Letter to the Editor, New York Times

"Relations with Cuba"

To the Editor:

Re "U.S. Halts Cuban Immigration Talks; Worsening of Ties
Seen" (news article, Jan. 8):

Reunifying fragmented families on both sides of the Florida
Straits requires that the governments of the United States
and Cuba maintain a constructive approach toward discussing
issues like migration. The Bush administration's decision
to suspend semiannual talks jeopardizes reunification
efforts and introduces a conditionality that threatens to
asphyxiate the already limited avenue for humanitarian and
cultural activity between the two countries.

Last fall, the Cuban government announced that starting in
early 2004, Cuban-Americans wishing to visit the island
would no longer be required to have visas. This act,
however limited in its actual positive impact, is a
significant symbolic step forward and should be met by the
Bush administration as a legitimate reason for salvaging
the few remaining channels of communication with Cuba.

East Hampton, N.Y., Jan. 12, 2004
The writer is president and chairwoman, Fundación Amistad, a group promoting U.S.-Cuban relations.