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Open letter to Obama calls for new steps to promote change in Cuba

David Adams

Reuters

May 19, 2014

Excerpts: The White House should expand licensed travel for all Americans to Cuba and increase support for civil society on the communist-ruled island, according to an open letter to President Barack Obama that was signed by an unprecedented group of 44 former top U.S. government officials and advocates of policy reform and released on Monday.

The letter, which lists a series of policy recommendations, was signed by John Negroponte, the former Director of National Intelligence under president George W Bush, retired Admiral James Stavridis, who stepped down last year as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, as well as several former senior State Department officials and a dozen prominent Cuban American advocates of greater engagement with Cuba.

The recommendations are designed to take advantage of what the letter calls a "window of opportunity" created by reforms underway in Cuba to reduce state control in some economic areas and allow the creation of small, privately run businesses.

Reducing U.S. restrictions on travel and financial activity in Cuba would help "deepen the changes already underway by giving greater freedom to private organizations and individuals to directly and indirectly serve as catalysts for meaningful change in Cuba," the letter says.