Research: Publications

Election 2012: What Cuban Americans Stand to Lose

October 17, 2012 | Conference Report

By Elizabeth Newhouse

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The next four years could initiate an approach to U.S. Cuba policy that is either “virtuous” or “vicious” depending on who is elected president, said panelist Arturo Lopez-Levy at the October 4 conference in Miami, hosted by the Center for International Policy, on the importance of voting to engagement with Cuba. Held at the historic Tower Theater in the heart of Little Havana—a first for such an event— the conference highlighted for Cuban Americans how much is likely to be lost if President Obama’s policies on Cuba—unlimited family visits and remittances for Cuban Americans, “purposeful” travel for others—are supplanted by those of a Romney administration.

Governor Romney has promised that if elected he would revert to the George W. Bush rules: Cuban- American family visits only once every three years, very limited remittances, and the end of people-to- people travel. A return to such a stringent policy would bring back the question for Cuban Americans of “did you want to go see them before they died, or did you want to go to their funeral?” said panelist Tessie Aral, president of ABC Travel.

A “virtuous” Cuba policy, explained Lopez-Levy, would not only preserve and expand such engage- ment, but it would also help create conditions for greater openness inside Cuba. A “vicious” policy that goes back to the Bush era, on the other hand, would further isolate the country and hinder reform. Lawyer Tony Zamora, another panelist, believes that three more years of Obama’s travel and remit- tance policies will “change the whole ball game” in Cuba.

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