We at CODEPINK are delighted to finally see a thawing of relations between the US and Cuba. For decades, US policy towards Cuba has been determined by a small group of Cuban-Americans frozen in a Cold War mentality. It is exciting to see an historic breakthrough, with President Obama listening to the voices of the majority of Americans who want to see a lifting of the half-century embargo that has prevented normal trade and cultural exchanges and put the US at odds with the rest of the world.
We applaud the freeing of Alan Gross in exchange for the release of the three Cuban prisoners (known collectively as the Cuban 5), who were actually trying to prevent terrorism and should have never been imprisoned. We also applaud the easing of travel and trade restrictions.
We understand that President Obama will have to face opposition from congresspeople who will try to stop the opening of an Embassy and a total lifting of the embargo. We hope that the majority of Congress—both Democrats and Republicans—will agree that lifting the embargo is good for the peoples of both nations and we look forward to the day when relations are totally normalized.
Another good step in improving US-Cuban relations, and the US image worldwide, would be to close the Guantanamo prison. It is an affront to the Cuban people to have this detention center on their soil.
We thank President Obama for this long overdue move. Today’s announcement was a great step for diplomacy.
Medea Benjamin is cofounder of the peace group www.CODEPINK.org