Maggie Alarcón

The President misses an opportunity to show we listen–and to create jobs

In Blockade, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban Americans, Cuban Embargo, Economics, General, History, Miami/Cuba, Politics, US on October 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

By John McAuliff The Havana Note— Oct 25, 2011.

Today for the twentieth time the US will embarrass itself in the court of international public opinion when the General Assembly votes on our Cuba embargo..

I feel for Susan Rice, our extraordinary Permanent Representative to the United Nations, or the functionary who will carry her water, as they defend the indefensible, fifty years of unilateral and internationally condemned economic warfare against a neighbor for daring to be different.

Presumably we will again have only Israel by our side, its ears burning from hypocrisy. Israel’s citizens freely vacation, work and invest in Cuba, unlike the Americans whose lonely hand they hold. The former head of the Mosad intelligence agency for years managed Cuba’s largest citrus plantation.

The world does not know whether to laugh at us for our absurdity, despise us for our bullying or pity us because a tiny minority of embittered exiles so easily dominate our foreign policy.

The President can hardly join the near unanimous opposition to US policy, but he could show the decency to abstain.

Speaking of the President, yesterday, because I am a campaign donor, I received this innovative crowd sourcing message from James Kvaal, Policy Director, Obama for America

WE CAN’T WAIT

As Republicans in Congress continue to stall on President Obama’s jobs plan, we’re building a case for action based on the stories of Americans from all over the country.

Take a minute now to share yours.

This was my response:

The President is entirely correct in his criticism of the Republicans for their obstructionism on jobs.

However, the President is not without fault.

If he had more aggressively implemented his new policy on Cuba, he would have easily created thousands of jobs in the travel industry instead of a few hundred.

He could have provided general licenses (not requiring an application) for people-to-people travelers as well as for Cuban Americans, college students and religious organizations.

He had the power to enable travel agents and tour operators all over the country to book flights, accommodations and programs for authorized travelers to Cuba rather than maintain the restrictive licensing system of 250 Travel Service Providers, 2/3 of them in Florida.

If he had even authorized general licenses for all IRS registered 501c3 groups, he would have spared our organization and hundreds of other not-for-profits the interminable and arbitrary bureaucratic process of application to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. (Eight months later I am still waiting and the jobs I might have created do not exist.)

Point the finger at the Republicans but also look in the mirror.

Listen to your base and independents, Mr. President, and two-thirds of Americans (including 57% of Cuban Americans) who favor unrestricted travel to Cuba and believed you would move further beyond decades of failed policy.

Turn away from Republicans who will never support you and from the handful of Democrats who receive campaign funds from the same embittered anachronistic exiles.
John McAuliff a very disappointed active 2008 supporter
Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development

I might also have pointed out that if President Obama used his power to suspend virtually the entire embargo, tens if not hundreds of thousands of new US jobs would result.

Two recent reports are worth studying by everyone who follows US-Cuba relations, and merit further comment in a future post..

Freedom House used some of its million plus dollars in USAID democracy funds to publish a survey which concludes that most Cubans actually believe in and welcome the economic reform process now underway.
Florida International University publishes its tenth survey of Cuban Americans, illustrating once again that hard liners are a dimiinishing and aging minority.

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