Write to the US ambassador in the UK to demand that the US government remove Cuba from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list and end the inhumane blockade.

Dear Ambassador Jane Hartley,

We are writing to you to urge the US Government to remove Cuba from its ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ (SSOT) list, a designation which we believe to be both unjust and inhumane in its impact on the Cuban people.

As you will be aware, Cuba’s listing as an SSOT was implemented by President Trump on the eve of his departure from office in January 2021. Since then there have been numerous international calls to reverse the action. The presence of Colombian guerrillas in Cuba has been cited to justify the designation, however it is internationally accepted that they were there to participate in official peace talks sponsored by the Norwegian Government, which Cuba was hosting.

In fact, following the ceasefire agreement with the ELN guerrilla group, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called on President Biden to remove Cuba from the list, saying: “Cuba should be applauded for the crucial role it played in helping to end decades of conflict and facilitate reconciliation in Colombia, and should not face sanctions for having done so.” Since his election in 2022, President Gustavo Petro has also pushed for Cuba to be removed from the list and has called its continued inclusion a “profound injustice.”

Not only is the inclusion on the list unjust, it also has a devastating effect on the lives of the Cuban people. It prevents Cuba from using international banking systems and makes it increasingly difficult to acquire basic necessities such as fuel, food, medicines and hygiene products. Forty-five international banks immediately terminated relations with Cuba when it was returned to the list.

There are currently profound shortages in Cuba. Like many countries Cuba is suffering from the world economic crisis, the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, and relentless damage to infrastructure by hurricanes and floods as a consequence of global warming. Uniquely it must also contend with an ongoing 61-year blockade and the extra sanctions that inclusion on the SSOT list brings. Both undoubtedly cost lives in Cuba, and contribute to a humanitarian crisis which is fuelling increased migration from the island to the US.

International travel to the United States suffers too. People from 40 countries, including the UK, now have to apply for a full visa if they have visited Cuba, rather than simply applying for an ESTA waiver.

In the last year of this presidential term, President Biden has the chance to make a humanitarian gesture that would genuinely make a difference to the lives of millions of Cubans. Such a move would be welcomed by the international community which has been calling for an end to the blockade, and has voted for it in the UN General Assembly for 31 years running.

As the brief period of cooperation between the US and Cuba under the Obama administration showed, both countries and peoples gain when a path of peace and engagement is followed.

Yours sincerely,

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