The Cuba Study Group was founded in 2001 over the realization that policies based on strategic rather that reactive considerations were needed, and we committed ourselves to seeking more practical, proactive and consensual approaches toward Cuba policy. Since then, the Group has sponsored numerous polls aimed at giving the exile community a voice and to promote the richness of diversity of thought that characterizes our community. And we have always stood by the results of our polls.

Since it was announced that the Colombian artist Juanes planned to host a concert in Havana, there has been a vibrant and sometimes contentious debate over the merits of this particular concert and of cultural exchanges with the island in general. The Cuba Study Group believed it was important for the voice of the exile community to be heard on this issue and that is why we sponsored this poll. Even though 47% of respondents do not share our support for the concert in Cuba, our commitment to pursuing the truth has never depended on whether we like, or dislike, the results of our polls.

As many of you know, the Cuba Study Group has long supported cultural exchanges, as we believe they help break the isolation of the Cuban people and offer them a window to the outside world. In fact, 50% of respondents also support cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba, while only 34% oppose them. That is why we have supported [and continue to support] the concert proposed by Juanes and said that instead of closing the door on this opportunity, we should seize it and ask Juanes to send the Cuban people a message of hope, support, and fraternal affection.

The Cuba Study Group has always expressed concern over the fact that the Cuban government may in fact be counting on the reaction of the exile community to do its dirty work and support the image of an intransigent and obstinate community that it has worked so hard to portray. The results of this poll demonstrate that that is a concern shared by an overwhelming majority of the exile community. The results show that 74% of our community believes that destruction of CDs with hammers and the burning of t-shirts by extremist elements of our community has a negative effect on the image of exiles in the United States. While we respect their opinions and right to protest, we reject these types of virulent reactions, as they only serve to feed the regime’s negative propaganda machine against the exile community.

Forty* percent of those who oppose the concert feel the concert ignores the political realities of Cuba in one way or another. This coupled with the fact that 40% of respondents ages 18-34 are still undecided would suggest that Juanes could strengthen support in our community for this concert if he convinces the exile community that he is well informed about the realities in Cuba including violations of human rights, the existence of political prisoners and lack of personal freedoms and that he will not allow himself to be manipulated by the Cuban government.

The Cuba Study Group along with many other organizations in the exile community and members of civil society inside the island continue to support this initiative. We continue to believe that any opportunity to break Cuba’s isolation from the outside world and expose civil society to a message of hope can be positive. We hope that the results of this poll will provide Juanes with a deeper insight into the legitimate concerns of the Cuban American community and help him deliver a positive message that will truly resonate on both sides of the Florida Straits.

News Center

Date Title
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8/4/09 Cuba publishes collection of Fidel Castro thoughts
8/4/09 Travelers challenging Cuba ban return to US
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