HT Reader Writes to Obama, Gets Reply

Havana’s malecon seawall. Photo: Deborah Castellanos

HAVANA TIMES — Recently we at Havana Times were surprised and pleased to receive the following letter from Charles Boesen, a US reader who took the time to address his concerns about US-Cuba policy by writing directly to his President.

With his permission, below are an edited version of his original letter to HT, plus original scans of his letter to Obama and of Obama’s reply.

HT thanks Mr. Boessen for taking the time to let us know of his efforts, and invites other readers who desire a change in the US policy towards Cuba to follow his example.

Dear Editor,

I’ve read your Havana Times with great interest for many months now…

Lately, many articles have been written about “change” in Cuba, and in the comment section many viewpoints are bantered back and forth. But the one thing that I can assure you is that Americans do not “hate” Cubans, as someone said. Americans, for the most part, are kind and generous people, no matter what you’ve been told.

The only reason more Americans are not all up in arms about Cuba, and the outdated embargo, is that they don’t know Cuba even exists (I’m saying that with a bit of sarcasm).

I’ve visited Cuba many times and when I share my Cuban adventure stories with other Americans, most of the time I get a blank stare. Some who are well informed want to know more and are excited to hear, but that is rare, maybe 1 out of 10.

So, I thought I could contribute something interesting to your blog: I wrote a letter to our president spelling out my concerns for Cuba, and I got a response. Needless to say I was very excited. I’m attaching my letter to President Obama and also the response from him. From what I could find out, his mail handlers forward about a dozen letters a day for him to read. I’m sure he receives thousands a day.

Thank you and keep up the good work.

Charles Boesen
Appleton, Wisconsin





17 thoughts on “HT Reader Writes to Obama, Gets Reply

  • It is the ultimate hypocrisy for our government, the American government, to inflict such economic pain and hardship upon the Cuban people to supposedly effect a change in government over which they have no effective control. There can be nothing more “un-American” and it all must end now.

  • Somewhere in the bowels of the Executive Office Building some drudge grinds out these letters. You can tell by the vague boilerplate responses. The correspondent who replied to Mr. Boeson is most assuredly not President Obama; s/he takes his/her lead from the official line. I know of what I speak. For several years during the 1970’s I labored as literary secretary to a famous author (who here and forevermore remains anonymous). The difference between the White House drudge and myself was that, like Mickey Mouse in Disney’s “Fantasia,” to relieve the boredom while “the master” was away I got into trouble by writing a few outrageous responses, signing my master’s name, then sending ’em off under his letterhead! I don’t think any of the President’s men (or women) whould take such chances now, though.

  • Get used to it. Moses offends any reasonable person with his poison. Never forgive his crocodile’s tears. This particular line:

    “”The American people, from the sweat of our brow, continue to foot the bill to defend freedom all over the world.”

    Is so offensive for those who remember all the coups, invasions, trade embargos, and bombs from the ‘freedom bullies’ of the world.

  • Does it not bother any of you who favor the embargo that the US policy toward US citizens supposedly living in “the land of the free” forbids their travel to Cuba….a right enjoyed by citizens of virtually all other nations. How foolishly we give up our freedoms!

  • Please don’t take it personally. It was not intended as such. I do disagree with the premise behind your questions. President Obama has made reasonable moves to improving relations with Cuba. The next move is Cuba’s. Your question ignores the political reality in Cuba and the lack of basic human rights. One of which is the right to earn a salary commensurate with your contribution to society. On that basis, I have the right, not priviledge, to travel to that once beautiful island and purchase cellphones, sim cards, beef, french perfume, and variety of other items on the black market. Which makes my point: the fact that many hardworking Cubans can only dream of these luxuries that exist right under their noses is further testimony of the disaster wrought by the Castro dictatorship. Again, apologies for my implied profanity.

  • Mr. Patterson, First I take offence for the use of profanity in your personal attack that appears to be directed at me. And second, my request of President Obama was clear, and that was to remove all travel restrictions for US citizens wanting to travel to the island. Assuming you’re an American, and even if you’re not, how was it that you had the privilege to travel to that beautiful island and experience all it has to offer, including purchasing cellphones and sim cards on the black market, while others cannot?

  • Obama did use his powers to lesson the hardship of the embargo when he increased the amount of remittances Cuban-Americans can send to Cuba, and relaxed the restrictions on travel. He also exempted more items from the embargo. So it seems he did some of those things you clammer for.

    Now what has the Cuban regime done to increase respect for human rights in Cuba? Nothing. What about democracy? Nothing.

    The shoe is on Raul’s foot, and he still prefers the jackboot.

  • One man’s drivel is another man’s way of saying, “What a stupid f#$%ing question to ask! The US should not make concessions to the tyrannical and repressive Castro dictatorship.

  • If we analyze the so called response.

    Question: Would you consider using your executive powers to lessen the hardship caused by the embargo?

    Answer: Eh — No comment.

    Question: Would you consider allowing ordinary Americans to travel freely to Cuba?

    Answer: Eh — No comment.

    What a lot of drivel.

  • Grady, exactly where do you live? Just the word ‘socialist’ will get you thrown out of most places in the United States of America that I live in. On top of that, the last country in the world that would serve as a role model to Americans is Cuba. We can barely stand a President for 8 years, let alone 54. Goldman Sachs, General Motors, AIG, etc. reorganizing along socialist lines. Are you off your meds?

  • I would be interested in that information too!

  • Grady, you’re delusional. There have been no political changes in Cuba and the government has been explicit in saying there will be none. Add to that huge increase in repression of dissidents (over 6000 express detentions last year), and the growing corruption. Meanwhile the state-monopoly corporation GAESA continues to expand as it takes more and more of the Cuban economy under its control.

    Cuba is becoming less co-operative, less socialist and not one bit democratic.

  • The exciting thing about positive change in Cuba–making Cuban socialism more cooperative and democratic–is that the people of the US will be able to understand clearly how to reorganize the US along socialist lines.

  • Good for you in writing your letter, Charles.

    Good for President Obama for responding to it.

    And good for Circles in printing it all here at Havana Times.

    Now I wonder how a Cuban citizen would fare if he wrote a letter to Raul Castro criticizing his policies toward the US and urging him to open up to America?

  • It is clear that the current US policy toward Cuba is to maintain the status quo and wait for Cuba to iniciate political reforms towards a more open and democratic society. This is the correct policy in view of the changes the Castros must adopt to continue their weakening grip on the Cuban population.

  • I woul LOVE for anyone to post an article or academic paper with link showing with data/numbers an analysis on how the Cuban “embargo” hurts the everyday Cuban citizens! Any takers?

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