Sunday, February 21, 2016

At center of U.S.-Cuba relationship is America's core principle of opportunity

Opinion: At center of U.S.-Cuba relationship is America's core principle
of opportunity
By James WilliamsPublished February 19, 2016 Fox News Latino

With the White House's announcement that President Obama will be
visiting Cuba in March, President Obama will become the second sitting
American president after Calvin Coolidge to visit Cuba in nine decades.
This historic announcement provides the opportunity not only to help
define President Obama's legacy, but to also prove that two countries
once divided by generations of strife can come together through
diplomacy to support the American and Cuban people.

President Obama's visit comes at a pivotal moment for our country. At a
time of heightened political divisiveness in and out of Washington on
nearly every issue, support for a new Cuba policy cuts through tired
party politics. Seventy-two percent of Americans from both parties agree
that it's time for Congress to end the embargo and open the U.S. up for
business and travel with our Cuban neighbors. The Cuban people
overwhelmingly support this as well, as 97 percent of them favor ending
the embargo.

This agreement among Americans on both sides of the aisle, and in rural
areas and cities alike, is why we launched Engage Cuba, a bipartisan
coalition dedicated to ending the Cuban travel and trade embargo. We
work with local community leaders and business people from across the
country who can envision a future with renewed U.S.-Cuba diplomatic
relations and can see the increased economic activity that comes with
it. It is amazing to see bipartisan leaders across diverse sectors in
states such as Tennessee and Ohio come together through Engage Cuba
State Councils to stand united in their support for ending the Cuban
embargo, and because of the possibilities ahead, that support will only
continue to grow.

Renewed U.S.-Cuba relations is appealing to Americans because at the
center of this burgeoning relationship is the core American principle of
opportunity. Engagement with Cuba presents numerous prospects for U.S.
businesses and the Cuban people. According to the Peterson Institute for
International Economics, trade with Cuba could generate $4.3 billion in
American exports.

There is ample room for American businesses across all sectors to gain a
foothold in the Cuban market, especially in agriculture. Cuba imports 80
percent of its food from far away countries such as Brazil and
Argentina. But if the embargo were to be lifted, Cubans could instead
import fresh and nutritious food from its close neighbor, the United
States, and American farmers could bring their products to a largely
untapped market while delivering quality, affordable food to the Cuban

This is just one of the many economic opportunities President Obama will
witness when he visits Cuba. With the need for infrastructure
investment, telecommunications expansion and so much more, each day the
U.S. cannot trade with Cuba is a missed opportunity. The current embargo
halts job growth and economic development in places that need it most —
both in Cuba and here in America. But these changes are not solely the
responsibility of the U.S. In order to build on this diplomatic moment,
Cuba has to do its part to continue to open its economy and support
greater economic ties with the United States.

As the President embarks on his first visit to Cuba, and opens up
additional possibilities to engage with Cuba in the future, he is
continuing the significant progress made over the last year. Just
recently, the U.S. and Cuba reached an agreement to commence commercial
flights for the first time in 50 years. In a short time, millions of
Americans will have the opportunity to visit Cuba and soak in its rich
and vibrant culture. And just this week, U.S. and Cuban trade officials
met to discuss additional regulatory changes that can be made to support
trade and commerce.

So we should celebrate President Obama's trip to Cuba as a historic
moment, one that seeks to put an end to the conflict and tension that
defined the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba for decades. After
years of a failed policy, it is time for our country to engage with Cuba
and ensure our foreign policy encourages opportunity that is good for
both Americans and Cubans.

James Williams is the President of Engage Cuba, the leading coalition of
private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade
embargo on Cuba.

Source: Opinion: At center of U.S.-Cuba relationship is America's core
principle of opportunity | Fox News Latino -

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