When Michael Maisel (photo at top) was a child, in Philadelphia, he had a Cuban teacher, María de Orta. With her, he learned to speak Spanish and grew interested in Cuba. Today, Maisel is director of foreign affairs at Engage Cuba, an organization that advocates a lifting of the blockade and the freedom for all Americans to travel to the island and trade with it.
Some describe their members as greedy. “The only thing that hardliners can do is try to stop us,” has said James Williams, its president. The fact is that, 12 months after its founding, Engage Cuba maintains a rising trajectory and seeks to place in a single hand all the force toward the normalization of bilateral relations.
Maisel talked with Progreso Semanal about the group’s task and most immediate outlook.
This month (June) marks one year since the creation of Engage Cuba. How could we summarize its job so far?
We are very enthused, because within that year we have seen the reopening of the embassies in Washington and Havana. Agreements were signed on the environment, postal services, commercial flights and are being discussed about how to coordinate efforts against drug trafficking.