The Brookline Resolution and Meeting with the Ambassador

The Brookline Meeting and Notes on the Town Meeting Cuba Resolution

The Thursday, June 30 afternoon Brookline Meet and Greet with the Cuban Ambassador to the United States in Hunneman Hall of the Main Library was an historical event and at the same time easy going and friendly. Fifteen of us sat around in an oval in the front of the hall, the podium and microphones not used, the lateness of our guests encouraging exchanges among ourselves. With the entrance of the Ambassador, the Second Secretary, and visit organizer Merri Ansara (a Brookline native and BHS graduate), we continued in the same informal conversational way, with lots of space to mill about surrounded by an exhibition of Afro-American golfers.

Click on collage to enlarge — l to r, top to bottom: Ambassador Lianys Torres Rivera greeting Karen Miller and Cole Harrison/MassPeaceAction, around the semi-circle with Tim Ruppert/DSA, State Representative Tommy Vitolo, the Ambassador and Second Secretary Yuliette Tain Domínguez, Sarah Miller MD; Select Board Chair Heather Hamilton, Ambassador Trip Organizer Merri Ansara, Peter Miller presenting a special copy of the resolution; George Abbott White/Town Meeting Members Association and Merri Ansara talking with the Ambassador and Second Secretary; Karen Miller, Tim Ruppert/DSA, Haley Rayburn/DSA, and Karen Miller; the Second Secretary and Dominique Ferdinand, Vice Principal Lawrence School. Photos by Jean-Claude Ferdinand.

After going around for individual introductions, the Ambassador offered brief comments about recent Cuban developments and the unfortunate news coverage that most Americans receive about what’s going on. The most extensive follow-up was the back and forth around her interest in learning more about Brookline and the conversational give and take about the town, its surrounding by Boston, its 63,000 population and form of government, its schools, its progressivism (duly noted as JFK’s birthplace and the home of Michael Dukakis and other people of prominence), the curiosity and implications that with one exception no one present originally came from Brookline. In light of the limited show of hands of those who had visited Cuba, the Ambassador graciously encouraged us to develop a special Brookline delegation since nothing shows the true character and life of the Cuban people and their interest in developing cooperative relations with America more than an in-person visit. She was moving in her acceptance of a framed special copy of the Brookline resolution in light of her visit. It notes the 148-17-44 Town Meeting vote, commented on in various follow-up exchanges where the town’s political culture as well as individual matters were topics, including the Town’s Sister City project with Quezalguaque, Nicaragua and local Cuba events involving Brookline PAX. It looks like a promising beginning to a continued development to our relationship and support work.

Notes on the Resolution

Brookline’s Town Meeting resolution calling for an End to the U.S. Embargo of Cuba was its second since the movement to develop them began in January 2016 in three SF Bay Area cities. Brookline passed its first resolution that spring, making the campaign truly a national one. Since then, more than two dozen municipalities from across the country have followed along with another three dozen other governmental entities. Brookline joins the eight other municipalities that have passed two, as the campaign took up the call for medical collaboration and saving lives together in the fight against Covid-19. is a recognized site for keeping up to date on the national campaign for local resolutions.

The current political situation makes the new resolution especially timely. Not only does Brookline have a new Congressional representative to send the message to, but nationally, the Biden administration is backing away from its continuation and deepening of Trump’s increased sanctions. The President tried to take back his initial exclusion of Cuba (along with Venezuela and Nicaragua) at the Summit of the Americas; he’s re-opened joint immigration talks; the administration is lifting some travel and family remittance restrictions. He’s made a beginning effort to return to his campaign promises to support the Obama-Castro normalization efforts, something to applaud and encourage, and this is a way to do that. The Brookline resolution has been covered in Prensa Latina, the official state news agency of Cuba, as well as by the Venezuela-based TeleSur Network.

At the same time, locally, Cambridge City Council passed its second resolution last year; the Boston City Council resolution is having a public hearing and due to be formally voted on this month; Somerville and other area municipalities are considering resolutions, too. This Brookline resolution supports and contributes to grassroots efforts to build a healthier and more just U.S.-Cuba relationship.

Peter Miller