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Fox News Latino: How a Hashtag Helped Thaw U.S.-Cuba Relations

Ric Herrero

#CubaNow Blog Post

Mar 25, 2015

Dear Friends,

Recently I participated in an interview with Francisco Alvarado of Fox News Latino, which just ran his great profile piece on #CubaNow and the work we carried out over the last year to support a new course on Cuba policy. It was a reminder of just how far we’ve come, but it’s also a reminder for me personally of how many great people have been involved in the initiatives we’ve been a part of -- and many that predated our organization -- to get us to this point.

No single story could easily encapsulate everything or everyone that it took to make a major change possible, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight that many Cuban-Americans from around the country, not just Miami, have supported our efforts. I'd also like to recognize the invaluable contributions by members of the Cuba Study Group, the Council of the Americas, and the Brookings Institution in securing signatures from bipartisan statesmen for the letters referenced in the article, as well as the strategic counsel of the Trimpa Group and MDC Strategies who helped us turn an idea into a movement. Thanks to their efforts, #CubaNow was able to play a unique role in helping define this important moment in history.

And that’s in addition to all of you who support us with follows, retweets, likes and sharing key facts and stories every single day. Thank you. Below are excerpts and a link to check out the story. Let us know what you think.

"At LabMiami, a technology business incubator located in Miami’s trendy Wynwood neighborhood, Ric Herrero wages a national campaign using traditional and social media that has played a significant role in thawing frosty relations between the United States and Cuba. As executive director of #CubaNow, Herrero is the public face of an organization backed by prominent Cuban-American businessmen in Miami who want to end the embargo…

"That message was first delivered via posters on Washington, D.C., subway cars showing Obama and blaring the headline, 'Stop Waiting.'

"The goal, Herrero said, was to drive home a new narrative that a majority of Cuban-Americans oppose the last 51 years of isolationism. 'Change will only come from within Cuba,' Herrero said. 'By expanding the flow of commerce between U.S. businesses and the Cuban people, they can be in a better position to demand greater changes from the Cuban government.'

"The letter helped convince the Obama administration that Cuban-Americans were onboard with his plan to start discussions with Cuban President Raúl Castro, said Ralph Patino, a lawyer based in Coral Gables who is one of #CubaNow’s founding members.

"'This notion that the president didn’t consult with Cuban-Americans in Miami is not true,' Patino said. 'The administration had boots on the ground, talking to individuals like myself and getting feedback from us.'

"During both encounters, Herrero said, he discussed three objectives: Empowering the Cuban people, applying pressure on the Cuban government to embrace greater democratic reforms and advancing the interests of the U.S.

"To that end, #CubaNow is establishing relationships with members of Congress who want to end the embargo, Herrero said.

"'Most of the resistance is from the Cuban-American members of the south Florida caucus who have never really been challenged about their opposition,' he said. 'However, we are looking forward to working with other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who want to change U.S. policy toward Cuba.'"

To read the whole story at Fox News Latino click here.