Letter to President Biden on Economic Sanctions Against Cuba
Dear President Biden:
Greetings from Global Ministries, a common witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.
Global Ministries has been engaged in a relationship of solidarity and accompaniment with the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC) for more than 60 years. As such, we have walked alongside Cubans throughout various moments in the history of the nation. On behalf of CIC, we request that you take a new path forward in U.S.-Cuban relations. In common witness through Global Ministries, our churches make this urgent, public appeal asking you to reject the cruel policies put into place by the Trump administration that have created so much suffering among the Cuban people.
Cuba, a country of eleven million people, is living through a difficult crisis due to the growing scarcity of food and medicine. Recent protests have drawn the world’s attention to this. While the Covid-19 pandemic has proven challenging for all countries, it has been especially challenging for a small island under the heavy weight of an economic blockade. In that sense, we find the policy of intentionally denying food and medicine to the Cuban people, especially during a global pandemic, to be an unconscionable act.
As the pandemic struck the island, its people and their government lost billions in revenue from international tourism that would normally go to their public health care system, food distribution, and economic relief. In addition, Donald Trump’s administration tightened the blockade, pushed aside the Obama opening, and put in place 243 “coercive measures” that have intentionally throttled life on the island and created more suffering. One of those measures, consisting of the prohibition on remittances and the end of direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba, are impediments to the well-being of a majority of Cuban families. You said on July 12, “We stand with the Cuban people.” If that is the case, we ask you to immediately sign an executive order and annul Trump’s 243 “coercive measures.”
There is no reason to maintain the Cold War politics that required the U.S. to treat Cuba as an existential enemy rather than a neighbor. Instead of maintaining the path set by Trump in his efforts to undo President Obama’s opening to Cuba, we call on you to move forward. We ask you to resume the opening and begin the process of ending the blockade. Ending the severe shortages in food and medicine must be the top priority.
On June 23, most of the United Nations member states voted to ask the U.S. to end the blockade. For the past 30 years, this has been the consistent position of a majority of member states. In addition, seven UN Special Rapporteurs wrote a letter to the U.S. government in April 2020 regarding the sanctions on Cuba. “In the pandemic emergency,” they wrote, “the lack of will of the U.S. government to suspend sanctions may lead to a higher risk of suffering in Cuba.”
As people of God, we ask you to end the Trump “coercive measures” and return to the Obama opening or, even better, begin the process of ending the blockade and fully normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. This is the moment to follow a path of sensibility, respect, dialogue, and reconciliation.
May God guide you with wisdom and discernment both for the people of Cuba and for all of God’s creation.
|Rev. Julia Brown Karimu|
President, Division of Overseas Ministries
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
In the United States and Canada
Co-Executive, Global Ministries
|Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson|
Associate General Minister
Global Engagement and Operations
United Church of Christ
Co-Executive, Global Ministries
|Rev. Angel Luis Rivera-Agosto|
Latin America and the Caribbean Office