Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

The 2009 Cuba Consultation Day in Washington DC was a great success.

I have to say that Mavis Anderson from the Latin America Working Group and Geoff Thale from the Washington Office on Latin America did a fantastic job organizing the all day event on Thursday and the Capitol Hill visits on Friday.

There were well over 100 in attendance all all were treated to fantastic information sessions by panelists who are all well known and respected Players in the Cuba arena. Trinity College near the Catholic University of America was a terrific venue.

Attendees learned about US Cuba policy from these panel topics:

1. The Administration, Congress and Cuba Policy - What are the Prospects?

2. Moving Legislation to End the Travel Ban

3. Issues in US Cuba Relations

4. Cuba Initiatives and Building Support to End the Travel Ban

Lunch was provided and several discussion groups were coordinated but all you had to do was talk to the person on your left or right and you had enough conversation to keep you interested.

Since I don’t have permission to post the names of any of the attendees that I met, I can simply say that they were all experts in their own specialty areas of Cuba just as were the highly qualified panelists. Friday most of us went up to Capitol Hill to meet with our Representatives and Senators to encourage them to sponsor the bills to end Cuba travel restrictions on all Americans that are currently in Congress.

In the Rayburn Building

Friday I met with my Congressman Bill Delahunt (he introduced HR874 bill to lift travel restrictions on all Americans to travel to Cuba) and met with staffers from several other Massachusetts Representatives asking them to add their names to the list of co-sponsors of this Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act.

In the US Senator’s offices

I also met with staffers from Senators Kennedy and Kerry. I had a good conversation with a staffer from Senator Kennedy’s office that told me he spent six months in Havana.

I asked the Senators to support Senate Bill S428 since we need more co-sponsors of the bill to lift the Cuba travel restrictions on all Americans.

Cuban Interests Section

Separate from the Consultation, attendees were invited to attend a reception at the Cuban Interests Section (it is an Embassy but since the US and Cuba do not have formal diplomatic relations, it is not called an Embassy) on Friday evening. Ambassador Jorge Bolanos and his staff were gracious hosts. We were treated to mojitos, a variety of Cuban food and Cohiba cigars after Ambassador Bolanos addressed us.

Thank You

I would personally like to thank Mavis, Geoff and their staff for a terrific educational experience in Washington, DC, and Ambassador Bolanos and his staff for the cultural experience at the Cuban Interests Section.  I was very impressed with the city itself, the Reagan airport, the Metro and Woodley Park area where I stayed for the duration.

Tell Congress you want the freedom to travel to Cuba

If you want to have the right to travel to Cuba (the only country in the world where travel is restricted for all Americans by their own government), ask your Representative to be a co-sponsor of House bill 874 and ask your Senator to be a co-sponsor of Senate bill 428.

—————————————- Havana Journal Comments—————————————-

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