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President Obama Can Enable All Non-tourist Travel, 11/13/08
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

                           
Sometime in the next eight weeks President-elect Barack Obama will decide whether you can go to Cuba in 2009.
 
He has the power not only to undo the harsh restrictions mandated by President Bush in 2004, but can better Bill Clinton by granting general licenses that don't require an application for twelve very broad categories of non-tourist travel.
                  
By the stroke of a pen, and instruction through the Treasury Secretary to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Obama can continue general licenses for professional research and similarly authorize "family visits; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; and humanitarian projects" free of time consuming, costly and politically motivated licensing procedures. (full list here).

Obama's leadership should also encourage Congress to adopt legislation to end all travel restrictions, an international embarrassment and a violation of our Constitutional and human rights that applies only to Cuba.

                    
Sincerely,
                                                John McAuliff                                                   
                                               
        What you can doto help him do

               what he wants to do


1)      Click on the
Obama website and write in your own words how he should change Cuba policy.  Articulate individual comments may be noted, and at least a count will be made by topic. http://change.gov/page/s/yourvision
 
2)      Spread this appeal as widely as possible by
signing our new on-line letter and by forwarding its link to all your e-mail lists.        http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/obamacuba/

 
3)      Think about whether you have any direct or indirect way of reaching members of the transition team or high and mid-level advisers.  If you have a personal or business relationship with someone who was an important Obama supporter, or you can contact a sympathetic elected official who was active in his campaign, ask for help.  (
Go here for talking points and please let me know what you are able to do.)
 
                                        How President Obama's decision will affect you

Cuban Americans should be home free.  President Obama only has to implement his many pledges and the language of the Democratic platform for "unlimited family visits and remittances".  Nevertheless, he must be urged do so without delay, especially by those who have an ill relative or one that needs help because of the hurricanes.  Warning: some Cuban Americans who ostensibly supported Obama's election are now spinning that all he'll do is return to pre 2004 annual visits and  remittances. (
CANF story here)
 
Educational, people to people, environmental, cultural, sports, religious and humanitarian trips that were licensed in the past only require that Obama on January 21st reverse Bush's unilateral restrictions, just as he will other more notorious executive orders.
 
Travel agents and tour operators need Obama to direct OFAC to abolish the special status of travel service providers so all can book flights and hotels without cumbersome registration and reporting requirements.  They can easily organize groups and send individuals qualifying for general licenses, and even accompany them to Cuba.

Farmers, exporters, importers, investors, and business owners who want to discover what ending the embargo can mean for their bottom line can learn for themselves through licensed visits.
 .
Vacationers who just want to veg out on a gorgeous beach will find Cuba a great destination, but not yet!!  Commercial tourism needs to wait until Congress repeals at least  part of the embargo.

               
                                                                Can Obama tear down this wall?
 
Yes he can, legally and politically.
 
Will Obama do it? 
 
Yes, if he follows his own leading for civil liberties, direct dialog and the recovery of our international reputation.  Virtually every UN member, the Ibero-American Summit, and world leaders are calling on him to change us policy. (see
Sun Sentinel op ed).
 
No, if cautious advisers and the old guard convince him that 68% of Americans, including 84% of his supporters, won't notice or care that he blows off their
support for travel.
 
It depends on us doing now whatever we can so on January 21st there is more good news. 

                                                                                                                                                             
                                        I hate to ask, at least as much as you hate to give...

If the deteriorating economy hasn't hurt too much, please invest in FRD to build a broad campaign to influence the transition and create the atmosphere for Congressional repeal of all travel restrictions and then the embargo.  A contribution of $5, $50, $500 or whatever amount makes sense for you will allow us to sustain and grow our staff's educational work.  Larger donations or grants will allow us to advertise in travel media.

Please click here to donate and designate "transition project" in the Additional Options section.

Volunteer needed:  any where, any time.  Lots of prominent persons from all parts of the political spectrum and from both the private and public sector as well as editorials in many newspapers have called for ending all travel restrictions and even the embargo.  It would be great to collect all of them on a single web page that was available to Congress, the new Administration and Cuba activists.  Could it be a wikipedia page or another open access system?   Contact me if you would like to take this on.  jmcauliff@ffrd.org
                                                      

 

 

 

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