Following President Trump's Cuba announcement in Miami last Friday, Republican Members of Congress came out opposing President Trump's directive to tighten regulations on U.S. travel to and trade with Cuba.
"We are encouraged that the Trump Administration wants to help Cuba’s private sector. Unfortunately, the people who will be most negatively impacted by this directive are Cuban entrepreneurs." (Photo: Miami New Times)
On the eve of President Trump's reported rollback of Cuba policy, a coalition of conservative advocacy organizations, led by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, sent the President an open letter urging against a potential reversal of current policies that expanded travel to and trade with Cuba.
Ahead of President Trump's reported rollback of Cuba policy, leading international human rights organizations issued statements condemning a potential reversal of current policies that expanded travel to and trade with Cuba.
"Our new Cuba policy has boosted the economy, created American jobs, strengthened U.S. national security and empowered the Cuban people. Tightening these restrictions would hurt the Cuban people and add new job-killing regulations on U.S. companies, the opposite of President Trump's 'America First' agenda."
Two groups of pro-Cuba engagement House and Senate Republicans each sent letters to President Donald Trump and members of his administration, respectively, asking for Cuba to remain open in the wake of reports the administration is leaning toward reversing its policy on the island nation.
I recently sat down for a conversation with James Williams, President of Engage Cuba in Washington, D.C.
Engage Cuba is the bi-partisan non-profit organization representing business and private companies working to endtrade and travel restrictions against Cuba. They are a deeply committed organization involved in lobbying Congress to lift the embargo. Their prime focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy.
If the U.S. embargo on Cuba is lifted in the near future, one of the reasons why is starting to take shape right now in places that at first blush seem unlikely stakeholders in what happens between the two nations – Ohio, Tennessee, Louisiana and Minnesota.
And it will be thanks to an ambitious advocacy group that isn't even a year old.
Coalitions to push for an end to trade and travel restrictions with Cuba have formed in those states thanks to an effort by Engage Cuba – a D.C.-based advocacy group that includes political operatives from both sides of the aisle, business leaders, industry groups and corporations like Choice Hotels, Comcast and P&G – to build a movement across the country for congressional action on ending the trade and travel ban.
Business leaders in Ohio have been enlisted in the fight to end the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
Engage Cuba, a year-old Washington-based coalition of companies and organizations working to end the embargo, created the Ohio State Council in February in Cleveland. Ohio businesses stand to benefit from lifting the 55-year-old embargo, the coalition says.
When you meet James Williams it seems hard to believe that this apparently wet-behind-the-ears young man is the president of the most powerful coalition group that fosters a policy change towards the island nation: Engage Cuba. Moreover, it’s even harder to think that Williams is a strategist that has managed a three-million national campaign aimed at talking the Obama administration into changing relations with Havana.
The Engage Cuba Coalition, which supports lifting the U.S. trade embargo and travel ban on its island neighbor, is bringing its advocacy to Louisiana.
The bipartisan group launched earlier this year but has so far focused on lobbying Congress. Now the coalition wants to help local constituents who support better relations with Cuba express that message to their communities and their political representatives.
Engage Cuba, which formally launched last month, is led by political consultant James Williams and includes 15 major companies, trade associations and other groups including the National Association of Manufacturers, Consumer Electronics Association and Choice Hotels.
Following President Obama’s Dec. 17, 2014 announcement that the United States would work to normalize relations with Cuba, both pro- and anti-embargo groups in the United States began mobilizing. For one group, Engage Cuba, that mobilization resulted in an official launch on Tuesday, June 16, when the organization aired its first ad campaign on CNBC, MSNBC, and Fox News. By expanding its network of partners and overall influence in Congress, Engage Cuba endeavors to support continued U.S.-Cuban normalization and reform current travel and trade restrictions, according to the organization’s president, James Williams.
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan coalition “Engage Cuba,” an organization supporting an end to the U.S. embargo on the island, on Tuesday officially began its activities in Washington to promote policies to foster an opening toward Havana and increase the pressure on Congress for legislation to that effect.