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Posted March 07, 2008 by publisher in US Embargo

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The Latin America Working Group would like to invite you to participate in the Cuba Consultation 2008 event on April 23 in Washington DC, an almost-annual gathering of people interested in ending the US embargo on Cuba. This year’s event will focus on easing the travel restrictions and the US-Cuba Cultural Exchange network.

They ask for your participation in this event in order to discuss the strategies for easing and/or lifting the US Embargo against Cuba.


Cuba Consultation 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:30 am-5 pm

LOCATION: Church of the Reformation, 212 E Capitol Street, Washington, DC

Registration Deadline:  April 16

Your invitation to the event…

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 nearly 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 and even your average citizen, 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, due to the presidential campaigns and the intransigence of the Bush Administration, it is unlikely that Congress will take any bold actions toward engaging with Cuba. For this reason, the organizers want to focus this year’s Cuba Consultation on encouraging travel to Cuba. This will include discussions on the impact of Bush Administration restrictions on travel to Cuba on various sectors in the United States, the significance and importance that this travel has to these sectors and to their counterparts in Cuba, and the need to support and increase licensed forms of travel to ensure that all avenues for travel are being utilized to their full potential by U.S. citizens.

A new administration will come to Washington in 2009. We want that new President and his/her advisors to be presented with an environment which encourages and facilitates a complete overhaul of U.S. policy toward Cuba. Significantly increasing levels of travel to Cuba where possible is one way to demonstrate how important a change in policy is to U.S. citizens. Putting pressure on OFAC by increasing license applications, optimizing use of existing licenses and general licenses, and generating broad interest in travel will help us communicate just how much U.S. citizens want to engage with Cuba.

We also will focus on the theme of cultural and artistic exchange with Cuba. Last fall, the U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange network—made up of American artists, arts presenters, agents and cultural policy specialists—sent an open letter signed by over 1,500 people to the Bush Administration calling for artistic and intellectual interchange between the United States and Cuba, and for steps to be taken towards normalization of relations. This year’s Cuba Consultation will include discussion of cultural exchange and will provide information on how you may better work with those in your community who have engaged in cultural exchange work with Cuba. A panel will take place that will include the participation of policy experts, practitioners, as well as people of celebrity who are involved in this important work.

We think this is an exciting and strategic moment to prepare for a new administration in 2009—a time when we can push for an end to travel restrictions (and hopefully even the full embargo).

We anticipate that there may be a reception at the Cuban Interests Section for consultation participants the evening of the 23rd after the close of our consultation, as has happened in previous years. This has not yet been confirmed, but we want you to be aware of this possibility when you make your travel plans.

We encourage you to take advantage of being in Washington to make appointments with your members of Congress for the following day, Thursday, April 24. 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 24th for those staying to make Hill visits. FYI:  there may be another reception the evening of April 24 with the cultural exchange community. We’ll pass on more information when we have it.

A tentative agenda—to help encourage you to participate—follows our signatures.

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED so print and fill out this form and return by:

1. Scan as pdf and return by email to Claire Rodriguez/LAWG, 202.546.7010 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or Lilia Lopez/WOLA, 202.797.2171 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
2. Fax to 202.543.7647 or mail to Cuba Consultation 2008, LAWG, 424 C Street NE, Washington, DC 20002

The Cuba Consultation 2008 registration fee is a modest $30 per person, to help us cover lunch, materials, venue, etc.


Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA)—Sarah Stephens and Collin Laverty
Center for International Policy (CIP)—Jennifer Schuett
Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FRD)—John McAuliff
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)—Mavis Anderson and Claire Rodriguez
U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange—Louis Head
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)—Elsa Falkenburger and Lilia Lopez


8:30 a.m.  Registration

Panel 1: U.S./Cuba Overview

  * U.S. Congress
  * Presidential campaigns
  * Florida races
  * In Cuba
  * Potential changes by Executive Order in new administration

Panel 2: Artistic and Cultural Exchange

  * Overview of work in cultural community
  *  Legal and technical issues; licensing
  * Artistic Agent
  * Arts Presenter/Celebrity
  * Congressional staffer from Arts Caucus
  *  How you can participate

Lunch speakers invited from the Obama, Clinton, and McCain campaigns

Panel 3: Travel—Who’s doing it and how can you?

  * Overview of current travel situation
  * Legal component
  * Unlicensed travel/travel challenges
  * Congressional travel

Publicizing travel, a “How to travel” session

Pulling the treads together


  1. Follow up post #1 added on March 07, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I support this organization and I plan to attend this conference.

    Any Havana Journal supporters who want to meet up in Washington DC?

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  2. Follow up post #2 added on April 09, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Update via email today. Here’s the current schedule. I’m sorry that I can’t attend. It’s school vacation week for my kids.

    Panel 1 – Current Situation

    ·      Cuba and the new president - Patrick Doherty (New Americas Foundation) or Dave Meyer (DC-Based Political Blogger)

    ·      Cuba and Congress – Congressional Staff person

    ·      What’s going on Inside Cuba - Meg Crahan

    ·      Miami Congressional Races – Tony Zamora

    Panel 2 – Arts and Cultural Exchange

    ·      Louis Head – US Cuba Cultural Exchange

    ·      Bill Martinez – US Cuba Cultural Exchange

    ·      Peggy Olivea

    Lunch Presentation by Christopher Baker, author of Moon Handbook: Cuba (travel guide)

    Panel 3 – Travel

    ·      Travel Challenges - Ellen Bernstein, Pastors for Peace/IFCO

    ·      Congressional Travel - Sarah Stephens, Center for Democracy in the Americas

    ·      Licensed Travel - Bob Guild, Marazul

    ·      Applying for licenses – attorney, waiting for confirmation

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  3. Follow up post #3 added on April 11, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Latest news

    APRIL 11, 2008

    For more information, contact:
    US-Cuba Cultural Exchange
    Louis Head – 505-463-0439 / James Early – 202-744-2682
    Cuba Consultation 2008
    Mavis Anderson, Latin America Working Group - 202-546-7010

    Chuchito Valdés Quartet – Bill Martínez, Martínez & Associates – 415-974-6485

    First time DC public performance to be reception for
    US-Cuba Cultural Exchange network,
    working to remove cultural barriers between the US and Cuba
    The HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues and US-Cuba Cultural Exchange will present the Chuchito Valdés Quartet on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 7pm at HR-57, 1610 Fourteenth Street NW in Washington, DC. This performance is specially priced at $10 to allow participation by DC area youth.
    Performing with Valdés will be drummer Raúl Pineda (Chucho Valdés, Síntesis), bassist René Camacho (Dizzy Gillespie, Poncho Sanchez) and hand percussionist Sandy Pérez (Afrocuba de Matanzas, Steve Coleman).

    Valdés will be introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers, whose 1987 House Resolution 57 designated jazz as “a rare and valuable national American treasure to (be) preserved, understood and promulgated.” Conyers is also a strong advocate for renewal and strengthening of cultural ties with Cuba as part of a fundamental change in US policy towards our island neighbor.
    The performance will kick off Cuba Consultation 2008, convened by organizations working to change US policy towards Cuba. The Wednesday, April 23 Consultation will focus in part on arts and cultural relations with Cuba, and participants will discuss steps being taken by the arts community to improve these.
    Cuba Consultation 2008 comes on the heels of a call last November by nearly 1,500 artists as well as arts presenters, agents and educators for the Bush Administration to take steps to re-open and expand cultural relations between our neighboring countries as part of a broader normalization of relations. A desired outcome of this year’s Consultation is heightened awareness in Congress of the
    vast sector of the arts community that views expanded cultural ties with Cuba as being in the public interest.
    According to US-Cuba Cultural Exchange Board member James Early, such activities are a step forward for public diplomacy efforts to affect change.
    “Citizen-artists are playing a significant role in challenging current policies that prevent the arts community from engaging with its counterpart in Cuba, a country with profound historical cultural relations with the United States.”
    Referencing the upcoming US presidential elections, Early adds “while there may be potential for change, it is only through our direct participation in the process that we may be able to guarantee that it is a change that results in a truly free flow of ideas, art and culture.”

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  4. Follow up post #4 added on April 15, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Okay folks, here’s the full schedule.

    Dear Cuba Policy Advocates:

    We’re busy planning Cuba Consultation 2008 which is only a week and a half away! If you haven’t sent in your registration form yet, don’t worry! It’s not too late. Log onto: http://www.lawg.org/docs/registration-form.pdf to print out and mail or fax your form back to our office. We’d appreciate receiving all registrations by April 16 so we can plan for adequate space and food.

    For more details about Cuba Consultation 2008, log onto: http://www.lawg.org/countries/cuba/cuba_consultation_2008.htm .

    We are pleased to share with you, below, the most recent draft schedule for Cuba Consultation 2008 and are thrilled to announce an exciting performance by renowned Cuban musician, Chuchito Valdés and his Quartet, the evening of April 22, to kick off Cuba Consultation 2008.  We are also pleased to be hosting a “How to do a Hill meeting” training and Hill Education Day on April 24-if there is enough interest.

    Cuba Consultation 2008

    Chuchito Valdés Quartet Performance at DC’s HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues

    Tuesday, April 22, 7:00pm - 10:00pm (NOTE:  this is the evening BEFORE the consultation) $15 admission, $10 students

    We are excited to announce that renowned Cuban jazz musician Chuchito Valdés and his Quartet will be performing at HR-57 Center for the Preservation of Jazz and Blues at 7:00 pm on April 22nd. See the invitation here! We expect the event to be crowded, so come early to get the best seats in the house! Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a strong advocate for changing Cuba policy, will introduce Chuchito and his Quartet. (Unfortunately, we are unable to pre-sell tickets.) HR-57 is one of DC’s great jazz clubs dedicated to the promotion of American Jazz and Blues music. HR-57 is located at 1610 14th St NW, Washington, DC, and is a short walk from the U Street Cardozo Metro Station on the Green Line. See HR-57’s website for more information. http://www.hr57.org .

    Lunch Address by Moon Handbooks’ Christopher P. Baker

    Christopher P. Baker, author of the Moon Handbooks on Cuba will join Cuba Consultation 2008 for a lunch presentation on travel to Cuba. He will give us pointers on traveling to the island and share stories of his experiences there. Mr. Baker has also authored Moon Handbooks Costa Rica; Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles; and Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling through Castro’s Cuba, winner of both the 2002 Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Book and the North American Travel Journalists Association’s Grand Prize. His other awards include seven prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards and a 1995 Benjamin Franklin Best Travel Guide Award for Moon Handbooks Costa Rica. In 2005 The Caribbean Tourism Organization named him Travel Journalist of the Year and named Moon Handbooks Cuba the Best Guidebook of 2005.  More can be read about Mr. Baker at: http://www.cubatravelexpert.com and http://www.travelguidebooks.com . (Biography drawn from Moon Handbooks Cuba)

    Literature and Networking Table

    Due to the many requests from consultation participants, we will make available a literature and networking table at the conference where participants can leave materials their organizations have produced and their contact information. Participants should contact Claire Rodriguez at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with questions about materials.

    Reception at the Cuban Interests Section

    On Wednesday, April 23, at 6:30 pm, after the consultation, the Cuban Interests Section will host a reception for consultation attendees; and newly-arrived Ambassador Jorge Bolaños will give a brief welcome. The ambassador will be available for a short time after his speech to meet consultation participants. Cuban musician Chuchito Valdés will also perform a couple of songs at the reception in case you missed him at the performance at HR-57. The Cuban Interests Section is located at 2639 16th St NW, Washington, DC.  (Directions will be provided at the consultation.)

    Hill Education Day and “How to do a Hill Meeting” Training

    Some participants in Cuba Consultation 2008 have expressed interest in meeting with their member of Congress’ office on April 24, the day after the consultation. The LAWG and the Washington Office on Latin America will host a “How to do a Hill Meeting” training on the morning of April 24, if there is enough interest. We will discuss how to conduct a meeting, provide talking points, messaging strategy, and hints on how to stay in touch and continue the conversation on Cuba policy with your member of Congress’ office. The training will be held from 9:00 am - 10:00 am at the Friends Committee on National Legislation building at 245 2nd St NE Washington, DC, a short walk to Capitol Hill. (Directions from the training to Capitol Hill will be provided at the consultation.)  If you are interested in participating in this briefing, please let us know asap by emailing Claire Rodriguez at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Thanks!

    Cuba Consultation 2008 Agenda (DRAFT)

    8:30 a.m. Registration and coffee

    9:00 a.m. General Intro and welcome

    9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.  Panel I - Cuba policy and background

      * Florida politics
      * What is happening in Cuba?
      * Presidential politics; candidates’ positions
      * Congressional and administration scene

    11:00 a.m. Coffee break

    11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.  Panel II - Cultural exchange

      * Culture and U.S.-Cuba relations
      * History of travel by artists and Cuban artist entry to U.S
      * Arts presenter perspectives (working with Cuban artists; economic costs of the embargo; market for Cuban cultural products in the U.S.)
      * Work of U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange
      * Senate Cultural Caucus (interaction with Congress)

    12:45 - 1:45 p.m. - Lunch

      * Speaker, Christopher P. Baker, author of Moon Handbooks Cuba

    1:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Panel III (in two parts)

    1:45 - 3:15 p.m.  Part One, Travel update

      * Travel challenges
      * Congressional travel
      * Licensed travel
      * Legal issues

    3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Part Two, Licensed travel surge training

      * Call to Action
      * Religious congregation travel licenses
      * General licenses, conferences
      * Action/brainstorm:  how can you get your community or congregation to travel to Cuba?

    4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. Informal networking, or over-run

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