Cuban-American Corporate Leaders Sign "Commitment to Freedom"

Monday, June 25, 2012
Prominent Cuban Exile Corporate Leaders Warn of Castro’s “Cosmetic Reforms”

Over a dozen former Fortune 500 senior executives and other multinational business leaders urge support for the Cuban pro-democracy movement and reaffirm their commitment to help the economic reconstruction of a free Cuba.

Washington, D.C. - Prominent Cuban exile business and corporate leaders released today a document entitled “Commitment to Freedom”, rejecting business ties with Cuba while the island remains under totalitarian rule. However, they are committed to helping in the reconstruction of their homeland when freedom dawns.

The signatories are former senior executives from Dow Chemical, General Mills, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Colgate-Palmolive, Bacardi, American Express Bank, PepsiCo, Warner Communications, Reynolds Metals, Continental Bank International, Martin Marietta Aluminum, Amex Nickel Corporation, as well as the head of Jazztel and other distinguished business leaders.

The signees of the document warn against the Castro regime’s deceptive campaign to secure U.S. capital infusion and bank credits, and lure some Cuban-American businessmen, without ushering in a true economic and political opening. The reforms introduced so far are mostly cosmetic, heavily-taxed and revocable, and offer no legal protection or investment return.

To neutralize the opposition, both inside Cuba and abroad, the signers assert that the regime is promoting “reconciliation”, with the apparent backing of the Catholic Church hierarchy, but only as a smokescreen to intensify repression. Peaceful human rights activists are systematically harassed and arrested.

Instead of bailing out the failed and ruthless regime, the document calls for support of the leaders of the growing pro-democracy movement in Cuba. They, and not their oppressors, should receive international recognition, financial resources and communications technology to carry out their heroic struggle.

Here is the letter:

COMMITMENT TO FREEDOM

We, the undersigned, Cuban exiles with deep roots in U.S. and international corporations, institutions and business communities, wish to convey our great concern regarding the Castro regime’s deceptive campaign aimed at securing much-needed financial resources to prolong its iron grip over the people of Cuba.

The regime is facing the severest financial crisis since the early 1990s, compounded by the possible loss of its Venezuelan life line. But instead of ushering in a true economic and political opening that would unleash the entrepreneurial skills of the Cuban people and attract foreign capital, it has only introduced non-systemic, heavily-taxed, revocable reforms with no legal protection or investment return. To stay afloat, the regime is pursuing a three-pronged strategy:

First, it is trying to induce the U.S. to lift or further weaken the embargo to funnel tourist dollars and bank credits to the bankrupt island--a bailout under the guise of constructive engagement.

Second, it has apparently enlisted the support of the Catholic Church hierarchy in Cuba to promote “reconciliation” under the current totalitarian system, while continuing to hound, beat and arrest peaceful opponents and human rights activists across the island.

Third, it is seeking to divide and neutralize the Cuban-American community, and lure some of its businessmen, by selling the fallacious concept that there is no solution to Cuba’s predicament other than supporting cosmetic reforms without liberty and democracy.

We reject that outrageous proposition, since for us, and for most Cuban-Americans, there is no substitute for freedom. We believe that, absent the dismantling of the totalitarian apparatus on the island, along with the unconditional release of all political prisoners and the restoration of fundamental human rights, there should be no U.S. unilateral concessions to the Castro regime.

The future of the island-nation lies not with the current failed, octogenarian rulers, but with the leaders of the growing pro-democracy movement. They, and not their oppressors, are worthy of receiving international recognition, financial resources and communications technology to carry out their heroic struggle.

We pledge our continued support to them--the vanguard of the emerging civil society--and look forward to helping in the reconstruction of the island where we were born, but only when the Cuban people can enjoy the blessings of freedom we cherish and they deserve.

SIGNATORIES OF “COMMITMENT TO FREEDOM”

Manuel Jorge Cutillas, Fr. Chairman and CEO, BACARDI
Sergio Masvidal, Fr. Vice Chairman, AMERICAN EXPRESS BANK
Enrique Falla, Fr. EVP and CFO, DOW CHEMICAL
Eduardo Crews, Fr. President, Latin America, BRISTOL-MEYERS SQUIBB
Emilio Alvarez-Recio, Fr. VP. Worldwide Advertising, COLGATE-PALMOLIVE
Néstor Carbonell, Fr. VP International Government Affairs, PEPSICO
Alberto Mestre, Fr. President, Venezuela, GENERAL MILLS
Rafael de la Sierra, Fr. VP International Coordination WARNER COMMUNICATIONS (now Time Warner)
Eugenio Desvernine, Fr. Senior EVP, REYNOLDS METALS
José R. Bou, Fr. VP Primary Products Operation, MARTIN MARIETTA ALUMINUM
Alberto Luzárraga, Fr. Chairman, CONTINENTAL BANK INTERNATIONAL
Remedios Diaz-Oliver, Fr. Director of U.S. WEST and BARNETT BANK
Leopoldo Fernández-Pujals, Chairman JAZZTEL; Founder of TELEPIZZA
Jorge Blanco, Fr. President & CEO, AMEX NICKEL CORPORATION.
Carlos Gutierrez, Fr. U.S. SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
Mel Martinez, Fr. U.S. SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT