Trump Administration restrictions, all Democratic Candidates who are Senators are cosponsors of legislation to totally end limits on travel to Cuba, an important step further than President Obama could go

Washington Post summaries

Bennet “believes U.S. policy toward Cuba has not been successful, including the Trump administration’s approach, and we must update it,” a Bennet spokesperson told The Post. “We should be working to forge new relationships, strengthen financial ties, and build opportunity for the next generation of Cubans and Americans. Improving trade will allow U.S. businesses, farmers and ranchers to compete fairly in the Cuban markets and can increase opportunities for Cuban citizens to realize greater economic independence.” Bennet introduced the Agricultural Export Expansion Act of 2019 to allow agricultural trade with Cuba.
Michael Bennet
“I have no illusions about the situation in Cuba, and it’s deeply concerning that the Cuban government continues to assert strong political and economic control while failing to respect press freedom and the freedom of assembly,” Biden told The Post. “But Cuba is not represented solely by its leadership. There are many different sectors that we can and should work with to support progress in Cuba — including entrepreneurs, religious groups, universities, young people and human rights defenders.”
Joe Biden
“We need to end the embargo,” Bullock told The Post. “Our farmers, ranchers and other businesses are looking for new markets, and this is a good opportunity. I am not naive to Cuba’s actions in Venezuela, or its human rights abuses. But we cannot simply continue the failed policies of the past, which is what Trump is doing. He is failing to bring about change in Cuba and hurting America’s economy in the process.”
Steve Bullock
“Yes. Isolation hasn’t worked,” Buttigieg told The Post. “We need to engage with Cuba, supporting political and economic reform as well as working to stop Cuban interference in Venezuela and Nicaragua. U.S.-Cuba citizen engagement, expanded travel opportunities and the repeal of remittance restrictions enjoy broad support from our Latin American partners, from the U.S. public and business community, and from a majority of Cuban Americans.”
Pete Buttigieg
“Yes. We should also end sanctions,” Gabbard told The Post. “If we want to encourage positive change, we must engage with Havana and open communication and understanding between Cubans and Americans.”
 Jun. 4: “Basically Americans will no longer be free to travel to Cuba, because Cuba is a communist country & therefore its’ people are not free. So now the Trump Administration, in the name of freedom, is taking away Americans' freedom. Make sense?”
Tulsi Gabbard
“Fifty years of an embargo have not achieved America’s policy objectives in Cuba,” Klobuchar's First 100 Days plan said. She “believes that a better path forward would allow Americans the freedom to travel and conduct business there and that lifting the trade embargo will open a huge export market, create American jobs, and support both the Cuban and American economies. She will revive policies to expand the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba and facilitate U.S. exports to the island using credit to the maximum extent allowed by current law while respecting human rights and property claims against the Cuban government.”
 Jun. 5: “The Administration's latest travel restrictions for Cuba are yet another setback. I lead the bipartisan bill to lift the embargo. Isolating Cuba for more than 5 decades has not secured our interests. We need to move our relationship forward, not backward.”
Amy Klobuchar
O'Rourke is no longer running for president. O'Rourke would remove the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration, a campaign spokesperson told The Post.
Beto O'Rourke
Ryan is no longer running for president. “Yes. I would move to restore relations with Cuba to the state in which the Obama administration left them,” Ryan told The Post. “If we want Cuba to move to a democracy, we need to engage with them diplomatically, we cannot sanction them into submission.”
Tim Ryan
Sanders would remove the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration, he told The Post.
Bernie Sanders
“Yes. U.S. engagement is best for changing the country toward a path of democratic values,” Sestak told The Post.
Joe Sestak
Steyer would remove the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration, he told The Post.
Tom Steyer
“Yes. The broadening of relations during the Obama administration was a pragmatic step that recognized sanctions and isolation hadn’t achieved U.S. goals,” Warren told The Post. “President Trump’s restrictions harm the Cuban people, empower Cuba’s hardliners, and give the regime an excuse to further delay market and democratic reforms, and make it harder to enlist partners to address other regional challenges, including in Venezuela. Engagement does not mean we condone the Castro government’s approach — but we have over 60 years of failed experience with policies of isolation. The best way to promote change is to empower the Cuban people, not to punish them.”
Elizabeth Warren
Williamson would remove the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration, she told The Post.
Marianne Williamson
Yang would remove the restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba that were imposed by the Trump administration, he told The Post.
Andrew Yang
Unclear/No response
“We need a new path forward in our relations with Cuba. Only Congress can lift the trade embargo. To be sure, Cuba’s dismal record on human rights, including repression of dissent, arbitrary detention, harassment of critics and its support for Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime are issues that must be addressed as part of any future U.S.-Cuba relationship,” Booker told The Post.
Cory Booker
Castro did not answer this question by publication.
Julian Castro
de Blasio is no longer running for president. De Blasio did not answer this question by publication.
Bill de Blasio
de Blasio
Delaney did not answer this question by publication.
John Delaney
Harris did not answer this question by publication.
Kamala Harris
BACKGROUND The Obama administration began normalizing relations with Cuba in 2014, removing the country’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, restoring diplomatic relations, and easing restrictions on remittances, travel and trade. In 2017, the Trump administration announced an effort to roll back some of those moves. Those efforts were strengthened in 2019, in response to Cuban support for the Venezuelan regime of Nicholas Maduro, with new economic sanctions, limits on non-family travel to the island and the termination of cruise ship travel from the United States.

Amy Klobuchar

Modernizing our relationship with Cuba. Revamping our approach to North America also includes modernizing our relationship with Cuba. I strongly support lifting the embargo and travel ban on Cuba. Increasing travel and commerce between our two countries will create new economic opportunities for American farmers and businesses and help improve the quality of life for Cubans. Our policies toward Cuba should emphasize our economic interests in expanded commerce and travel and our political interest in cultivating new freedoms for the Cuban people. More than fifty years of the embargo have not secured these interests­it is time for us to try another approach. That is why I have introduced the bipartisan Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba, boosting job creation and exports. It does not repeal provisions of current law that address human rights in Cuba or that allow individuals and businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government.


Klobuchar Statement on Administration Actions to Restrict Educational and Cultural Travel to Cuba

June 5, 2019

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate group “people-to-people” educational travel to Cuba, including a ban to prohibit cruise ships from stopping there. Organized tour groups on cruise ships are the most common way U.S. citizens travel to the island.

“Fifty-five years of isolating Cuba has not advanced our interests and has disadvantaged American businesses and farmers. We need to be expanding engagement with Cuba and building on the progress we’ve made, not returning to the policies of the past. America is at its best when we are innovating, making things, and exporting to the world­we should be encouraging, not discouraging engagement with Cuba.”For years, Klobuchar has fought to open the door to business with Cuba. In February, Klobuchar reintroduced the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act with Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to lift the Cuba trade embargo. The bipartisan legislation would eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba and pave the way for new economic opportunities for American businesses and farmers by boosting U.S. exports and allow Cubans greater access to American goods. Klobuchar also supported an amendment in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow U.S. agricultural producers to use two U.S. export promotion programs for agricultural exports to Cuba.

Permalink: https://www.klobuchar.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/6/klobuchar-statement-on-administration-actions-to-restrict-educational-and-cultural-travel-to-cuba


Letter signed by three candidates

Dear Secretaries Mnuchin and Ross:
We write to express our strong opposition to the recent decisions by the Departments of the Treasury and Commerce to eliminate group “people-to-people” educational travel to Cuba and ban certain passenger and recreational transportation to the island.
The actions by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to further restrict travel to Cuba represent a significant step backwards in the U.S.-Cuba relationship. Fifty-five years of isolating Cuba has served only to disadvantage American and Cuban businesses, farmers, and citizens, while failing to achieve U.S. interests including democratic reforms and improvement in human rights.
Most Americans visiting Cuba do so on a cruise ship. By making passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft ineligible for licenses, the Administration is weakening our business relationships and undermining the ability of Americans to travel to Cuba, which will also hurt the Cuban people. Quite simply, the downsides of this decision far outweigh any potential benefits.
Unfortunately, the Administration’s policies have negatively impacted the numbers of Americans travelling to Cuba. After the number of Americans visiting Cuba increased nearly 600 percent between 2014 and 2017, travel has stagnated under the current administration and only increased approximately one percent in 2018.
Rather than returning to the failed policies of the past, we should be working to normalize our relations with Cuba and build a relationship that benefits both of our countries. Expanding engagement with Cuba will pave the way for new economic opportunities for America and the Cuban people.
We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.

Initiated by Senator Amy Klobuchar with the support of Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).



Reverse Trump's Cuba Reversals, Democratic Candidates Say. Do Cuban Americans Agree?


It’s no surprise the Democratic presidential hopefuls in Miami for debates this week want to reverse President Trump’s Cuba policy. But it’s not completely certain most Cuban-American voters will want that.

Of the 25 Democratic presidential candidates, 19 have staked out policy positions on Cuba. (According to nonprofit groups such as Engage Cuba, among those who have not publicly declared on Cuba is Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam — unusual for a South Florida politician. His aides say they are consulting him on the matter.)

Just about all of those 19 favor a return to former President Obama’s policy of engagement with communist Cuba — which Trump has rolled back.

In a Miami Herald op-ed this week, front-runner Joe Biden called Trump’s efforts to isolate Cuba “a Cold War-era retread.” Biden — who was Obama’s vice president — also accused Trump of “callously limiting the ability of Cuban-Americans to reunite with and support their families in Cuba.”

Other candidates — including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — call for ending the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. They also want Americans to be able to travel to Cuba with no restrictions.

Most American voters agree with those positions. But it’s not certain most Cuban-American voters do. In Miami-Dade County, the Cuban community once again seems split over the embargo issue. And a Mason-Dixon poll out this week shows 59 percent of Cuban-Americans approve of Trump.


John McAuliff comment on line:

The latest FIU poll showed that 57% of Cuban Americans support unrestricted travel for all of us. Other polls show 81% of Americans favor unrestricted travel.
This should be a no-brainer for Democratic Presidential candidates.


De Blasio says Cuba, Nicaragua have gone astray
Jun 28, 2019 

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions have gone astray, a day after he was criticized for quoting a Cuban revolutionary slogan.

De Blasio was asked to comment on the governments of the two Latin American countries on Friday.

The mayor and Democratic presidential candidate later said he did not realize that the slogan "Hasta la Victoria, siempre!" was associated with the Cuban revolution.

De Blasio said Friday that the revolutionaries were right to overthrow Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, but the revolution later "went astray." He said Cuba "could have emerged as a democratic society."

De Blasio said the situation in Nicaragua is "very sad to watch," and President Daniel Ortega's time "has come and gone."

De Blasio has visited both countries.



Positions on Embargo Published in Tampa Bay Times


Would you end or continue the trade embargo with Cuba?

Michael Bennet

U.S. Senator, Colorado

I have supported ending the trade embargo on Cuba. U.S. policy toward Cuba has not been successful, and it is time to update it. We should be working to forge new relationships and build opportunities for the next generation of Cubans and Americans.

Cory Booker

U.S. Senator, New Jersey

We need a new path forward in our relations with Cuba. Only Congress can lift the trade embargo. To be sure, Cuba’s dismal record on rights, including repression of dissent, arbitrary detention, harassment of critics; and its support for Nicolas Maduro’s brutal regime are issues that must be addressed as part of any future U.S.-Cuba relationship. 

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor, South Bend, Ind.

The Trump administration’s policies toward Cuba have been largely counterproductive across the board, squandering the potential to make progress with the first post-Castro Cuban leadership in 60 years. U.S. policy toward Cuba should be one of engagement, working toward the goal of political and economic reform in Cuba and its participation in the hemisphere’s multilateral institutions. If the United States wants to have a positive influence on political and economic changes in Cuba, it has to maintain an open dialogue with the Cuban government and Cuban society. The Trump administration’s policy of hostility is hurting Cuba’s emergent private sector—the very people who President Trump has said he wants to help. U.S. economic sanctions only make life harder for ordinary Cubans and cause friction with our allies, while doing little to encourage a democratic opening. Reviving failed policies of the past is not going to lead to freedom and democracy in Cuba.

Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senator, New York

The trade embargo with Cuba simply hasn’t worked and continues to hurt the people of Cuba. President Trump is going back to the failed policies of the past, instead of working to find solutions. There is much in Cuba’s domestic and foreign policies to dislike. But I would end the trade embargo so that we have the opportunity to influence Cuba’s government without hurting the American people.

Mike Gravel

Former U.S. Senator, Alaska

(through a spokesperson)

Mike Gravel would immediately end the Trade Embargo and open normalized relations with Cuba. The only reason for the embargo is to cripple vital sectors of the Cuban economy and then step back self-satisfied and claim their system doesn't work. It's an ideological effort, and the needs of the Cuban and American people don't come into the question for a minute.

Kamala Harris

U.S. Senator, California

(through a spokesperson)

Senator Harris believes we should end the failed trade embargo and take a smarter approach that empowers Cuban civil society and the Cuban American community to spur progress and freely determine their own future.

John Hickenlooper

Former Governor, Colorado

Generally speaking, I believe that more engagement is better than less, and that commerce, trade and U.S. travel to the island are the surest path to a freer and more prosperous future for the Cuban people. That said, we have clear differences with the Cuban government, including their poor human rights record and continued support for the Maduro regime in Venezuela. Efforts to address these issues would be a high priority under my administration. The current administration says their policy is designed to support the Cuban people. In fact, thousands of Cuban entrepreneurs and small businesses are suffering from the downturn in U.S. travel to the island. The Cuban people deserve greater economic and political freedom. They don’t deserve to be punished by the U.S. for the actions of their authoritarian government.

Jay Inslee

Governor, Washington

I would end the Cuba trade embargo. In 2015, I joined eight other governors who called on Congress to end the embargo. Ending the embargo would strengthen the U.S. agricultural industry and create jobs at home and benefit both the U.S. and Cuban economies. The United States should continue to be a champion for democratic values and freedom in Cuba. The best way to ensure that human rights, international security, and civil society are protected within Cuba is to engage with their government, people, and economy, not wall ourselves off. 

Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator, Minnesota

(through a spokesperson)

Senator Klobuchar believes it is time to turn the page on the failed policy of isolation and build on the progress of the Obama Administration to open up engagement with Cuba while respecting human rights and property claims against the Cuban government. Her bill to lift the trade embargo and eliminate the legal barriers to Americans doing business in Cuba maintains current law that addresses human rights in Cuba and allows individuals and businesses to pursue claims against the Cuban government. Opening up new markets and lowering trade barriers are critical to America’s economic growth, and Senator Klobuchar believes that lifting the trade embargo will open the door to a huge export market, create jobs at home, and support both the American and Cuban economies. 

Beto O'Rourke

Former U.S. Representative, Texas

(through a spokesperson)

End it. Beto believes our interventions in Latin America generally, whether it is Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, or El Salvador, have proved to be disastrous at every turn -- causing many of the problems we are seeing at the borders today. This embargo against Cuba and our desire to drive out the Castro brothers has been counter-productive and has produced more harm and suffering. Beto thinks we must lift the impositions on Cuba and allow the people to receive access to the food and the medications they need to thrive. Beto would work with regional partners to normalize our relationship with Cuba and improve every dynamic of that partnership from trade to travel. 

Bernie Sanders

U.S. Senator, Vermont

(through a spokesperson)

Bernie believes the trade embargo of Cuba has been severely detrimental to American businesses and the Cuban people alike. He supported President Obama’s decision to begin normalizing relations with Cuba and would lift the trade embargo as President. 

Eric Swalwell

U.S. Representative, California

It’s time to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. President Obama was on the right track by lifting various travel, financial and other commerce exchange restrictions and opening an embassy in Havana. The Trump administration’s recent tightening of the embargo by banning cruise ships, yachts, and other vessels as well as ending educational visits takes us backward on normalizing relations. This doesn’t mean we give Cuba a free pass on democracy and human rights issues. But our differences with other nations on such issues has not stopped trade relations, and – when wielded wisely – trade can be used as a tool to push such nations in the right direction. Isolation hasn’t worked; thoughtful engagement can.

Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator, Massachusetts

I’m an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that would end the economic embargo against Cuba. The proposal would maintain sanctions against Cuban government officials for their human rights abuses and property rights violations. I also support lifting restrictions on American travel to Cuba. We have over fifty years of failed experience with policies of isolation. The Trump administration’s decision to reimpose harsh sanctions only empowers the hardliners within the Cuban regime while punishing its people. I support upholding normalized relations with Cuba because I believe that engagement supports the Cuban people; policies of isolation do not. 

Marianne Williamson


I would end the embargo with Cuba. It would be good to move towards normalization of relations, with open eyes to the problems with the Cuban government.

Andrew Yang


The trade embargo with Cuba is largely symbolic, in that it’s not going to effect regime change when the rest of the world is willing to trade with the island nation. The embargo has cost American billions of dollars. We should lift the embargo so that we can exert more direct influence on Cuba in order to combat their human rights violations and improve the living conditions for those who live on the island. 

Biden on Ferrer

Joe Biden
I am deeply concerned about the unjust detainment of Jose Daniel Ferrer, a voice for change in Cuba, by the Cuban government. Ferrer must be released at once.
4:05 PM · Nov 16, 2019·


Replying to 
Wrong focus, opportunistic.  There are far more significant voices for change than Ferrer and the dissidents.  Create space for both.  Where is your criticism of Trump's rollback of Obama opening and use of Title III, support of Leahy bill for total end of travel restrictions?
John McAuliff

Replying to 

Ferrer is compromised by relations with US committed to regime change.  Countries under threat overreact, as did the US with McCarthyism and Japanese detention. Trump policy violates human rights of all Cubans.  Restore the embassy and consulate, open travel, lift the embargo!