Eight New Year's Resolutions
Jan 1, 2013—
I might as well put it all out there in the tradition of at least dreaming 2013 will bring a better world. After all change happened very quickly with Viet Nam once President Clinton made the decision and took the political risk.
I have paired related steps in both countries, without meaning to imply equivalence or reciprocity.
Please respond, or suggest your own resolutions in the comment space below.
Make a first or follow-up visit to Cuba in 2013. Join an existing program or work with FfRD to create your own (examples below)
2) Maximize travel!
President Obama should use his authority to grant general licenses for all categories of purposeful non-tourist travel, eliminating OFAC's politicized stranglehold and special preferences for Cuban Americans, universities and religious organizations. At the same time he must permit all travel agents, tour operators, commercial airlines and ferry services to handle authorized travelers, not only 250 licensed Travel Service Providers and charter companies. [on line petition here] Cuba should encompass in its opening of travel currently proscribed professions (see resolution 5) and "dissidents".
3) Remove secondary impediments to trade!
Both governments can easily eliminate administrative obstacles to beneficial commerce. The White House can remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and allow its international use of the dollar. Cuba can drop the 10% fee on dollar/CUC exchange and end restrictions on the self-supporting El Cabildo dinner theater of Opera de la Calle [background here] and tour group use of private restaurants and bed and breakfasts.
4) End foreign imprisonment and exile!
The US and Cuba need to resolve in a spirit of mutual respect humanitarian problems that are a legacy of decades of hostility and distrust, including citizens imprisoned by the other country for government funded missions and those exiled with political asylum.
5) Build educational exchange!
The US ought to respond to Cuba's elimination of exit visas by encouraging educational institutions to offer scholarships for graduate and undergraduate study and high school exchanges through agreements with Cuban counterparts. Cuba ought to authorize its tertiary and secondary institutions nationwide to participate. Both governments must stipulate that the right to permanent residence in the US under the Cuban Adjustment Act does not apply to those entering legally with visas or applying at US embassies in third countries. Fulbright fellowships ought to be granted in both directions.
6) Collaborate on shared agendas!
Both governments can implement their rhetoric in favor of growth of the non-state sector. The US can exempt from the embargo their purchases of our tools, raw material, expertise and inventory and our import of their products. Cuba can create channels for private trade and publish proscribed rather than permitted categories of self-employment and cooperatives.
7) Create space for change!
The political relationship will be transformed through normalization of diplomatic and civil society links. The US must unambiguously acknowledge the legality and sovereignty of Cuba's government (despite criticism of policies and structure) and Cuba must affirm the right of its citizens to publicly dissent if they are not subsidized from abroad. USAID and other democracy funds that support regime change and political opponents should be transformed into Cuban approved programs to assist growth of the non-state agricultural, cooperative and business sector consistent with national law and regulations..
8) Rebuild the OAS for everyone!
Both countries can make the OAS a vehicle for full hemisphere collaboration by the US dropping its virtually unsupported position that Cuba must retroactively meet political criteria to resume its seat and by Cuba reconsidering its stance that the OAS is still little more than an instrument for US hegemony.
It's easy to go!
Cuba is available now to every American willing to participate in a group people to people trip. At the high end National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Trust for Historic Preservation were finally granted license renewals for people to people trips. Insight Cuba is fully up to speed. However OFAC's untransparent and politicized process has denied renewal to other smaller groups that are actually better integrated with day to day life in Cuba than most larger providers. Needless to say it is solely US policy which prevents much less costly self directed family and personal exploration using private sector bed and breakfasts and restaurants and public transportation and car rental.
Following are trips currently offered by FfRD. We are ready to work with other organizations and affinity groups to design the program that meets your needs and budget.
Family Law and the Evolving Role of Women February 17-24
Horticulture program in association with the University of Washington Botanic Gardens February 22 - March 6
Opening Doors in association with the World Pension Forum (economic change focus) March 3-10
Irish and Celtic Heritage of Cuba (Irish diaspora experts and enthusiasts, traditional music performers and fans) April 14-21
Travel Industry Orientation Trip (for travel agents, tour operators and university travel and hospitality schools) May
Higher Education Orientation Trip (study abroad staff, faculty trip leaders, third party providers) June 13-24
High School Orientation Trip (secondary school administrators and teachers interested in sponsoring exchanges) July
for further information, write firstname.lastname@example.org