Felicidades, new Mayor Vidal and Denver

Bill Vidal is a Cuban American, who just got elected as the new mayor of Denver. I would like to congratulate him!

I connected with him by phone through the network of national advocates in support of the End the Travel Ban on Cuba for all U.S. Americans.

At the time, I was working as the Cuba policy outreach coordinator at the Washington Office on Latin America, but working with a coalition of organizations based in D.C., in efforts to open relations with Cuba and specifically to educate and advocate for lifting the travel restrictions for all to Cuba.

I somehow through one contact in Denver got in touch with another, who then put me in touch with Vidal’s book editor. At the time, Vidal was Deputy Mayor and had already completed his memoir “Boxing for Cuba“.

I sent an email to his editor to pass forward, asking if the Deputy Mayor was interested in learning more about U.S.-Cuba policy and specially legislation that was introduced in the 111th Congress, known as the “Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act”.  He wrote me back openly and we set up a call.  We spoke for quite a while, as I do when speaking on U.S.-Cuba relations. We shared many views and he shared his compelling story with me about being a Pedro Pan.

As my correspondence with Vidal continued, I asked him to participate as a delegate from Colorado to join around 70 other “community stakeholder” advocates from across the country in our national CubaGO Day on September 30, 2009. Delegations from across the U.S. descended on Capitol Hill to meet with their respective members of Congress to urge them to support the Freedom to Travel Act. Mr. Vidal met other another Pedro Pan from Miami that participated as well.

He was one of so many very inspiring advocates for change in policy that I had the pleasure to dialog and work with as the Cuba policy outreach coordinator (based in D.C.). It was the “grassroots” that kept me balanced, optimistic, and motivated to keep up the good fight for change in U.S. policy toward Cuba.

Felicidades, Mayor Vidal and Denver!