New York, December 17, 2014—Americas Society and Council of the Americas applaud the Cuban government for its humanitarian gesture of releasing USAID contractor Alan Gross five years after his detention. This action removes one of the last obstacles on the road towards a significant improvement of the relations between the two countries and improves the chances for human rights and peaceful political change to take place on the island.
We especially congratulate the administration of President Barack Obama for taking the historic step of normalizing diplomatic relations with the government and the people of Cuba, easing existing restrictions on travel and telecommunications, allowing for limited commerce and financial links to the non-state sector, and charting a new policy that will further empower Cuban people and give much-needed support to its nascent private sector, a policy for which AS/COA has long advocated.
"We greatly welcome this reconfiguration in U.S. policy towards the Americas. The falling oil prices provide the right juncture for us to reframe the discussion at the hemispheric and even the global level," said Americas Society/Council of the Americas President and CEO Susan Segal.
Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at AS/COA and chair of the AS/COA Cuba Working Group, said "This bold move to change a five-decade-old foreign policy that has failed to produce any meaningful outcome is welcome. Far from being a concession, better access to telecommunications equipment, improved contacts with U.S. citizens, and support to independent entrepreneurs will build the pockets of independence, which a half century of U.S.-ordered isolation and the Castro regime’s repression have prevented."
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Americas Society (AS) is the premier organization dedicated to education, debate and dialogue in the Americas. Established by David Rockefeller in 1965, our mission is to foster an understanding of the contemporary political, social and economic issues confronting Latin America, the Caribbean, and Canada, and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the Americas and the importance of the inter-American relationship.
Council of the Americas (COA) is the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.
AS/COA's Cuba Working Group (CWG) includes corporate leaders from the worlds of banking, financial services, energy, telecommunications, hospitality, pharmaceuticals, and law. Working group meetings look at the steps companies can take under current U.S. restrictions to pre-position themselves for future investment. This effort has produced a series of papers on regulations and laws affecting U.S. business activity under the U.S. embargo and in Cuba.