Cuban-Americans Oppose Designation of Cuba as a Sponsor of Terrorism

Photo from Manzanillo, Cuba by Caridad.
Photo from Manzanillo, Cuba by Caridad.

HAVANA TIMES — Sixty Cuban Americans from across the United States released an open letter to the Obama Administration strongly disagreeing with the position of Cuban-American legislators from Florida on retaining Cuba on the State Department’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”

The signers state that the Cuban-American legislators from south Florida do not represent them or their views on Cuba, or the views of the majority of Cuban Americans.

“The removal of Cuba from this serious tool of U.S. foreign policy is long overdue,” maintain the signers.

Their full statement follows.

OPEN LETTER TO: President Barack H. Obama
The Honorable John Kerry, Secretary of State
June 11, 2013

We, the undersigned, are Cuban Americans opposed to the statement by three Cuban-American members of Congress, sent to Secretary of State John Kerry on April 29th, regarding keeping Cuba on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. See: http://ros-lehtinen.house.gov/press-release/bipartisan-congressional-group-asks-administration-keep-cuba-state-sponsor-terrorism. Their expressed views do not represent those of the majority of Cuban Americans.

We feel strongly that the original reasons for adding Cuba to that list no longer exist. If you apply the criteria described by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in taking North Korea off the list in 2008 – no support for terrorism in the last twenty years – the removal of Cuba from this serious tool of U.S. foreign policy is long overdue.

We also believe that removing Cuba from the terrorist list would advance the process of other mutually-beneficial bilateral communications between Cuba and the United States. This is of the utmost importance to the United States. The Boston marathon tragedy highlights the importance of international cooperation against terrorism. The issue must not be politicized. As proud Americans, committed to the security of our nation, we urge the State Department to conduct a serious professional evaluation of Cuba’s presence on this list. Dealing with terrorism requires policy and leadership divorced from politics and distractions.

Removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list will enable the United States to look at the current challenges and opportunities posed by Cuba. The island is a country in transition, not a national security threat. Recently Cuba has provided new opportunities on the island for private enterprise, the removal of travel restrictions, an open market for housing and cars, among other things. Although we know there is much more to be done, it is imperative that the United States maintain an open line of communication with Cuba while this transition continues to evolve.

Thus, we firmly denounce the statement by the three Cuban-American members of Congress, who have falsely claimed to represent all Cuban Americans. Recent polls in the Cuban-American community, and in the nation as a whole, demonstrate that current policy is not the wish or position of the Cuban-American community, or of the American citizenry in general. A summary of recent polls may be viewed here: http://www.lawg.org/storage/documents/Polling_Data_On_Engagement_with_Cuba_02_2012.pdfis

We, therefore, request that you take into consideration the views of the majority of our community and our nation regarding this important issue, and not just the views of two or three members of Congress. They do not represent us.

We are including links to several documents and articles that we hope will inform any decision about the mistaken inclusion of Cuba on the terrorist list.

Congressional Research Service: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL32251.pdf

Arturo Lopez-Levy in Foreign Policy in Focus: http://www.fpif.org/articles/its_time_to_delist_cuba

Former U.S. diplomat in The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/guest-commentary/296867-former-us-diplomat-patrick-ryan-#ixzz2RxKKwbVV

Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-cuba-us-terror-list-20130502,0,2494970.story

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA-2) in the Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2013/02/21/cuba-label-terrorist-state-longer-justified-some-officials-say/CmVFXsVC4M1R1WbHE8lb0H/story.html

Brookings Institute: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2013/01/opening-to-havana

We thank you for taking the time to hear us – and for taking our views into consideration.

Respectfully,

María Isabel Alfonso, PhD, CAFÉ (Cuban Americans for Engagement), Jackson Heights, NY
Maria T. Aral, President, A Better Choice Travel, Miami, FL
Annie Betancourt, Coral Gables, FL
Elizabeth Cerejido, Independent Curator & Art Historian, Miami, FL.
Elena R. Freyre, Foundation for Normalization of US/Cuba Relations, Miami, FL
Arturo Lopez-Levy, University of Denver*, Denver, CO
Vivian Mannerud , President, Airline Brokers Co. Inc. , Fort Lauderdale, FL
Joe Perez, J. Perez Associates Inc., Long Beach, CA
Silvia Wilhelm, President, Cubapuentes, Inc.*, Miami, FL
Antonio Zamora, Foundation for the Normalization of US/Cuba Relations, Miami, FL
Sir Knight Jorge Ignacio Fernandez, Deputy Grand Knight, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Knights of Columbus, Buckingham, PA; Founder & President, Hope for Cuba Foundation, New Hope, PA
Eddie B. Levy, Jewish Solidarity, Miami, FL
Xiomara Almaguer-Levy, Cuban American Defense League, Miami, FL
Hugo M. Cancio, President & Founder, Generacion Cambio Cubano, Miami Lakes, FL
Luly Duke, Founder and President, Fundacion Amistad, New York, NY
Flora González Mandri, Cambridge, MA
Alvaro F. Fernandez, Progreso Weekly and Miami Progressive Project, Miami Beach, FL
Ed Canler, Chattanooga, TN
Alex Lopez, President, Interplanner, Washington, DC
Aileen Ortega, Coral Gables, FL
Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, Professor of Social Ethics and Latino/a Studies, Iliff School of Theology*, Denver, CO
Samuel Farber, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Brooklyn College of CUNY*, NY
Sandy Waters Milord, Filmmaker/Photographer, Washington, DC
Joaquin E. Casamayor, Houston, TX
Félix Masud-Piloto, DePaul University*, Chicago, IL
Ibis Gomez-Vega, DeKalb, IL
Myra Mendible, Fort Myers, FL
Romy Aranguiz, Worcester, MA
Andres Ruiz, Worcester, MA
Terry A. Maroney, Professor of Law; Professor of Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University*, Nashville TN
M. Isabel Medina, New Orleans, LA
Alan A. Aja, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Brooklyn College (City University of New York)*, Brooklyn, NY
Edmundo Garcia, periodista (journalist), La Tarde Se Mueve, Miami, FL
Amaury Cruz, V.P., Foundation for the Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations*, Miami Beach, FL
Melinda Lopez, Bedford, MA
Ana Karim, Charlotte, NC
Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of California*, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Lillian Manzor, Miami, FL
Iraida H. López, Professor, Ramapo College of New Jersey*, Leonia, NJ
Enrique Sacerio-Gari, Bryn Mawr College*, Rosemont, PA
J. Tomas Lopez, Professor of Art and Art History, Head of Electronic Media, Univ. of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
James Buckwalter-Arias, Associate Professor of Spanish, Hanover College*, Madison, IN
Alberto R. Coll, Professor, DePaul University College of Law*, Chicago, IL
Andrés Gómez, editor, Areitodigital Magazine, Miami, FL
Flavio Risech, Associate Professor, Hampshire College*, Amherst, MA
Manuel R. Gómez, DrPH, Washington, DC
Michael Misa, Tampa, FL
Roberto Fernandez Rizo, Actor, Escritor y Educador, Lexington, VA
Marlene J. Looney, Downingtown, PA
Daniel James Perez, Encinitas, CA
Daniel Matthew Egol, Briarcliff Manor, NY
Katia Martinez, West Palm Beach, FL
Raul Morejon, West Palm Beach, FL
Dr. Alberto N. Jones, President Caribbean American Children Foundation, Palm Coast, FL
Luis A. Molina, Cuban-American Artist/Philadelphia-Cardenas Friendship Assoc., Philadelphia, PA
Luis Rumbaut, Attorney, Washington, DC
José Pertierra, Attorney, The Law Office of José Pertierra, Washington, DC
Beth Boone, Artistic and Executive Director, Miami Light Project, Miami, FL
Delvis Fernandez, Cuban American Alliance, San Luis Obispo, CA
Aidil Oscariz, Miami, FL

*For purposes of identification only

For more information visit the Latin America Working Group website.


8 thoughts on “Cuban-Americans Oppose Designation of Cuba as a Sponsor of Terrorism

  • June 17, 2013 at 6:02 pm
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    Judging from his body of work as a contributor to The Havana Note, Arturo Lopez-Levy is certainly not a mouthpiece for the Cuban regime.

    His arguments may displease the Cuban American hardliners, but they are well within the mainstream of political opinion about Cuba policy including mine.

  • June 17, 2013 at 7:43 am
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    Arturo Lopez Levy’s association with the Cuban regime is well known and well documented. Every time he opens his mouth he repeats the latest arguments from Havana.

    Yes, Cuban-Americans are allowed to speak their minds and call for the political changes they want. Ironically, that’s a right the Cuban people do not have in Cuba.

  • June 15, 2013 at 8:55 am
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    Attempting to discredit the letter by attacking one of the signatories for being a distant relative of Raul Castro diminishes the credibility to your argument.

    Nor did the letter claim the US position is being dictated by 3 Cuban American members of congress. The letter was a response to a statement made by these members of Congress.

    Cuban Americans who support more engagement with the Cuban government have just as much right to try to change American foreign policy as those Cuban Americans who want to maintain a hard line.

  • June 15, 2013 at 6:28 am
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    First of all, you should not be changing countries, the u.s. is a joke, double standard, hipocret.

  • June 14, 2013 at 7:31 pm
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    Thre are near 1.5 millions of Cubans in the USA. 60 of them consider the Cuban regime a legitimate government. [?]

  • June 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm
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    I am amazed at the political naiveté that the extreme left in the Cuba-American community continue to express. In addition to Griffin’s comments, I would add this criticism. In as much as these 60 signatories seek changes to US/Cuban relations, it would make more sense that their efforts would see greater effect it they were focused on changing the Castros and not on changing how Washington responds to the Castros. No fewer than 10 of these signers take their marching orders directly from Havana. At least 20 more of these names are Cubans who have a personal stake in maintaining the status quo in Cuba. Given this obvious bias, it would seem that this group would have greater influence in Havana than they have in Washington. The only reason I surmise that they would have Washington make unilateral concessions to Cuba is, despite their US citizenship and otherwise patriotic grounding, on the issue of Cuban relations, their hearts are in Havana.

  • June 14, 2013 at 5:42 am
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    This petition seems to have been lead by Arturo Lopez Levy, the cousin of Raul Castro’s son-in-law. This relationship places the providence of the letter in the appropriate context.

    The letter asserts, falsely as it happens, that the US government position is dictated by 3 Cuban-American members of congress. Several members of congress, from both parties and from a broad range of US society, spoke in support of keeping Cuba on the list.

    The petition makes a couple of spurious arguments:

    1. That being on the list is an impediment for Cuba’cooperation with international counterterrorism efforts.

    In fact, it’s the other way around. Cuba’s refusal to cooperate is one of the reasons they’re on the list.

    2. That by keeping Cuba on the list, the US is some how prevented from observing the transitions taking place on Cuba. The US govt, and any interested members of the public, are well informed about the minor economic changes Raul Castro has introduced. They are also aware the Cuban govt has no intention of extending the reforms to the moribund Stalinist political system which still exists on the island. Furthermore, they are aware of the significant increase in repression of dissidents over the last few years.

    The Cuban govt would do better to focus on correcting the outstanding issues with regards to their continuing support of terrorism, rather than waste their time & energy on promoting these petitions which seek to change by political pressure what they refuse to change by deed.

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