MIAMI - Former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev will come to Miami to discuss his longstanding interest in Cuba and offer historic perspectives on U.S. policy toward the island at the upcoming Florida National Summit on Cuba. Gorbachev will join a host of Cuban-American and elected leaders from the state of Florida, former American government officials, current members of Congress, heads of the two major international human rights organizations and international representatives to discuss how changing dynamics affect now and future U.S. policy toward Cuba.
The Summit—to be held on Saturday, October 4th at the Biltmore
Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida—comes at a critical time in
U.S.-Cuba relations. The U.S. State Department announced it is
currently reviewing all aspects of United States policy toward Cuba, a
policy that for the past 43 years has been based on a unilateral
economic and diplomatic embargo. The review comes as tension grows
between the U.S. and Cuban governments and between the Bush
administration and hardline supporters of the status quo within the
Cuban-American community who recently denounced President Bush’s
return of 12 hijackers to Cuba. Prominent former Cuban political
prisoner and Miami exile Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo’s return to Cuba last
week has also heightened the debate.
Internecine divisions within the Republican party over Cuba policy are
also thickening the plot. Despite growing bipartisan momentum in the
U.S. Congress to lift the travel ban, the Bush administration greatly
tightened restrictions on legal travel to Cuba earlier this year. A
bitter fight on open travel is, for the third year running, expected
in the Congress this fall.
Polls show that about three-quarters of South Florida Cuban-Americans
believe U.S.policy has failed and that a new approach should be
pursued. A majority of Cuban-Americans appear now to support a policy
that can enhance their ability to participate in an evolving Cuba as
well as begin to address the interests of the Cuban people as they
themselves express them.
For Americans at large, changing national security needs and new
commercial opportunities resulting from 2000 legislation which opened
some food trade with Cuba compel us to reconsider relations with an
important neighbor. But what would an effective, pro-active U.S.
policy be; and what can we realistically expect it to do?
These issues and others will be discussed at the upcoming Florida
National Summit on Cuba. The Summit is being coordinated by the World
Policy Institute’s Cuba Project in collaboration with a consortium of
Cuban-American groups—Puentes Cubanos, Cuban Committee for
Democracy, Fundacion Amistad, the Time is Now Coalition and Cambio
Cubano—and Americans For Humanitarian Trade With Cuba (AHTC).
General Charles Wilhelm, former Chief Commander, U.S. Southern
Command, former assistant Secretary of State William Rogers, U.S.
Representatives Jeff Flake and William Delahunt, Human Rights Watch,
Amnesty International and others will attend.
The Florida National Summit is the second National Summit on Cuba—a
concept formulated by the World Policy Institute Cuba Project to
publicly raise a national debate on how U.S.-Cuba policy effects U.S.
national interest, the Cuban people and future stability of Cuba, the
harmonization of the divided Cuban family and American international
leadership. The first National Summit on Cuba was held in Washington
DC on September 17, 2002 with 48 speakers from across the U.S. For a
Compendium of Commentary from the last Summit and registration and
other information on the Florida National Summit on Cuba, please
contact the number above or visit our website:
Contact: Lissa Weinmann (718) 416-1653 or (917) 239-8743
SOURCE National Summit on Cuba