Washington, DC- An unprecedented group of statesmen, business leaders, and experts from both parties have come together to sign a historic letter urging President Obama to take immediate steps to increase support for Cuban civil society using his executive authority. The Open Letter to President Obama calls on the President to: 1) Expand and safeguard purposeful travel to Cuba by all Americans, 2) Increase support for Cuba’s civil society, and 3) Prioritize principled engagement. The letter is the result of a joint effort by various organizations, including the Cuba Study Group, that support a more effective U.S. policy toward the island that prioritizes helping the Cuban people and promoting fundamental political and economic rights. The open letter can be found at: www.SupportCubanCivilSociety.org.

The Open Letter to President Obama represents an unprecedented bipartisan call by high-level leaders for greater executive action to facilitate travel between the U.S. and Cuba and to support Cuba’s growing independent entrepreneurial sector. Signatories include former Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte; former Supreme NATO Commander and Commander of U.S. Southern Com James Stavridis; three former Assistant Secretaries of State for the Western Hemisphere; former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott; former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering; as well as former U.S. Ambassadors Hattie Babbitt, Charles Shapiro; and former heads of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana Vicki Huddleston and Michael Parmly; prominent Cuban-American business and community leaders and other national leaders.

While the travel and remittance changes President Obama made to U.S.-Cuba policy during his first term have had a positive and palpable impact on Cuba’s civil society, the U.S. is now, more than ever before, in a position to help the Cuban people determine their own destiny by building on those steps. This letter represents a growing national consensus for further executive authority, which has been repeatedly exercised by Republican and Democratic Administrations and backed by various legal studies.

“President Obama has repeatedly stated the ineffectiveness of our Cuba policy and the need for a 21st century approach. The time has come for President Obama to take action to increase support for Cuban civil society. Continuing to delay such actions will only isolate Cuban civil society and hinder its development while undermining U.S. interests,” said Carlos Saladrigas, Chairman of the Cuba Study Group. 

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