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Posted April 04, 2005 by publisher in US Embargo

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Below are reports on the three upcoming activities taking place in Washington DC. Information summary courtesy of Marazul Charters. Please print this out and take it with you. Also, search [url=http://www.HavanaJournal.com]http://www.HavanaJournal.com[/url] for more Embargo news, comments and opinions.
April 26 - 2:00pm to 6:00pm
Emergency Coalition to Defend the Right to Travel (ECDET)
Upstairs room at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington (near 18th & Dupont Circle)

For academic institutions - http://www.ciponline.org/cuba/ecdet.htm

The meeting will be followed by a cash bar reception.

Report from co-Chair Wayne Smith to ECDET members  

As we move toward our meeting on April 26 and Cuba Action Day on the 27th, I wanted to give you an interim report on ECDET’s activities and where we stand.

First, our membership drive has made progress. We are now almost at 400 members and more come in all the time. Thanks to all of you who helped recruit new members.

Second, we are moving ahead with legislation in the Congress to remove the new restrictions to academic exchanges and educational travel in general. I fully expect that by April 26 a bill will have been put forward in the Senate. It will then draw co-sponsors and eventually go up for a hearing. At some point, a companion bill will have to be presented in the House as well. It can be a time-consuming process and given the leadership in both houses, no sure thing getting the bills to the floor for a vote. But once we have a bill with a number, ECDET members can begin calling on their congressmen and senators to support it, and urging deans and presidents of colleges and universities to urge support as well.

Third, we are also moving ahead with litigation. It may take time, but I am convinced we can win, for the new restrictions do violate the law and the definition of academic freedoms put forward by the Supreme. Court. By April 26, I hope to be able to report that several universities we have already approached have agreed to act as plaintiffs in our court action, which will then be filed in the Federal District Court. At that point, we will begin inviting other colleges and universities to sign on as plaintiffs as well. We will welcome your input on this. Perhaps some of you can bring your institutions aboard. Considerable publicity should result from the suit and hopefully that will put new pressures on OFAC and the Administration - and should help move the legislative process along as well.  We must also come up with funds for court costs and are working on that as well.

Fourth, let me urge all who can to come to the organizational meeting on April 26. We will have some interesting reports to make to you, but more importantly, it will be an opportunity to network, to meet and exchange views with colleagues from other colleges and universities and to plan for the future. Ideas for new initiatives and approaches, thoughts as to how ECDET might be proceeding differently, will be welcomed. And of course, you should plan to call on your congressional representatives during Cuba Action Day. That is perhaps the most important action of all. 

If you have not already done so, please contact my assistant, Ti Gierke, to let her know whether or not you will be attending the April 26th ECDET meeting and (April 27th) Cuba Action Day.  ( .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (202) 232-3317 ext. 107)

ECDET’s Co-Coordinator, Wayne Smith will chair and each of the four task force coordinators will report on their efforts thus far and their plans for the future.  The second part of the agenda will be a forum for comments and suggestions from the members. 

At this crucial stage in ECDET’s efforts, it is important for all members to be present at this meeting. 

April 26 1:30pm to 4:00pm
Engaging Congress in 2005 - A Winning Strategy for Shifting US/Cuba Policy
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (same as above)
1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington (near 18th & Dupont Circle)

For grassroots organizations working to change US Cuba policy and end the travel restrictions RSVP if possible

CO-SPONSORS: U.S.-Cuba Sister Cities, Global Exchange, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, DISARM Educational Fund, Latin American Working Group, Center for Cuban Studies, Women and Cuba Collaboration,  (and more to be confirmed)

P.S. It is the same location that the new group: “Emergency Coalition to Defend Educational Travel” specializing in academic freedom issues, will be holding their meeting led by Dr. Wayne Smith and Dr. Les McCabe.  A cash bar where participants in both meetings can co-mingle will follow directly afterwards.

WHO:  Grassroots organizations like ours partnering together to end the   travel ban. 

WHAT: Organize an on-going constituent educational campaign to inform members of Congress about the impact of the travel bans on both the U.S. and the Cuban peoples by:

1. Matching constituents from key districts with their representatives

2. Power mapping and developing a year-long strategy to gain new pro-travel votes in both houses of congress

3. Develop collective language to use by all groups and individuals involved

4. Share resources on how to effectively work with your representative and Senator, how write letters to the editor, press releases and other public education materials

WHY: To gain a veto-proof majority and put an end to this senseless Cuba policy once and for all.  To hold Congress accountable and make sure they vote for what is best for their constituents and not cater to the pressure of pro-embargo forces defending their own economic interests.

April 27
Cuba Action Day
Full day of activities focused on lobbying your Congressional representatives in Washington

The sponsors of Cuba Action Day are advocates for a new Cuba policy, starting with repeal of the ban on legal travel by Americans to Cuba. For more than forty years, the United States has tried to isolate Cuba in ways that defy common sense and are inconsistent with American values.

For example, Americans have lost their fundamental right to travel. Cuban families on both sides of the Florida Straits are divided by new and outrageous travel restrictions.

Farmers must overcome special obstacles to sell their products in Cuba; other businesses are banned from engaging in commerce altogether. Church groups have been prosecuted by the federal government for attempting to provide humanitarian aid. Scholars, students, and artists have lost the right to engage in cultural and academic exchanges.
The travel ban takes away from all of us the simple ability to learn more about some of our closest neighbors in the hemisphere and to share our values with the Cuban people.

For four years in a row there has been a majority of votes in the U.S. Congress for lifting the travel ban, but adoption of this long overdue proposal has been thwarted every year.

We believe that in 2005 we are in striking distance of victory. But our leaders need to hear from us. By gathering in Washington, we will send a strong message that freedom to travel, to trade, to visit families, to teach and learn should be at the core of our foreign policy, and that securing these freedoms, supported by a majority of Americans, should be a high priority for the Congress in 2005.

April 27th is not an end in itself. It is the beginning of an important debate and period of action on Cuba policy. And your participation will strengthen the hands of our supporters in the U.S. Congress as they begin the effort to have legislation repealing the ban on travel signed into law this year.

Cuba Action Day is the kick-off for a nation-wide, ongoing campaign that will include activities in your own state and congressional district. We want to help you connect with others from your state in order to organize follow-up meetings with members of Congress in district offices, to do local media outreach, and to stay in touch with foreign policy aides in the D.C. offices of your representatives so that they can hear from you before Cuba votes. Cuba Action Day is not a one-day event, but part of a dynamic relationship between national and local actions.

Cuba policy can be changed and, with your help, the majority will prevail.

On April 27th, Members of Congress and policy makers in the Executive Branch will hear that message loud and clear.

To register online: http://www.cubaactionday.org/reg.aspx


We hope you will be able to travel to Washington for these activities.
For an end to the travel restrictions,
Kendra Guild, Academic Program Coordinator
Bob Guild, Program Director
Marazul Charters, Inc.

Please note new address and telephone numbers:
4100 Park Avenue
Weehawken, NJ 07086
(800) 223-5334
(201) 319-1054
(201) 319-8970 FAX
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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