June 11, 2017
President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We write to you, as American scholars and educators, to express our concern about a possible reversal of our nation’s improving relations with Cuba, specifically in the area of travel, due to political pressure from elected officials in Florida and New Jersey. Since you ran for office on an America First platform, we wish to share with you that we vigorously oppose such a reversal as it is not in the best interests of the United States.
We represent all segments of the political spectrum from Left to Right. We also represent all disciplinary fields, from education to journalism to law to history to biology. For the most part, we have been conducting scholarly and critical research, publishing, and producing audiovisual works about Cuba for many years.
We urge you to consider the following:
It is perfectly legal for American citizens to travel to North Korea, which routinely threatens to destroy us, without any U.S. government restrictions. Is it not an anti-American policy to restrict freedom of movement and therefore inhibit travel to Cuba, even as we permit it to a sworn enemy of the U.S.? As U.S. citizens, we deeply resent a situation in which our own Constitutional rights to travel and conduct business are being inhibited by ideologues in Congress.
The Cuban President, Mr. Raúl Castro, has already announced his impending retirement in 2018. Further pressure from the United States might make it more difficult for him to do so. Cuban nationalism is stronger than other ideological allegiances. Rapprochement and people-to-people travel have already made a dent in mutually antagonistic nationalism by bringing people together. Changing course will negatively affect this process.
Change in Cuba comes from within. According to the latest statistics, Cuba already has more than a half million people who are self-employed, and that number is growing. The U.S. should continue to share business knowledge and encourage investment in those independent enterprises.
A reversal of U.S.-Cuba policy will have hemispheric consequences. It will alienate the U.S. from friendly Latin American nations that favor engagement with Cuba as a means to gradual change. It will also harm U.S. and non-U.S. businesses that are taking advantage of the current opening, leading to loss of revenue and jobs.
We respectfully urge you to continue on a path that expands transnational education, business, travel, scientific and humanistic research, and people-to-people exchange with Cuba. It is not just about the freedom of the Cuban people. It is about ours.