JG: United States Representative Gerald E. Connolly is a United States Representative elected to Congress from the 11th district of Virginia. He is a member of the Democratic Party. He also has the dubious distinction of being one of the Infamous 53, a group of Congressmen who recently wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing the freedom to travel to Cuba for all Americans.
One of his constituents recently wrote an open letter to him. It was published by the digital edition of The Fairfax Times.
We reproduce below the open letter.
Open letter to U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Dist. 11):
As the son of a Cuban immigrant and a constituent of the 11th District of Virginia who voted in favor of your candidacy in 2008, I was very surprised to see that you co-signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 3 supporting the current failed U.S. policy toward Cuba. As a supportive constituent, I was equally disturbed to learn that you received $2,000 in campaign donations from the ultra-conservative U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC that supports our country's five-decade-old blockade of Cuba which has only caused hardship and misery upon the Cuban people and has not succeeded in getting the Castro brothers to reform Cuba's communist system or relinquish power. On the contrary, America's counterproductive policy has emboldened them and perpetuated their continued iron-fisted control of the island.
I was also disappointed to see the drafters of this letter so clearly misrepresent President Barack Obama's policy vis-a-vis Cuba. The drafters mislead Speaker Pelosi by claiming that "President Obama has demonstrated his support for the remaining sanctions." In truth, Obama has publicly favored a policy of constructive engagement with the Cuban government. He has liberalized travel restrictions and recommenced diplomatic discussions with Cuban officials. Obama has also taken steps to alleviate tension with Cuba by turning off a sign atop the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana that used to display anti-government messages, and by arresting and prosecuting Luis Posada-Carrilles, the alleged mastermind behind the bombing of a Cuban passenger airliner that claimed 76 innocent lives in 1976. It is, therefore, deceptive to claim that Obama supports the current sanctions policy against Cuba.
In order to support positive democratic change in Cuba, I hope you will: (1) return the funds you received from the ultra-rightist U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC; (2) un-sign your signature from the Nov. 3 letter; and (3) become a co-sponsor of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (HR 874) which currently has 179 co-sponsors in the House and 33 in the Senate. The position that I espouse is more in tune with the views of your constituency and the American public at large which, according to polling data, overwhelmingly favors an end of the embargo and the travel ban.
Daniel Rubiera Zim, Vienna
JG: Bravo Mr. Rubiera Zim! Very well said! But you do have one factual mistake in your open letter. Barack Obama does favor the continuation of the genocidal Cuba embargo/blockade.
That criminal enterprise has inflicted death and suffering among the Cuban people and has caused over $96 billion dollars in damages to the island's economy. Barack Obama is continuing those sanctions.