LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR: Your Chance to Shape Cuba Policy

From Emily Mendrala, Executive Director

Dear Friends of CDA:

It is with the utmost enthusiasm that I write you to introduce myself to you as the new Executive Director of this fabulous organization – and to ask for your support!

I have worked for the last several years of my career – at the White House, State Department, and Congress – to achieve normalized relations with Cuba. I had the honor to help plan and participate in President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba in March 2016, and I am eager to continue the important work of advancing U.S. policy toward Cuba as Executive Director of CDA!

For over a decade, the Center for Democracy in the Americas has worked tirelessly to break down barriers through engagement. Under the leadership of founding Executive Director Sarah Stephens, CDA led more than 60 trips to Cuba and 35 congressional, often bipartisan, delegations, building powerful connections between the U.S. and Cuba that have helped bring both countries closer together. Sarah will maintain her affiliation with CDA, but will continue her work on Cuba in her new role as Director of the Atlantic Fellows Platform for Innovation and Narrative.

CDA needs your support during this exciting transition! Cuba policy matters and it matters now.

Why now? Consider the stakes:

  • President Trump’s approach to Cuba policy is being developed at the White House right now.
  • In Congress, engagement with Cuba enjoys growing bipartisan support thanks in large part to our advocacy over the last 10 years.
  • In less than a year, Cuba is set to undergo a leadership change when President Raúl Castro steps down and his successor steps up.
  • With transitions taking place in Washington and Havana, a decision to restrict travel, rescind opportunities for trade, or reverse the process of normalizing relations would set back diplomacy for years and inflict real damage on the Cuban people and on our citizens as well.

What we can do. A fully-funded CDA is needed at this moment so we can play our decisive role shaping U.S. policy.

  • Just this year, CDA brought four new Republican House Members to Cuba, all of whom returned as strong supporters of engagement.
  • We have introduced business groups and elected officials to senior leaders of Cuba’s government to encourage bilateral engagement, and we have shared our policy analysis with White House officials.
  • With your support, we can bring more Members of Congress and more corporate leaders to Cuba to lay the groundwork for further engagement, while also exerting greater leadership in Washington to keep this policy on course.

Just over one year ago, I was in Havana’s Gran Teatro when President Obama spoke to the Cuban people, offering a “saludo de paz” – a greeting of peace. He lamented that, although Havana is only 90 miles away from the U.S., “to get here, we had to travel a great distance – over barriers of history and ideology; barriers of pain and separation.” Though U.S.-Cuba relations have come a long way, we still have many more miles to travel.

Please consider a recurring financial contribution to CDA! Your support is invaluable to our advocacy and educational efforts, and your continuous support will allow us to continue our important work. You can give online via this link; mail your check to: CDA, P.O. Box 53106, Washington, D.C. 20009; or call María at 202-234-5506 for us to process your payment over the phone.

Thank you for your support.


Emily Mendrala
Executive Director

Your continuous support will allow us to continue our important work. Please consider making a contribution today! You can give online via this link or mail your check to: CDA, P.O. Box 53106, Washington, D.C. 20009.