Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mr. President, Thanks for the Response

I called the White House a while back to let the administration know my opposition to the move in Congress to bring back the Bush era restrictions on travel.  The operator kindly took my comment and information.  Last week I got an email letter from President Obama.  This is what it said:

Dear Jimmy C: (Note: It didn't say Jimmy C. This is the only change I've made to the letter.)

Thank you for sharing your perspective on American foreign policy towards Cuba. I appreciate hearing from you.
The promotion of democracy and human rights in Cuba is in our national interest and is a key component of our Nation's foreign policy. Measures that decrease dependency of the Cuban people on the Castro regime and promote contacts between Cuban Americans and their relatives in Cuba are means to encourage positive change in Cuba.
My Administration has taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people. Cuban Americans should be able to visit and assist loved ones in Cuba, and that is why I have eased restrictions on family visits and remittances. Cuban-American visitors are our country's best ambassadors for promoting freedom in Cuba.
To increase interaction and the flow of information directly to the Cuban people, I have authorized opening telecommunications links between Cuba and the United States and allowing for the export of donated personal communications devices. We have also helped the Cuban people by expanding the list of humanitarian items that Americans can send to Cuba, as well as expanding the scope of eligible gift parcel donors and donees.
I believe these initiatives benefit our Nation and help support the Cuban people's desire to determine freely their country's future. For more information on this and other important policy issues, I encourage you to visit
Again, thank you for writing.


Barack Obama

Well, I appreciate that the president took time out of his busy schedule of campaigning and running the country, but there are a few points that don't sit well with me.

During my phone call, I didn't express anything about the overall policy towards Cuba.  My comments were strictly about the efforts of a certain congressman trying to restrict travel to the island.  But since he decided to bring it up, let's talk about our policy towards Cuba. 

By stating that the United States has a policy of promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba, I have to ask, is it the United States' policy to only accept as democracy political systems that we like?  Cuba has elections and although their system differs from ours, what exactly makes it unacceptable?  Is it unacceptable that candidates in the Cuban process don't have to raise incredible amounts of money to have a chance to win an election?  Is that to be considered a violation of free speech since our Supreme Court says so?  My goodness, do you not know how many Americans feel so hopeless about our own electoral system?  It's really hard for me to believe that your biggest donors don't drown out my voice on important issues. 

Speaking of free speech, which I would imagine could fall in the human rights category, have you any idea how much Cubans complain about things?  A visit to the island would certainly help you rethink your view that speech is limited on the island.  

Contacts between Cubans in both countries are very important and there is no doubt that the decisions you made regarding unlimited travel and remittances have been very positive.  But why not let all Americans travel without having to obtain a license to do so?  Wouldn't it also be positive for Americans to meet Cuban people and vice versa?  What makes Cuba so different that Americans can't just go there if they wish to?  It really is ironic when so much is made about the difficult process that Cubans need to go through to travel abroad. 

If you, Mr. President, feel that you promote policies that decrease the Cuban people's dependence on their government, and since that desire is shared by the Cuban government itself as we can see by the changes occurring in Cuba now,  wouldn't increased travel by Americans help foster your goals?  Wouldn't travelers help by spending their money in the new entrepreneurs' restaurants, lodging, and various other services that they've created?  Of course it would.  But I understand the politics of the issue and the forces that you are up against.  Trust me, if you were to make groundbreaking steps towards normalizing relations with Cuba, those forces holding our politicians hostage to their hateful desires would shrivel up and disappear to the point that no one would have to worry about them anymore.

I'm not quite sure what you mean by saying that your administration has taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people.  You've got me confused there.  Believe it or not, the majority of the Cuban people are not too happy about your administration's decision to continue to back the embargo of their nation.  There are plenty of problems in Cuba that are not the making of our country, but the largest impediment to the full development of their nation is the embargo and Helms-Burton.  I'm sure that you already know this.  You've even spoken of the ineffectiveness of our policies...before you became candidate and President Obama.  I'm not asking you to tell me any national security secrets, but I'm willing to guess that Cuba isn't really a threat to our national security, is it?

Once again, thanks for increasing the scope of what can be sent to Cuba.  But how come, if your interested in expanding communication and equipment to the people of Cuba, Ericsson was fined for repairing such equipment and sending it to Cuba?  It seems that obstacles remain in place under your administration.

Yes, the Cuban people should determine their future just as everyone should, but they should be able to do so without constantly living with a nation like ours trying to determine it for them.  So, with that, I'll end this by saying that it is hard to know that here we are faced with choosing a president who is no doubt friendlier to the situation of families, but is still unwilling to take honest steps towards positive relations with Cuba, which is just as legitimate a nation as ours.


Jimmy C