Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My letter to Secretary Gutierrez

Dear Secretary Gutierrez,

You are quoted in the Miami Herald today:

''It's hard to understand -- hard -- how they put politics ahead of suffering,''

We agree that Cuba should be more flexible about receiving US hurricane assistance. However, I also think that Washington is putting politics ahead of suffering at least as much as Havana.

FRD has circulated on line the following letter to the President which currently has about 950 signers, many of whom are Cuban American. I encourage you to review the list and browse through the comments

Because of the devastation suffered by Cuba from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and the history of conflict and suspicion between our countries, creative means must be found to enable the traditional compassion of Americans to express itself in assistance to the Cuban people in a timely fashion.

We urge an immediate 180 day suspension by Presidential order, or by legislation, of Treasury and Commerce Department restrictions and licensing requirements for humanitarian travel and remittances by all Americans and assistance from not-for-profit organizations granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.

Only such an action can liberate the caring and generosity of hundreds of thousands of Americans with personal links to Cuba and depoliticize the means of transmittal and acceptance. It will create a different atmosphere between our countries that makes the practical details of government to government aid far easier to negotiate.

Without this kind of paradigm changing breakthrough, officials of both countries will continue to posture and score points with their respective audiences, and the Cuban people will pay the price.


John McAuliff


John McAuliff
Executive Director
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
145 Palisade Street, Suite 401
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522

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