Press Release from National Summit on Cuba
“Any candidate who wants to win a statewide election in Florida should be for lifting the embargo on Cuba. The new voter registration trends in the Hispanic community demonstrate that,” said Alfredo Duran, Esq., former chair of the Florida Democratic Party.
“Decision-makers should exercise caution in taking advice from any exile community. Distorted advice contributed to intelligence failures in Iraq,” said Retired General John Sheehan, former Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) who was in charge of Guantanamo Bay during the last refugee crisis.
“The U.S. government is denying Americans access to life-saving drugs from Cuba,” said Peter Bourne, M.D., chairman, Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba (MEDICC). “Three thousand lives could have been saved over the last 10 years if the U.S. approved a meningitis B vaccine from Cuba. Through use of the Cuban vaccine, the disease has been wiped out in Cuba and Europe for years.”
“It’s time for a different course,” said Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ). “We should allow Americans the freedom to travel. We can take away Castro’s microphone. I see travel as a punishment to Castro. Sanctions have not done much to stop Castro from jailing people.”
“We will pass a measure lifting the travel ban on Cuba in 2005 and it will be put on the president’s desk,” said Senator Larry Craig (R-ID)
“Our mission is to bring to the American public a better understanding of our policy towards Cuba,” said former Congressman Sam Gibbons (D-Tampa). “We haven’t had a really good policy on Cuba and for the Cuban people for all of my life. Engagement is a better policy in dealing with people than hostility. It’s that simple. It’s much better to sit down and talk with each other and listen to each other. If there is any policy that needs that attention it’s the American policy towards Cuba.”
“What we have done for the last forty years has not accomplished anything,” said Wayne Smith, Ph.D., Center for International Policy and former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana during the Carter and Regan administrations. “Even the leading dissidents in Cuba are opposed to our policy. Every major religious group in Cuba condemns our policy.”
“When one steps back and looks at American foreign policy we open ourselves to hypocrisy,” said William Delahunt (D-MA). “Restricting Cuban- Americans from travel and visiting their families is only about politics. The only ones being hurt are families in Florida and Cuba.”
The National Summit on Cuba is cosponsored by the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba, the Florida-Cuba Business Council and the World Policy Institute at New School University. Additional cosponsors included Tampa-based A.R. Savage & Company and the Port of Corpus Christi. Approximately 240 attendees from across the nation representing the private sector, and local, state, and federal governments attended the summit.