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February 16, 2021
Contact: Ricardo Herrero
In a newly published policy paper, the Cuba Study Group cites engagement as the best way to advance U.S. national interests, reassert regional leadership, and promote freer, more prosperous future for Cuban people

*Download the policy paper in English
and Spanish versions.* 

Washington/Miami – The Cuba Study Group, a non-partisan organization comprised
of Cuban-American business leaders and young professionals, published a policy
paper on Tuesday calling renewed diplomatic engagement with Cuba vital to
advancing U.S. national interests and to promoting a freer, more prosperous
future for the Cuban people. The policy paper, delivered Tuesday morning to the
White House, is the first comprehensive policy vision delivered to the
Biden Administration by a prominent Cuban American organization
, and
challenges both the United States and Cuban governments to “strive to make the
normalization of relations resilient in order to insulate progress from
unpredictable political cycles.” 

The policy recommendations come just two weeks after the White House asserted
that its efforts on Cuba policy will be grounded in support for democracy and
human rights, and that Cuban-Americans are the best ambassadors for freedom in
Cuba. The white paper, titled U.S.-Cuba Relations in the Biden Era: A
Case for Making Engagement Resilient as a Means of Providing Long-Term Support
for the Cuban People
, which can be downloaded in English and Spanish versions on
our website at,
calls for a new approach at engagement that puts long-term support for the
Cuban people, and their well-being, at the center of U.S.-Cuba relations

“As the new Administration undertakes a review of standing Cuba policies, it’s
important to communicate that simply reversing Trump era actions that unduly
harmed the Cuban people during the last four years won’t be enough,” said
Carlos Saladrigas, Chairman of the Cuba Study Group
. “We believe the Cuban
people at home and abroad hold the keys to more resilient relations between the
United States and Cuba, and should be seen as partners in this effort. That
means both governments must take proactive steps to strengthen ties between
their nations’ civil societies and private sectors over the next four
. Only through deep and transparent socio-economic bonds will we be
able to protect progress toward normalization against cyclical political

The policy paper reaffirms that the United States should continue to highlight
Cuba’s democratic failings and continue to support actors across the Cuban
spectrum working to ensure that greater economic and civic freedoms
are guaranteed on the island. It cautions, however, that “strident
denunciations of the failures of communism and absolutist conditions for
sanctions relief are feeble substitutes for robust diplomacy” like the kind
needed to empower the Cuban people to shape their own destinies.

The policy paper delineates three specific tracks:

  1. Restoring
    Support for the Cuban People as a Policy Priority and Rebuilding Trust
  2. Tackling
    the “Tough Stuff” and Making Normalization Stick Through High-Level,
    Direct Diplomacy
  3. Responding
    to Openness with Openness 

The first track lays out
detailed policy recommendations for rolling back harmful Trump-era policies, as
well as steps for restoring support for the Cuban private sector, resuming
public health cooperation, restarting fundamental diplomatic functions,
rebuilding trust, and better engaging Cuban-Americans as partners. The second
recommends the designation of a special representative to tackle long
unresolved disputes and to move forward on the negotiation of cooperation
agreements. The track third argues for further openness to steps taken by the
Cuban government, which has begun important reforms such as ending its dual
currency and its recent expansion of the private sector. However, the Cuban
government will need to recognize greater rights for its citizens to help
cement progress and increase congressional support for further action on
counterproductive Cuba sanctions or other targeted assistance. 

“While the Cuban government was slow to respond to many of the opportunities
provided by renewed diplomatic relations in 2014, the Cuban people
themselves made significant progress expanding the island’s nascent private
sector and civil society
,” added Ricardo Herrero, CSG Executive Director. “Cuban-Americans
are ready to be constructive partners
, and have long contributed to the
future of the island. The Biden Administration has a window of opportunity to
act, and to do so boldly, but Cuba must also do its part. Failure to lock in
significant progress during the next four years could entrench another
generation on both sides of the Florida Straits
into the patterns of hostility
and suspicion that have defined most of the past seven decades.”

“Cuban-Americans are clamoring for a legal framework that makes it possible
to openly work with and invest alongside Cuban entrepreneurs
, not only to
help them succeed individually but also to bolster the island’s nascent private
sector and improve the island’s economy,” added Karina Duquesne, a Cuba Study
Group Young Professional Member and corporate attorney. “Now that Cuba has
opened up much of its economy to private enterprise, enabling Cuban
entrepreneurs to open bank accounts in the United States and authorizing
American companies to provide business-to-business services to those
entrepreneurs would help build a community of stakeholders vital to
sustaining this new era of engagement