By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, April 14 — Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) has a 10-step plan to normalize relations with Cuba, and 46 fellow House of Representative members have signed on to a letter to be hand delivered to President Obama.
The move comes as strategizing occurs among Latin American leaders who are saying that it’s time the US take its strangle hold off Cuba by ending its half-century blockade of the island. By doing so, this would usher in a new chapter in relations with the region.
The congressman will be traveling on the plane with Obama to the Fifth Summit of the Americas to take place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on April 17-19.
On Monday, Obama issued new freedoms to Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba as they wish and send unlimited remittances. The allowing of Cuban-Americans to visit the island was good news for many Cuban families divided by hostile politics.
However, Obama’s announcement left the shackles on other US citizens, still prohibited by law from visiting Cuba without a special permit from the Treasury Department. The economic blockade also remains intact.
In a press release, Farr said, “I’m excited by the positive signs that are emerging from the White House and the changes we’ve seen in Cuba over the past couple years. I look forward to continuing to work with the president to build on this momentum during the Summit of the Americas and as we move forward.”
The California congressman’s letter advises Obama “not to oppose Cuba’s full participation in the Organization of American States.”
The island was ostracized by the OAS in the early sixties under heavy pressure from Washington. The subject of Cuba’s absence will most likely be brought up in Trinidad and Tobago by several leaders, including Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Farr also recommends “removing Cuba from the designation as a state sponsor of terrorism” and “as a country not cooperating with anti-terrorism efforts.” Such a move would help pave the way to possible presidential talks between Barack Obama and Raul Castro.
The Cuban president has repeatedly stated his willingness to meet the US chief without preconditions and on the basis of mutual respect.
Farr further recommends promoting “cooperation between US-Cuba security and law enforcement agencies.”
“Our government has been hostage to policies put in place 50 years ago, and that’s not how we reestablish our nation as a leader,” Rep. Farr said. “It’s time to initiate a complete overhaul of our relationship with Cuba,” concluded the press release.
A copy of Congressman Farr’s letter can be viewed here: