Over 100 Cuban Entrepreneurs Urge Trump to Strengthen U.S.-Cuba Relations

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, at a press conference in the Russell Senate Building, a group of Cuban entrepreneurs released a letter signed by over 100 Cuban private business owners that was sent to President-elect Trump. The letter urges the President-elect to continue to build on the progress of the last two years that has helped Cuba's private sector to flourish. These entrepreneurs traveled from Havana to join U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and U.S. Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MN), Jim McGovern (D-MA), and Kathy Castor (D-FL) to discuss how the U.S. regulatory changes have improved the lives of Cubans and Americans. 

"As a businessman, Mr. Trump would be proud of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Cuban people. These changes have helped Cuba's private sector grow and are widely supported across the island," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, a national advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the U.S. embargo on Cuba. "There is no business in the world that would continue a strategy that has failed for 55 years. We see no reason why he would do the same with the U.S. government. We're hopeful that he will continue to build on the progress of the last two years that has helped U.S. businesses and created positive changes for the Cuban people."

At the press conference, Marta Elisa Deus Rodriguez, founder of Deus Expertos Contables, which provides accounting and financial services for private businesses in Cuba, said, "after receiving my MBA in Spain, I returned to my home country of Cuba because I thought it would be possible to start my career in business. I now own three businesses and I want to grow all of them, and that’s why I hope the new Administration does not change this policy. I fear that if we turn the clock back, my business will suffer." 

Julia de la Rosa and her husband have run La Rosa de Ortega bed and breakfast for 20 years. Julia said, "When the U.S. and Cuba re-established relations, and Airbnb arrived in Cuba, it was a game changer for us. We have seen our business grow so much the past 18 months and have hosted hundreds of visitors. We now have 17 people working with us. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I hope that President-Elect Trump recognizes how much these changes have helped us. We don’t want to go back, we don’t want to focus on our differences, we want to improve our relations with the U.S. and think about the future and what our two countries can accomplish together."  

Marla Recio Carbajal, founder and president of Havana Reverie, an upscale event and wedding planning company that caters primarily to U.S. travelers and companies, also participated in the press conference. After receiving a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Havana, Marla decided to pursue a master's degree from the University of California, San Diego. "I decided to go back and start an event planning company in Havana, specifically for American clients. This was possible because of the combination of Raul Castro opening Cuba's private sector and an improvement in U.S.-Cuba relations. Now, with the easing of travel restrictions, more Americans are visiting the island and that’s helped my business grow. I want to be in Havana and I look forward to a future that is better for the American and the Cuban people."

Yamina Vicente is an event planner and interior decorator who started her business, Decorazon, five years ago after receiving her MBA. She’s seen considerable growth and has taken advantage of Cuba's expanding Internet access to create partnerships with more than a dozen other private businesses. "I am here today with one hope: to not go backwards, to maintain the achievements we've made, to continue the positive change and growth for those that want a more prosperous country. I trust that Mr. Trump, as a businessman, understands our needs. A few years ago, a new era of hope began for Cubans. It is critical that we work together to not interrupt that progress, and instead empower those dreams."

Full text of the letter is available below. 

Dear President Elect Donald Trump:

Congratulations on your election as president of the United States. The Cuban people, particularly the private sector in Cuba, watched the election with much interest. As you know, U.S. policy towards Cuba greatly affects our day-to-day reality, including our commercial relationship with the United States and the rest of the world.

As Cuban entrepreneurs, we have experienced a great deal of change over the last several years. Changes by our government allow for increased private sector activity and we’ve seen significant growth in small businesses in our country. Over a half of million people now work in the private sector, earning considerably more money than state jobs and offering more autonomy in business decisions. We’re hopeful that our government will make additional changes to the legal framework and market conditions in the future.

Reforms made by the U.S. government to allow for increased travel, telecom services and banking have helped substantially as we attempt to grow our businesses. An influx of American and Cuban American visitors stimulates growth for our businesses, directly and indirectly. Better internet and long-distance calling improves marketing, product sourcing and interaction with customers. Improved banking relations to facilitate payments by U.S. companies and U.S. travelers is key to long-term growth. Increased interaction and business dealings with U.S. travelers and U.S. companies has had important economic benefits, the exchanges of ideas and knowledge, and offered much hope for the future.

As a successful businessman, we’re confident that you understand the importance of economic engagement between nations. Small businesses in Cuba have the potential to be drivers of economic growth in Cuba and important partners of the U.S. business community. Additional measures to increase travel, trade and investment, including working with the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo, will benefit our companies, the Cuban people and U.S. national interests. We look forward to taking advantage of any openings that your administration makes to the Cuban private sector and the Cuban economy as a whole.

Sincerely,

Ailyn Garces Fernández
Andrés Garcés Zamora
Aún a FernándezCrespo
Aylen Garces Fernández
3C

Ruben Valladares
Mayda Rodriguez de la Torre
Mayrene Valladares Rodriguez
Yeini Valladares Acosta
Adorgraf

Gabriela Ogando
Apartamento AltaMira

Rigo García Berriel
ArtPrint

Niuris Higuera
Atelier

Vanessa Arocha Ochoa
Bolsos Vanessa

Rafael Rosales
Ricardo Vidal
Juan Carlos Sánchez
Petro Cepedo
Danilo Lerma
Café Madrigal

Osmary Armas Ruiz
Casa Colonial 1923

Carolina Rodriguez
Rafael Lenin
Casa Sandélis

Rocío Lopez
Orlando Ochoa
Heidis Grande
Leandro González
Roy Recio
CET Eventos

Hector Higuera
Chansonnier

Idania Del Rio González
Clandestina

Roberto Carlos Vidal García
Clínica del Celular

Pedro Antonio Rodríguez Díaz
Dayana Fajardo Hoyos
Club Salseando Chévere

Cardidad Luisa Limonta Ewen
Confecciones PROCLE

Lester Sinconegui
Cooperativa de Construcción

Yamina Vincente
Decorazón

Marta Deus
Irina García
Mevelyn Alonso
Johanna Ruiz
Deus Expertos Contables

Zaylhi Linares Hernandez
D’evento

Maricel Ponvert Iser
José Manuel Amaro Came
Damián Jorge More
De'Marie

Norlin García
Emilio García
Manuel Hernández
Diseñadores Independientes

Augusto González
Adriana González
Paulino García Rams
Alina González Rams
Divina Pastora

Dorian Carbonell
Damian Carbonell
Donde Dorian

Vanessa Pino Arocha
Dulce Detalles

Sasha Ramos
El Cocinero

David Horta
Galería Pedro Pablo Olive

Ernesto Antonio Figueredo Castellanos
GERSTAR

Miguel Hernández Fernández
GESTOUR

Manuel Pérez Escribano
Ecodafo

Elizabeta Castro Ferrera
Elitec

Ubaldo Huertas
Fonoma

Oscar Matienzo
Graphicos

Marla Recio Carbajal
Havana Reverie

Roger Juaristi Guede
Freddy Rossel Orta
Highvista Promotions

Indhira Sotillo Fernández
Isladentro

Juan Alejandro Hernández
Juan Luis Santana
Ke Hay Pa Hoy

Carlos Garcia
Kewelta

Ode Baullosa
Enrique Nuñez del Valle
La Guarida

Julia de la Rosa
Silvio Ortego
La Rosa de Ortega B&B

Mabel Poblet
Mabel Poblet Estudio

Nestor Brito Medina
Making the Web

Mariela Flores Iriarte
Manane Records

Marta Deus
Yasym Ruiz
Lisandra Palma
Mandao

Marta Vitorte
Marta

Mario Otero
Mayito B&B

Marta Deus
Charly Morales
Negolution

Julio Alvarez
Nidialys Acosta
Nostalgicar

Yudith Almaguer Calzadilla
Opera

David Novo Curiel
Félix Curiel Calviño

Optart

Patricia Ramos
Patricia Ramos B&B

David Horta
Pedro Pablo Olive

Patricia Santa Coloma
Producciones Almendares

Gilberto “Papito” Valladares
Camilo Condis Mojena
Proyecto Artecorte

Karen Zerquera
Pyxel Solutions Software

Marianela Pérez Benítez
Gilberto Smith Àlvarez
Restaurante Pizzería Pizzanella

Hiram Centelles
Revolico

Carlos Cristobal Marquez Valdes
San Cristobal

Luis Alberto Dueñas
Alfonso Larrea
SCENIUS

Danisvel Rodriguez Perez
Dario Pages Caraballo
Yasmani Ribes Acosta
Davel Lazaro Ramos León
José Pérez Aguilar
Taxistas

Gretel de la Rosa Suárez
Aiette Hernández González
Tin Marin

Ariel Viera
Tissca

Angel Edel Pino Arocha
ToDoDesign

Liber Puente
Tostonet

Víctor Rodríguez Río Seco
Yoanis Franca Badillo
Víctor Bikinis

Celia Mendoza Suárez
Vip2Cuba

Yoilan Fimia
Wydapps Merkat