(based on email received by LAWG.org)
A representative group of the Cuba Steering Committee (an ad hoc working group of more than two dozen organizations and individuals active on Cuba policy issues) invites you to participate in this year’s Cuba Consultation day.
Since 1995, there have been more than a dozen “Cuba Consultations,” events at which a broad spectrum of individuals and groups who support change in U.S. policy toward Cuba have gathered together to share points of view and get a sense of the challenges and opportunities that confront us in the Congress, with the administration, and in public opinion.
The consultation is an opportunity for people who care about Cuba and changing U.S. policy to come together to discuss an issue which unites all sectors - travel. From academics to farmers, Cuban Americans to religious organizations, and from travel service providers to performing artists to curious citizens, everyone is suffering under U.S. restrictions.
In recent years, the Cuba Consultation focused attention on the situation in the U.S. Congress, and the possibilities of legislative action. This year we are presented with our best opportunity in years to press for a transformational shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba: the greatest possible reduction in U.S. economic sanctions, including the travel restrictions that block citizen contact, and more diplomatic engagement with Cuba.
A key part of this will be efforts to achieve bold action by the Congress to end the ban on travel to Cuba for all Americans. In the House of Representatives, legislation to end the travel ban has already been introduced, HR 874. At the consultation, we will talk about how to work with and move the Congress on the travel issue.
A new administration has come to Washington, and a new environment exists. A review of U.S.-Cuba policy is currently underway in the administration, and anticipation is high that the President will issue an executive order in the coming weeks. Ending the ban on travel for Cuban Americans is a good first step, but only a first step. Our message must be loud and clear. Congress must act to allow travel for all. This is an exciting and strategic moment to make our voices heard.
The organizers encourage you to register for the consultation (see below) and begin now making appointments with your members of Congress for Friday, March 6. Congress is in session that day and will be holding votes. Your members will be in Washington, so ask for a moment of their time, in addition to meeting with their Foreign Policy Aides. We can help you with phone numbers, staff names, etc., if you ask. We will also provide a “How to” session, with coffee and bagels, the morning of the 6th for those who want hints on how to conduct a meeting with staff and members.
As you plan your travel, you might keep in mind that in previous years the Cuban Interests Section has sometimes hosted its own event during or right after the consultation. We anticipate that they might host a reception on the evening of the 6th after the close of our consultation. This has not yet been confirmed, but we want you to be aware of this possibility when you make your travel plans.
Please note that Thursday afternoon is devoted to workshops. Please contact the organizers if you are interested in helping develop a workshop or have a workshop topic to propose.
Geoff Thale, Lilia Lopez, Angelica Salazar, and Ashley Morse Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Mavis Anderson and Paulo Gusmao - Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Wayne Smith - Center for International Policy (CIP)
Bob Guild - Marazul Charters, Inc.
Silvia Wilhelm - Puentes Cubanos
Sandra Levinson - Center for Cuban Studies
Randy Poindexter - FOCUS (Friends of Cuba)
Kirsten Moller - Global Exchange
Sarah Stephens - Center for Democracy in the Americas
Delvis Fernandez and Luis Rumbaut - Cuban American Alliance Education Fund (CAAEF)
Melinda St. Louis - Witness for Peace
Jan Strout - U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration
Cindy Domingo - Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Lisa Valanti - US-CUBA Sister Cities Association
John McAuliff - Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Jim Vondracek, Gary Cozette, Marilyn McKenna, and Danielle Wegman - Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
Louis Head - U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange
Marty Shupack - Church World Service
Ricardo Gonzalez - Madison-CamagueySisterCity Association
Bob Schwartz - Disarm Education Fund
Art Heitzer and Sandra Edhlund - Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba
Tony Zamora and Elena Freyre - ForNorm
PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
The Cuba Consultation 2009 registration fee is a modest $40 per person, to help us cover lunch, materials, venue, etc. There is a space on the registration form for your credit card information, or you may write a check to LAWG to attach to your snail mail registration or to give us upon arrival at the consultation.
Thursday, March 5
8:30 a.m. Registration
9:00 -10:15 a.m. Panel 1: U.S./Cuba Overview
Developments in Cuba
The Obama Administration and Cuba policy review
Executive order/travel for families and others
Congressional Action on Cuba
10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Panel 2: Getting to Travel for All
Arguments and tools for organizers
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. Panel 3: Sectoral updates and strategies
Academic community support for full travel
Religious community support for full travel
Cuban American (ENCASA and others)
Business community support for full travel
12:30 -1:30 p.m. Lunch and small group discussions/networking
1:45 - 3:00 p.m. Workshops Session One
Organizing congressional meetings
Local media work
Travel to Cuba
3:15 - 5:00 p.m. Workshops Session Two
Organizing congressional meetings
Local media work
Travel to Cuba
Friday, March 6
Full day of congressional Hill visits set up by individual participants with your members of Congress
Pick up packets, and orientation session for congressional visits (Location TBD)
8:30 a.m. Coffee, registration, pick up materials
9:00 -10:00 a.m. What to do at a congressional meeting, and follow up
Time TBD Public forum on Capitol Hill, sponsored by ForNorm (Foundation for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations) on South Florida Congressional Surveys - Policy Implications for U.S./Cuba Relations
All day till 5:00 p.m. Hospitality, coffee, report back forms drop off (Location TBD)