PRESS RELEASE: British MPs call for US blockade to be suspended during coronavirus pandemic
Campaign News | Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Fifty one British members of parliament have written to Dominic Raab, the UK Foreign Secretary and acting Prime Minister to call for the US blockade of Cuba to be temporarily suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grahame Morris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba, coordinated the letter which asks the British government to make a public statement and to raise the issue directly with its counterparts in the United States’ government.
The letter from the British parliamentarians cites examples from around the world where governments and international organisations have demanded that humanitarian aid be allowed in to Cuba to help the country fight COVID-19. It quotes Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Arancha González, Spanish Foreign Minister, and Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, who have all publicly called for sanctions to be suspended to Cuba and other sanctioned countries to allow for the delivery of essential supplies and medicine to stop the spread of the virus.
The MPs also acknowledge that despite the difficulties Cuba is facing at home the island has sent more than 700 medical professionals to seventeen countries including Italy, Andorra, St Lucia and Jamaica and allowed the British cruise ship MS Braemar to dock so that passengers, including five with coronavirus, could return home.
In addition the letter makes reference to the public petitions around the world which have gained thousands of signatures, including the open letter launched by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in Britain which has almost 15,000 supporters from more than 130 countries.
Grahame Morris MP said “The Cuban government altruistically gave an offer of safe haven to passengers of the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar allowing it to dock in Havana when many other countries had refused. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab publicly thanked Cuba for this assistance in a statement to the UK parliament. Cuba has also offered its anti-viral drug Interferon alfa-2b available to nations around the world to help in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19. Time for the international community to reciprocate and to lift the U.S. imposed blockade and end the embargo at the very least on a temporary basis.”
Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign said: "Politicians, international organisations, governments, and people across the globe are calling on the United States to lift its blockade of Cuba during this worldwide crisis. The central demand is a humanitarian one – it is now time for cooperation across borders not aggression and blockade."
Notes to editors:
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign campaigns against the US blockade and defends Cuba’s right to independence and self-determination, free from foreign intervention.
The public petition and open letter can be seen at
For further information or interviews contact
Rob Miller, CSC director at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07930 693900.
Text and signatories to the letter:
The Rt Hon Dominic Raab
First Secretary of State
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Dear Foreign Secretary,
We are writing to ask the British government to join the growing international call for the US administration to temporarily suspend its blockade of Cuba during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As of 13 April, Cuba has more than 700 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 21 people have died. Like Britain, the island’s health professionals are working hard to save the lives of its population. At the same time, the country faces shortages of medical equipment and medicines as a direct result of US policy. At the beginning of April, a consignment of coronavirus aid, including ventilators, masks and test kits provided by the Chinese Alibaba Foundation could not be delivered, as the freight company feared fines by the US Treasury Department.
Despite difficulties in obtaining medical equipment to fight COVID-19, Cuba has provided humanitarian support to many other countries during the crisis. The island has sent more than 700 doctors and nurses to seventeen countries including Italy, Andorra, St Lucia and Jamaica to support the overwhelmed health services in these nations.
In March, Cuba allowed the British cruise ship MS Braemar to dock so that infected passengers could be flown home. You will remember that you thanked the Cuban government for their assistance, stating in parliament that “we are very grateful to the Cuban government for swiftly enabling this operation and for their close cooperation to make sure it could be successful.”
On 2 April, Dr Anthony Stokes, British ambassador to Cuba, sent a letter expressing British thanks for the “great gesture of solidarity” by the 43 Cubans who had helped with the evacuation of the passengers and had just returned home safely after a 14-day quarantine period.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile, stated in March that US sanctions “should be eased or suspended” as they limit countries’ ability to provide medical care and increase the risk that the virus will spread.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González has also given Spain’s support to the call by the UN Secretary General for countries to be exempted from sanctions in order to receive humanitarian aid.
On 3 April, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, stressed “that sanctions should not impede the delivery of essential equipment and supplies necessary to fight the coronavirus and limit its spread worldwide.”
Several international public petitions have gained thousands of signatures in support of this call, including a UK-based open letter to the British government signed by almost 15,000 people.
We join these international calls for the US blockade to be temporarily suspended to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered. We ask that the British government joins other governments in making a public statement to this effect and raises it directly with US government counterparts.
Grahame Morris MP, Chair, APPG Cuba
Dan Carden MP, Vice Chair, Kate Osborne MP, Vice Chair, Kim Johnson MP, Vice Chair, Paula Barker MP, Vice Chair, Alison Thewliss MP Allan Dorans MP, Amy Callaghan MP, Andy McDonald MP, Apsana Begum MP, Bell Ribero-Addy MP, Beth Winter MP, Carol Monaghan MP, Chris Law MP, Chris Stephens MP, Claudia Webbe MP, Clive Lewis MP, Dave Doogan MP, Diane Abbott MP, Geraint Davies MP, Ian Byrne MP, Ian Mearns MP, Ian Lavery MP, Imran Hussain MP, Joanna Cherry MP, John McDonnell MP, Jon Trickett MP, Kate Osamor MP, Kenny MacAskill MP, Kirsten Oswald MP, Kirsty Blackman MP, Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP, Margaret Ferrier MP, Marion Fellowes MP, Martyn Day MP, Mary Foy MP, Mick Whitley MP, Mike Amesbury MP, Mike Hill MP, Navendu Mishra MP, Olivia Blake MP, Owen Thompson MP, Rachel Hopkins MP, Richard Burgon MP, Ronnie Cowan MP, Sam Tarry MP, Sarah Champion MP, Stephen Bonnar MP, Stephen Flynn MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP, Zarah Sultana MP