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ICYMI: Cuban-American Business Leaders Place Full Page Ad In Miami Herald In Support Of Engagement

Ric Herrero

#CubaNow

Dec 21, 2015

Friends,

We wanted to pass along an important message that ran in this Sunday's Miami Herald. After traveling to Cuba earlier this month to explore the changes that have taken place since diplomatic normalization, a group of prominent Cuban-American business leaders returned convinced that the new course in policy would help the Cuban people and took out a full-page advertisement calling on the Cuban-American community to join in their support: 

"We have no agenda aside from the reunification of our larger Cuban family and the millions of individuals there who deserve a better life. We have been blessed with living in the United States and the rewards of the free market. And we have arrived at the point in our lives where we have no interest in personal advancement, but only in what would be good for 'nuestra gente.'

"We believe this new policy of engagement, this step whose time has come, is one that we must meet with recognition - that we and the world have changed. We must shift our attitude for the betterment of our children, grandchildren, and the Cuban people.

...

"We saw progress beyond what we could have imagined. We saw entrepreneurs with a thirst for knowledge and families benefiting from the newfound freedom of enterprise. It is these 'everyday' people who are leading the way to an improved life but not without challenges.

...

"As fellow Cuban-Americans, let us recognize the progress that has been made on both sides of the 90-mile Florida Straits, albeit halting, in the right direction. Just consider what has been accomplished in the last 12 months versus what has been accomplished in the last half-century. There is now a legal framework - the first in decades - that allows both sides to negotitate toward reaching agreement on substantive issues, 55 Wi-Fi hotspots have been established in Cuba, an aviation agreement has been inked, and an environmental memorandum has been signed to address our shared ecosystem. Negotiations have even begun as a first step toward the settlement of private assets seized by the Cuban government.We must demonstrate the courage to receive this policy shift with dignity and open minds, and the courage to try to view these changes through the hopes and the promise of a better Cuba."

As the Miami Herald noted, "[t]wo Republicans who led the travel group paid for the ad: Carlos Gutierrez, the U.S. commerce secretary under former President George W. Bush, and Mike Fernandez, the Coral Gables healthcare magnate and top financial backer of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign. Also signing the letter were Miami attorney [and #CubaNow member] Ralph Patino; Public Health Trust Chairman Joe Arriola; John McIntire, chairman of the Cuba Emprende Foundation, which supports a business training program run by the Cuban Catholic Church; Miami tech entrepreneur and investor Manny Medina; Ariel Pereda, a businessman who facilitates trade to Cuba and is chairman of the Engage Cuba Council; David Hernandez, chief executive of the Fort Lauderdale-based Liberty Power; Juan Espinosa of The Espinosa Group, a general contractor, and Enrique Sosa."

The advertisement calling for a full embrace of the policy ran just days after a new poll showed that majority Cuban-American support for normalization has continued to grow in the past year. It's an encouraging sign that while the path ahead may not always be easy, the Cuban-American community is increasingly seeking to play a greater role in fostering engagement between our two countries.

Thank you for your support,

Ric Herrero
Executive Director, #CubaNow