Once again, Global Ministries joined its voice to an ecumenical initiative advocating for justice, peace, and reconciliation for Cuba's people. Recently, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, threaten to apply more coercive measures to Cuba by adding the country to the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. A finding that a country has "repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism," in the State Department's official description of a state sponsor of terrorism, automatically triggers U.S. sanctions against its government. Sanctions under applicable laws to "terrorist states" include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales; specific controls over exports of dual-use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions. If added to the list, Cuba would join just three other nations: Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Please see: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/29/us/politics/pompeo-cuba-terrorism-sponsor-list.html
Global Ministries' Partners, as the Evangelical Seminary of Theology (SET), Matanzas, Cuba, shared their reaction to this cruel intent through the final days of the Trump Administration. Rev. Dr. Carlos Emilio Ham-Stanard, SET's President, shared with the Latin America and the Caribbean Area Executive a reaction to that initiative:
There is indignation in us as Cubans because this does not do justice to reality—quite the opposite. Historically, Cuba, especially in recent months, far from supporting terrorism, has been sending doctors to heal and work for justice and reconciliation. It is unworthy and reprehensible, especially when the country is fighting for survival when the blockade's belt has been tightened the most. Therefore, it is unacceptable in the moral as well as in the practical order. In stark contrast to attitudes of this kind, there is the solidarity of groups like Global Ministries, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ. Your churches have always supported us in this just cause against the manipulation of the truth. I appreciate this effort, as we, like SET, are advocates of ecumenical witness. In our case, we do it through theological education."
Joel Suarez, Martin Luther King Jr. Center's General Coordinator also shared a reaction to that policy:
This is continuing aggression against the people of Cuba. It aims to strengthen the country's actual blockade against the country, in times where not only Cuba, but the rest of the world, is suffering from economic harships and the impact of COVID-19. At this moment, the island is reorganizing its economy and dealing with palliative measures to confront the actual pandemic. It is crucial to emphasize Cuba's commitment to peace in the international arena, in favor of multilateralism, for the self determination of the people around the world and friendly relations among countries. I can quote two examples of how Cuba has contributed to peace and not terrorism. The first is our sponsorship of the negotiations and signing of the Peace Accords between the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) and that country's government. We were successful as promoters and facilitators in that endeavor. The other one is the recent negotiations between the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian state. In that process, Ecuador refused to follow up to the peace process between the ELN and Colombia. Its own government requested Cuba to be the new venue for the continuing negotiations. If they haven't achieved an accord, the Colombian government refused to continue the dialogue. Cuba is still waiting for the government of Colombia to resume negotiations for the sake of the Colombian people. Far from being a promoter of terrorism, Cuba has proven to be a clear protagonist in all the most recent efforts for peace processes with justice in the region, particularly in Colombia.
Global Ministries will participate in the organizational sign-on letter to Secretary Pompeo, sponsored by several churches and ecumenical organizations. The letter will question Pompeo's intent to add Cuba to the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Below, you can read the letter's text, as it will be submitted in the upcoming days.
"Dear Secretary Pompeo,
Press reports suggest that you are considering adding Cuba once again to the list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism," and we write to express our strong opposition.
There is no justification for adding Cuba to this list; while the U.S. has policy disagreements with Cuba about a range of issues, these are unrelated to issues of state sponsorship of terrorism. Adding Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terror is a political gesture that undermines U.S. credibility on the terrorism issue.
Designating Cuba as state sponsor of terrorism would be not only misguided, but cruel. While it would not tighten existing sanctions on U.S. businesses in trading with Cuba, it would complicate some third country sales to Cuba, and discourage foreign investment, and that will impact the Cuban people, including the families, communities, and congregations that are our partners.
The Cuban economy has been dealt several harsh blows in recent years – from U.S. imposed restrictions on family remittances, from the contraction in the number of U.S. visitors as a result of Trump-era travel limitations, from the COVID lock down, from U.S. efforts to restrict oil shipments to Cuba, and from Cuba's own internal economic challenges. The result has been hardships and shortages for the Cuban people.
Our partners in the Cuban churches -- congregants, ministers, and their communities – are being severely affected by these measures, and we have called for their end.
The proposal to add Cuba to the state sponsors of terrorism list would only worsen this situation, and hurt those already enduring economic pain.
For all these reasons, we strongly oppose any decision to add Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terror, and urge you not to do so."