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May 27, 2010

Dear Friend of Global Exchange,

We've never been so close!!

Now is the time to put our time, energy, and wits into wringing every possible YES vote for H.R. 4645 -- our latest version of the "Freedom to Travel to Cuba" Bill, now known as the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act.

This bill restores our right to travel to Cuba and lifts restrictions on agricultural sales to Cuba. It will be voted on in the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture in less than 2 weeks -- early in the week of June 1.

If it passes out of the Agriculture Committee, it will move right to the Floor of the House that same week. Speaker Pelosi has indicated she will work to bring every possible reluctant Democrat on board.

This is the best opportunity we've had in years to end the Cuba travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and may well be our last chance for the next several years.

What does the bill do again? Restore the right for every U.S. citizen to travel to Cuba, as well as help U.S. farmers to put food on Cubans' tables! In addition this legislation would create an estimated 6,000 jobs here in the U.S. and could bring millions of dollars into the U.S. economy within the first year.

We are being told by our D.C. colleagues that this bill WILL PASS in the Senate with 62 YES votes! And we now have 205 YES votes in the House! We need at least 218! That's right! We need only an additional 13 votes in the House of Representatives to pass this legislation in the U.S. Congress, a truly unprecedented opportunity!

BUT we have less than two weeks to get those 13 YES votes! Here are the swing votes, the undecided representatives, 13 of whom must be persuaded to vote YES on H.R.4645. If you are a constituent of one of these representatives, or know someone who is, you are in a powerful position to help pass this Bill!

To pass H.R. 4645, we need your best, most tenacious activism in the coming week! How can you help make our long-held dream a reality?

1) Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your congressperson's office.

2) Once the office is on the line, ask to speak with the Legislative Director.

a.) Ask if the Congressperson is supporting H.R. 4645, and if so, thank him/her, and ask him/her to work to educate reluctant colleagues on the importance of H.R. 4645 during the next week. If the Legislative Director isn't available, leave a voice message asking for co-sponsorship of HR 4645 and for him/her to call you back.

b.) If your congressperson has not yet become a supporter or co-sponsor of H.R. 4645, we ask that you take a few extra steps: * EMAIL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON. Scroll down the page to the link, add your zip code, then follow the simple instructions. He/she needs to hear from you now!

* Immediately after you hit the send button, pick up the phone and CALL YOUR CONGRESSPERSON at (202) 224-3121. Follow the steps described above, and use this message:

"Hello, my name is ____________ and I'm a constituent of Representative ____________. I'm calling to ask my representative to vote in favor of H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which will restore my right as a U.S. citizen to travel to Cuba. The bill will also help U.S. farmers send agricultural products to Cuba, creating more than 6,000 U.S. jobs and help put food on Cuban's tables. I respect that Representative ____________ has taken his/her time to consider this issue, but, respectfully, it's time for him/her to move to the YES vote side. Please call me back right away at (your phone number) to let me know how my representative will vote."

3. Help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your in-district friends, family, and colleagues. Include a personal note letting them know why this issue is important to you. Ask that they, too, email and call your congressperson's office.

4. Forward this letter to any businesspeople, farmers and farmers associations, travel agents and travel agencies, municipal and church leaders, or other influential constituents who'd be willing to weigh in with your congressperson. Include your personal request and stress the urgency of their activism at this time.

5. If you hear back from your congressperson, please pass that information along to pam@globalexchange.org.

Lifting the travel ban is within our grasp! It hasn't been easy to get here. Let's make sure that all the emails, calls, letters-to-the-editor, delegations to Cuba, and rallies over the last fifty years pay off this year, in this Congress, by acting today!

Thanks for all that you do! We'll be in touch, during the first week of June, regarding the timing of a floor vote if and when we have a YES vote in the Agriculture Committee.

Adelante!

Kirsten Moller, Executive Director, Global Exchange
Malia Everette, Director, Global Exchange Reality Tours
Leslie Balog and Drea Hightower, Cuba Reality Tour Program
Pam Montanaro, Coordinator, Eco Cuba Exchange

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