CDA STATEMENT: CDA launches Cuba Leadership Circle

WASHINGTON—The Center for Democracy in the Americas announced today the launch of its Cuba Leadership Circle, comprised of corporate and individual supporters of U.S. engagement with Cuba. CDA Executive Director Emily Mendrala released the following statement:

“CDA is excited to launch the Cuba Leadership Circle, a dynamic group of thought leaders and champions for engagement. Membership in our Cuba Leadership Circle represents an excellent opportunity for individuals and business leaders to play a role in promoting engagement with Cuba, and to benefit from CDA’s experience and relationships from over a decade of work advocating for engagement.

“CDA’s Cuba Leadership Circle launch coincides with the three-year anniversary of a major U.S. policy shift toward Cuba, one that opened the door for increased commercial and citizen engagement between our two countries. Despite recent regulations by the Trump administration to limit travel to and transactions with Cuba, there remain a number of legal avenues for commercial engagement and travel.

“U.S. engagement with Cuba is in the best interests of U.S. businesses across a multitude of sectors, and the diverse makeup of CDA’s Cuba Leadership Circle founding corporate members shows as much.

“We are proud to help promote commercial and citizen engagement opportunities with the knowledge that they will serve to benefit the Cuban people and increase ties between people in our two countries.”

Collin Laverty, President, Cuba Educational Travel, said:

Engaging with Cuba is popular amongst Americans and Cubans, on and off the island, and in the interests of the United States of America. It promotes US economic development, natural security and cultural, educational, environmental and scientific interests, making America safer and stronger. Two years of dialogue produced more results for the people of our two countries than 55 years of a failed policy, and Americans and Cubans alike deserve progress.

Tessie Aral, President, ABC Charters Inc., an experienced tour operator and charter service provider, said:

“Cuba travel is so important for persons from the U.S. and Cuba. It is a historic time on the island, with flourishing entrepreneurship and the transition to a new President in early 2018.  Exchange between the U.S. traveler and the Cuban people will help both sides toward a better relationship with one of their closest neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. ABC Charters is proud to participate in pushing forward the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, as it helps families, individuals, and the growth of understanding between communities.”

Fernando X. Donayre, Founder, Chief Investment Officer, and Managing Principal of INCA Investments, LLC, a Latin American investment management firm based in Miami, said:

“We have seen and experienced the positive effect that engagement with Cuba has had in bolstering Cuba’s nascent private sector. It has been a positive force in improving the quality of life of the Cuban people.”

Cynthia J. Pasky, CEO of S3, a world leader in staffing solutions, said:

“Cuba has outstanding university programs for IT professionals. There is a great opportunity in the next few years to create jobs in Cuba for Cubans in IT and other professional services.”

Bruce Nierenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Victory Cruise Lines, which offers 5-star all-inclusive cruises to Cuba, said:

“As a 5-star, all-inclusive cruise product, Victory must have destinations that provide provocative and immersive shore experience opportunities. Our cruisers at Victory Cruise Lines are a mature, well-educated demographic who are looking for historical and cultural depth and a peaceful pace to explore and get to know the country and the people of the places we visit.

The Caribbean is a wonderful cornucopia of different histories and backgrounds. But Cuba, as the largest of them all, and having five deep water harbors to receive our ships, provides the most diverse product of them all.

Yes, we are in a bit of a restrictive environment politically these days due to the U.S. embargo on Cuba but the potential is clearly there for Cuba to be the deepest and most dynamic destination in our region. It’s a must for all small ship cruise companies looking for a quality winter market to serve.

We get a great deal of satisfaction in bringing the economic benefit of our passengers not only to Havana, but to the other, smaller destinations in Cuba that large cruise ships cannot visit due to their size. Cuba has it all and we are proud to be an active and willing partner with the people of Cuba.”

More information on the Cuba Leadership Circle, including a full list of members, is available here.



CDA Press Office (202) 234-5506

The Center for Democracy in the Americas, founded in 2006, has led more than 60 trips to Cuba for bipartisan delegations of Members of the U.S. Congress, trade missions for the governors of New York and Virginia, CEOs and trade associations, and leaders in philanthropy, women’s issues, and the arts, including the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. More information about CDA is available on our website.