Letter to Obama on Cuba
In March 2009 Soffer and several others wrote to president Barack Obama, urging him to lift restrictions on Cuba;
- Dear President Obama:
- We are artists, arts presenters, arts educators, cultural entrepreneurs and scholars, and cultural heritage and policy professionals from diverse political persuasions. We have been adversely affected by the cultural embargo imposed by the U.S. government against both Cuban and American artists and cultural institutions. We are writing to request that you make concrete changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba that will allow for the uninhibited flow of art, culture, information, ideas and debates, as well as travel by artists, cultural workers and professionals, and arts and cultural aficionados between the two countries. U.S. policies towards Cuba worsened many times over by the previous administration and criticized throughout the world have prevented us from engaging in critical communication and collaboration with our Cuban counterparts, compromising our nation s cherished ideals of freedom of expression and preventing cultural interchange between two societies that share a historic relationship lasting over two centuries.
- One year ago, we requested policy changes from the Bush Administration so that respectful, critical dialogue and principled exchange could take place between the peoples of Cuba and the U.S. and our respective governments. Our petition fell on deaf ears. As citizens, artists, scholars, educators and cultural workers from all artistic practices and from advocacy and service organizations in the arts, we now call upon your Administration to:
- 1. open a respectful dialogue with the government and people of Cuba in accord with established protocols supported by the community of nations;
- 2. end the travel ban that prevents U.S. citizens from visiting Cuba, and allow for Cuban artists and scholars to visit the United States, thus eliminating the censorship of art and ideas, and
- 3. initiate, by working with the U.S. Congress, a process that can result in the development of normal, respectful bilateral relations between our countries. The artistic and cultural communities in the U.S. and in Cuba are catalysts of imagination and creativity. We are committed to serve as bridges for our fellow citizens. Now, we need our government to take leadership and re-open the pathways of exchange.
- We look forward to working with you to advance the interests of the U.S. and of Cuba.
- Bernard Rubenstein, Conductor, Copland/Gershwin New Music Group, Santa Fe, NM
- Isabel Soffer, World Music Institute, New York, NY
- Rob Gibson, Executive & Artistic Director, Savannah Music Festival, Savannah, GA
- Ann Rosenthal, Executive Director, MultiArts Projects & Productions, New York, NY
- Jose Griego, Ph.D., President, Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM
- Erica D. Zielinski, General Manager, Lincoln Center Festival, New York, NY