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Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes Meets With Cuban Activists In Miami, During A “Historic” Meeting

Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes Meets With Cuban Activists In Miami, During A
“Historic” Meeting / 14ymedio, Marion Penton
Posted on March 11, 2016

14ymedio, Mario Penton, Miami, 11 March 2016 – Obama’s top
advisor on US policy toward Cuba, Ben Rhodes, met this Friday with
representatives from the island’s Civil Society and exile organizations.
The meeting took place in Miami, concluding with a chat with
Cuban-Americans that the official held at Miami Dade College.

The purpose of the meeting, which lasted several hours behind closed
doors, was for Rhodes to listen to the aspirations and opinions of those
groups in advance of President Obama’s visit to the island. Several of
those attending agreed that the meeting was an “historic moment.”

Remberto Perez, vice president of the Cuban National Foundation ()
in New Jersey, explained that everyone expressed their points of view
regarding the national reality before the US president’s visit. “It is a
unique and extraordinary opportunity. The fact that we are doing this is
a sign that the work of the internal and exiled dissidence has borne
fruit,” he said.

Opposition member Martha , a member of the Black Spring’s
Group of 75, confirmed that she will not meet with the US president, as
speculated in some media. “It is not necessary that Obama receive me
because I have been able to express my concerns to Ben Rhodes,” and she
added, “I am super satisfied with this meeting,” said the , who
will not be on the island during the president’s visit because she is
going to be traveling to .

Leticia Ramos, a representative of the Ladies in White from Matanzas
province, announced that Obama sent a letter to the organization and
expressed his desire to meet with them in Havana. “So far we have high
expectations and the president has informed us that he wants to meet
with us,” said Ramos. Although she said they are “facing an uncertainty”
because “the regime is going to prevent it at all costs” and “the
arbitrary arrests will be massive to avoid this meeting.”

The Ladies in White have let Rhodes know that the visit should be
directed “truly by the Cuban people” and he should try to ensure that
“his speech reaches ordinary Cubans.” Initially, the position of the
Ladies in White had been very critical of Obama’s visit to the island.
With regards to the letter sent by the president, no details are
available because “it was sent sealed” to Berta Soler, the
representative of the organization.

The youngest activist at the meeting, Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, national
coordinator of the Youth Front of the Patriotic Union of Cuban (UNPACU),
told this newspaper that “the meeting surprised all of us in the most
positive way,” because “we thought we would be coming to explain to
Obama’s advisor the reality of the Cuban people, but to our surprise he
knows it very well.”

Oliva Torres agrees with the rest of those present that it was an
“historic” meeting and, in his opinion, “there was very good
communication, great harmony between our approaches and his responses.”

“We are all demanding the same thing: we want the American president to
go to Cuba and direct his discourse to the people of Cuba, not to the
government,” said the UNPACU member.

The meeting was moderated by Jorge Mas Santos, president of the CANF,
who praised the attitude of “these brave men and women (…) who keep
alive the flame of hope on the island.” The Cuban-American extended his
appreciation to the White House and stressed that meetings like this
show that “beyond the Straits of Florida that separate us, we are one

Mas Santos said that “President Obama’s advisor was able to listen to
you directly, your dreams, your aspirations, the totalitarian nature of
a regime that has oppressed our island for more than five decades, and
through your suggested this liberating message can reach the mouth of
President Obama on his visit to Cuba.”

Source: Obama Advisor Ben Rhodes Meets With Cuban Activists In Miami,
During A “Historic” Meeting / 14ymedio, Marion Penton | Translating Cuba

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