Joint Ecumenical Letter to President Joe Biden - Cuba Sanctions - 15 October 2021

World Council of Churches | Wednesday, 20 October 2021 | Click here for original article

In a 15 October letter to US president Joe Biden, leaders from the World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, Council of Churches in Cuba, and other faith-based groups urged an end to nearly 60 years of embargo against the Cuban people, who are facing an appalling humanitarian situation.

President Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

15 October 2021

Re: Cuba Sanctions

Dear Mr President,

We write to intercede on behalf of the Cuban people, who are facing an appalling humanitarian situation. After nearly sixty years of embargo against their country, the question that must be asked is whether this continuing embargo is worthwhile at all.

The Obama administration, with your support, sought to rethink the policy and pursue re-engagement with Cuba, by relaxing sanctions, allowing direct flights between the two countries, and easing restrictions on US citizens traveling to and doing business in Cuba. Former President Donald Trump reversed President Obama’s strategy. He placed Cuba back on the US list of state sponsors of international terrorism, cut off travel between Cuba and the US, and barred US citizens and residents from sending remittances to their relatives in Cuba, cutting off a major economic lifeline for many Cubans. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the problems in Cuba.

Mr. President, there is a time to tear down and a time to build. There is a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. We ask you to take a bold choice and end the embargo against the Cuban people. We are aware that there are very significant political pressures and obstacles to this course of action.

Nevertheless, impelled by Christian faith and compassion, we implore you to take action to ease the burden of the Cuban people, including by:

1. Removing Cuba from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. We do not see real public evidence to believe that Cuba has the will, means and capacity to sponsor global terrorism.

2. Suspending again the application of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which was suspended for a long period and was reactivated by former President Donald Trump on 2 May 2019.

3. Reinstalling the “people-to-people” travel category for educational exchange, utilizing this general license to maintain a full-time schedule of educational and cultural exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people.

4. Eliminating the cruise travel ban and reinstalling regular airline flights to all Cuban cities.

5. Suspending the State Department's Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List, allowing US citizens to use the hotels and rental houses they want.

6. Eliminating the cap of USD 1,000 per quarter for family remittances that one remitter can send per quarter to one Cuban national.

7. Reactivating non-family remittances from third countries through Western Union and companies like Fincimex and AIS.

8. Suspending the List of Restricted Entities and Sub-entities Associated with Cuba.

9. Reactivating the US Embassy in Havana, including its consular services.

10. Suspending visa application requirements from third countries and granting annual visas under immigration agreements.

11. Reactivating scientific exchanges in biotechnology, health, and other areas of science.

We strongly believe that there are other ways to engage with the Cuban authorities to discuss and overcome disagreements on issues and legacies, without affecting the people who want to live in human dignity. We appeal to you to consider their plight, and to work to overcome the political obstacles to solidarity and justice.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. Prof. Dr. Ioan Sauca
Acting General Secretary
World Council of Churches

Mr. Rudelmar Bueno de Faria
General Secretary (CEO)
ACT Alliance

Rev. Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
National Council of Churches of Christ USA

Rev. Philip Vinod Peacock
Acting General Secretary
World Communion of Reformed Churches

Bishop Ivan M. Abrahams
General Secretary
World Methodist Council

Council of Churches of Cuba
General Secretary
Rev. Joel Ortega Dopico

Ms. Josianne Gauthier
Secretary General

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