Engage Cuba Calls on 2020 Democratic Candidates to Share Cuba Policy Platforms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates prepare to take the debate stage for the first time in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday, Engage Cuba calls on the candidates to articulate their plans for improving U.S. policy toward Cuba.

“We call on the presidential candidates to offer their own vision on how to support the Cuban people and not follow the same failed policies of the Trump administration. The presidential debate in Miami, home to more than one million Cuban Americans, is the perfect place for this discussion to take place. The Cuban people need our help. It’s time we have a president who stands up for them,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba.

The nascent Cuban private sector has seen more than a 40% decline in bookings due to decreased U.S. travel under President Trump. The space for civil society and debate in Cuba has tightened. Cuban families are being divided as the United States has stopped consular services in Havana and is slow-walking family reunification visas and legal migration. Moscow and Beijing are taking advantage of waning American presence and expanding their influence.

“After more than 50 years of continuing a failed embargo policy, the United States finally began a new approach under the Obama administration. Normalizing relations led to significant progress in the growth of the Cuban private sector, internet access and space for civil society. Millions of Americans visited the island, and helped provide hope for the Cuban people and jump-start private enterprise. American companies got access to a new market creating jobs and revenue for our workers. Now, under President Trump we have returned to the same failed embargo policies of the last 50 years and the Cuban and American people are paying the price,” said Williams.

“Ultimately, change in Cuba needs to come from the Cuban government, but United States policy should not be making it harder. The Cuban people are not political pawns to be used to score points in an election. They are human beings.”

Twenty-three out of twenty-five candidates have previously taken public positions in support of engagement with Cuba. The remaining two -- Cory Booker and Wayne Messam -- have not taken a public position.

“We call on the remaining two candidates to tell the voters where they stand,” said Williams.

The Cuban-American vote in South Florida has been shifting toward the Democratic Party. Exit polls show that in 2000, George W. Bush won 75% of the Cuban-American vote and 71% in 2004. In 2008, John McCain won 65%. By 2012, Mitt Romney virtually tied Barack Obama with between 47-52% of the Cuban vote. President Trump won between 52-54% in 2016. This is a more than 20% point swing toward the Democrats in the last 20 years.

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