Let’s transcend partisan politics on Cuba

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Editor’s note: This piece was updated after publication as new information about the policy changes became public. 

Almost 55 years to the day that my father and his brothers in arms were abandoned in the Bay of Pigs invasion, I launched my own Cuba journey along with three friends, with the goal of building a brighter and more hopeful for our generation and the ones to come.

Over the last 14 months, Daniel Jimenez, Cherie Cancio, Andrew Jimenez, and I have dedicated our lives to nurturing, growing, and perfecting the CubaOne Foundation—the epitome of a passion project.

As President Trump visits Miami today to unveil his Cuba policy, I think about how far Miami has come. Consider the following:

  • It used to be illegal to visit your family in Cuba more than once every three years. Yet as of the writing of this column, over 2,000 people have applied to our program. Millennials are hugging abuelos, primos, tios, and tias for the first time
  • Going to Cuba no longer = supporting Castro. The island actually has a private sector now and Miamians have played a critical role in its development through increased travel and seed capital in the form of remittances.
  • Cubans are less dependent on the state than ever before. The island’s private sector workforce grew by over 300 percent over the last six years and these young cuenta-propistas are driving important changes in their country.
  • Miami is more aware than ever about the plight of the black, LGBTQ, and disabled Cubans on the island (thanks in no small part to the work of groups like Coming Out Cuba).
  • Young Americans and Cubans are engaged in artistic, educational, and entrepreneurial collaborations across a network that spans well beyond 90 miles.
  • Schools like Miami-Dade College and FIU are collaborating with Cuban universities, investing in Cuban entrepreneurs, and supporting education exchange programs.

While it’s unrealistic to expect decades of issues to be resolved in just two years, it’s undeniable that progress has been made. That doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. More can be done. Human rights must be addressed. Nobody should ever be beaten up or thrown out of school for thinking differently. It should also be easier for Cubans to visit their own country without paying high fees for passports that disproportionately penalize working families.

Earlier this week, CubaOne sent President Trump a letter outlining our vision for a pro-family policy where we asked him to address some of these issues and others. Based on initial reports, we are pleased that the Administration has decided not roll back travel and remittances rights for Cuban Americans. Doing so would have been disastrous for our community and harmed Cuban people. We’re also encouraged by the news that the President has decided not to cancel diplomatic relations or shut down our embassy, which plays an important role in promoting our country’s values.

The White House said today that moving forward, Americans will continue to be allowed to travel to Cuba, so long as they reside in family homes, such as the ones on Airbnb, and dine in privately-owned establishments. This will increase support for the island’s private sector. Editor’s note: This paragraph was added after publication after Sen. Marco Rubio clarified some points about the new policy.


While it’s all well and good that the plan won’t do certain things, we also need to be proactive and practical. To that end, the White House said today that moving forward, Americans will not be allowed to engage in financial transactions with tourist entities (such as hotels and restaurants) that are owned by Cuba’s military. This will certainly stir applauses in Little Havana today, but it remains to be seen how this regulation will be enforced.

Regardless of where you stand in the political spectrum or whether or not you’re of Cuban heritage, it’s important for our generation to be engaged in this debate, ask tough questions, and demand more than platitudes. Our community’s future is inextricably linked to Cuba — as is the Cuban people’s to Miami. We owe it to them, our families, and ourselves to transcend partisan politics. We have come a long way to do anything less.