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Latin America Working Group calls for local U.S./Cuba Policy Advocacy, 4/11

Latin America Working Group calls for local U.S./Cuba Policy Advocacy

Date sent: Tue, 11 Apr 2000 12:39:40 -0400
From: Mavis Anderson manderson@knight-hub.com

Subject: Call for local U.S./Cuba Policy Advocacy

Dear U.S./Cuba Policy Advocates:

Last month more than 80 people from organizations around the country met in Washington, DC, to discuss coordinated efforts to change U.S. policy toward Cuba. One of the outcomes of that meeting was a call for U.S./Cuba policy-related advocacy around the country from April 24-26, 2000. Many of you have already heard about this call; some of you may not yet have received word. We hope that you will plan and carry out local actions on these dates. These actions could focus on congressional advocacy, public education, cultural events, etc., as your group sees fit.

Attached you will find a page giving further information and suggestions for these activies. Your congresspeople will be on recess in their districts, so this is a very good time to make appointments to meet with  them.

Recent developments in Congress make this an especially good time to focus on educational visits to your Representative. We have recently won an important victory in the Senate. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), approved (without dissent) language in a bill that would significantly ease the U.S. food and medicine embargo on Cuba. This means that the Senate is likely to approve legislation to end the food and medicine sales ban, and it also means that this is a critical time to focus our educational and advocacy efforts on the House of Representatives.

Currently, the Serrano bill to end the embargo on food and medicine sales to Cuba has 163 co-sponsors in the House. Visits to undecided Members of the House in their district offices during the April 24-26 U.S./Cuba Policy Actions Days would be especially helpful, and visits to reinforce and encourage those who have already co-sponsored the legislation would help as well. Please circulate the attached (camera-ready) call for the U.S./Cuba Policy Action Days as widely as you can in your networks and among your contacts. Encourage groups you know and work with to organize congressional visits or other activities during April 24-26.

If you want more information on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee bill referred to above, check out LAWG's website at www.lawg.org. If you want to confirm the status of your Representative on the Serrano bill, go to the Tomas website, http://thomas.loc.gov, and search under Bill Summary & Status for the 106th Congress. The Bill number is H.R. 1644. A list of current co-sponsors for this bill is available on that site. Or give us a call at LAWG at 202/546-7010.

Thanks for whatever you can do during these days. Many of us in DC will also be making hill visits to Representatives' offices at the same time that actions are taking place in the districts. Please let us know what activities you plan and the results of any visits to Members' offices.

Sincerely,

Mavis Anderson
Latin America Working Group


U.S./CUBA POLICY ACTION DAYS

APRIL 24 - APRIL 26, 2000

 The U.S. embargo on Cuba has been in place for nearly forty years. U.S. law has limited trade and travel, prevented the sale of food and medicine, and restricted contact between U.S. and Cuban citizens.

But in the last few years, increasing numbers of U.S. citizens have discovered an interest in Cuba and have begun to question the embargo and its restrictions on contact between the U.S. and the Cuban people. In fact, more and more citizens are visiting Cuba, meeting Cuban visitors here, listening to Cuban cultural performances and seeing Cuban films, and taking political action to change U.S. policy.

In mid-March, organizers and activists from around the country met in Washington to discuss initiatives to change U.S. policy toward Cuba. In that meeting, we agreed that there is growing interest in U.S./Cuba policy and growing support for re-engaging with Cuba. And we concluded that now is the time to make that support visible.

Thus we are calling on U.S./Cuba policy activists – solidarity groups, faith-based organizations, those in humanitarian and development organizations, concerned Cuba-Americans, and others – to adopt April 24th to April 26th as U.S./Cuba Policy Action Days. During those days, we ask you to organize an event that will make visible in your community the growing interest in Cuba, and in changing U.S. policy toward Cuba.

This event can take many forms. You may want to:

_ Do a cultural event (show a film, do a concert, host an art show, have a reading);

_ Host a speaker or conduct a forum;

_ Visit your Congressperson or Senator in his/her district office to discuss the initiative to permit the sale of food and medicine to Cuba, or freedom to travel to Cuba;

_ Attend a campaign event for a candidate for public office and raise the issue of U.S./Cuba policy;

_ Hold a vigil or a picket.

There are many creative options. What we hope to do is to make visible in cities all over the country the extent to which U.S. citizens are in support of a new approach to Cuba, and are seeking new kinds of engagement.

Given recent developments in the Congress, we urge you, at a minimum, to organize a visit to your congressional representative to discuss U.S./Cuba policy.

If you plan an activity or an action, please keep us informed. Many of our organizations have resources to help with particular activities. If you’d like a copy of the Latin America Working Group’s organizing packet, Put U.S./Cuba Policy in the Campaign, e-mail to lawg@lawg.org or call at 202.546.7010.

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