Cuban Citizens to U.S. Congress: Let All Americans Come to Cuba

Members of Cuban Civil Society
Havana, Cuba

May 30, 2010

Honorable Members of the United States House of Representatives
Honorable Members of the Agriculture Committee of the House of Representatives United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Representatives:

We the members of Cuban civil society, who are signing this letter as individuals, have learned that you are currently considering the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act (H.R. 4645), to end travel restrictions on all Americans to Cuba and to remove obstacles to legal sales of United States agricultural commodities to Cuba.

We understand that this bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats in the Congress of the United States. We also know that for this bill to be considered by the full House of Representatives, it must first be passed through the House Committee on Agriculture.

We know that major non-governmental organizations support this bill, including, to name only a few: The United States Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Cuba Study Group and many other human rights organizations.

We share the opinion that the isolation of the people of Cuba benefits the most inflexible interests of its government, while any opening serves to inform and empower the Cuban people and helps to further strengthen our civil society.

We value the experience of all the western countries, including the United States, who favored opening and trade with all the countries of the former Eastern Europe. We are sure that isolation does not foster relationships of respect and support for people and groups around the world who are in favor of democratic changes in Cuba.

We would like to recall the memorable words of Pope John Paul II who, in his own life, had experienced a totalitarian and closed system: "Let Cuba open itself to the world and let the world open itself to Cuba."

Over time we have seen that the Cuban regime does not open itself fully to the world, nor to its own citizens, because what it fears most is an opening, of free trade and of free enterprise, and the direct flow of information and communication between peoples.

Those who oppose H.R. 4645 argue that lifting these restrictions would be a concession to the Cuban regime and a source of foreign income that could be used to repress the Cuban people. They also argue that given the ongoing violations of human rights and the repeated acts of repression, lifting these prohibitions would be an abandonment of Cuban civil society.

It is true that repression and systematic violations of Human Rights have recently increased in a cruel and public way. It is true that these funds could also be used to support and even worsen repression.

We believe, however, that if the citizens of the United States, like those of the rest of the world, increased their presence on our streets, visited the families of the political prisoners and other members of the nascent Cuban civil society they could: first, serve as witnesses to the suffering of the Cuban people; second, be even more sensitized to the need for changes in Cuba; and third, offer solidarity and a bridge to facilitate the transition we Cubans so greatly desire.

The supportive presence of American citizens, their direct help, and the many opportunities for exchange, used effectively and in the desired direction, would not be an abandonment of Cuban civil society but rather a force to strengthen it. Similarly, to further facilitate the sale of agricultural products would help alleviate the food shortages we now suffer.

Above all, we believe that defending each and every Human Right for all people must be an absolute priority, ahead of any political or economic consideration, and that no restriction of these rights can be justified on economic, political or social grounds. We believe that rights are protected with rights.

Because the ability to travel freely is the right of every human being, we support this bill. The current Cuban government has always violated this right and in recent years has justified its actions with the fact that the government of the United States also restricts its citizens' freedom to travel. The passage of this bill would remove this spurious justification.

Finally, Honorable Representatives, we strongly believe that the problems of Cuba and its path to freedom and democracy are a responsibility and a labor that belongs to all Cubans, those of us who live on the Island as well as those who suffer in exile in the Diaspora, who also love this nation we all share.

In the world today, all peoples of the earth are interconnected, even when their decisions are their sovereign right. These principles - of responsibility for our beloved country and of universal fraternity - encourage us to respectfully communicate our views to you with regards to this bill, because although it is the responsibility of Americans, it affects the Cuban people.

Thank you for your attention and respect.

Signatories to date:
Juan Juan Almeida García
José Alberto Álvarez Bravo
Silvio Benítez Márquez
Juan Carmelo Bermúdez Rosabal
Servando Blanco Martínez
Félix Bonne Carcassés
Luis Cáceres Piñero
Claudia Cadelo de Nevis
Leonardo Calvo Cárdenas
Eleanor Calvo Martínez
Marcelo Cano Rodríguez
Cecilio Dimas Castellanos Martí
Miriam Celaya González
Francisco Chaviano González
Hortensia Cires Díaz
Martha Cortizas Jiménez
Manuel Cuesta Morúa
Roberto De Miranda Hernández
Gisela Delgado Sablón
Reinaldo Escobar Casas
Oscar Espinosa Chepe
Guillermo Fariñas Hernández
Guedy Carlos Fernández Morejón
Juan Carlos Fernández Hernández
Karina Gálvez Chiu
Livia Gálvez Chiu
Margarita Gálvez Martínez
Julio César Gálvez Rodríguez
Joisy García Martínez
José Luis García Paneque
Juan del Pilar Goberna
Ricardo González Alfonso
Iván Hernández Carrillo
Maikel Iglesias Rodríguez
Irene Jerez Castillo
Yusnaymi Jorge Soca
Eugenio Leal García
Miriam Leiva
Gloria Llopis Prendes
Olga Lidia López Lazo
Yasnay Losada Castañeda
Luis Ricardo Luaces
Juan A. Madrazo Luna
Ainí Martínez Valero
Katia Sonia Martínez Véliz
Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarría, presbítero
Manuel Alberto Morejón Soler, presbítero
Félix Navarro Rodríguez
Jorge Olivera Castillo
Pablo Pacheco Ávila
Leonardo Padrón Comptiz
Héctor Palacios Ruíz
Gustavo Pardo Valdés
Yisel Peña Rodríguez
Ana Margarita Perdigón
Arturo Pérez de Alejo
Juana Yamilia Pérez Estrella
Tomás Ramos Rodríguez
Soledad Rivas Verdecia
José Conrado Rodríguez Alegre, presbítero
María Esperanza Rodríguez Bernal
Lázaro Rosales Rojas
Elena Rosito Yaruk
Yoani Sánchez Cordero
Fernando Sánchez López
Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz
Mayra Sánchez Soria
Pedro Antonio Scull
Sergio Abel Suárez García
Virgilio Toledo López
Dagoberto Valdés Hernández
Wilfredo Vallín Almeida
Alida Viso Bello
Liset Zamora