June 30, 2022
The Honorable Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
President and Vice President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris:
We write to you as leaders and grassroots organizers from across the United States who support solidarity and advocacy with the Cuban people. Many of us have participated in licensed travel to Cuba with Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective (WFPSC) or a similar solidarity group. Since 1998, WFPSC has led thousands of U.S. Americans in 10-day delegations to Cuba with a mission to learn directly from Cuban people and listen to testimonies from artists, farmers, health workers, Afro-Cuban leaders, entrepreneurs, LGBTQ+ activists, and faith leaders. These delegates have seen firsthand how U.S. sanctions limit their access to basic necessities, food, transportation, housing, and medicines. The Cuban people, independent of their political views, remain firm in their “right to live without a [U.S. imposed] blockade” and have urged us to share that message widely.
We applaud your Administration's recent steps towards restoring a policy of engagement and reversing some Trump administration measures, many of which were implemented during a deadly global pandemic. We welcome the steps forward outlined in the May 16th, 2022 State Department’s Fact Sheet and urge swift implementation of these much needed and overdue changes. The island is currently experiencing acute shortages of food, fuel, and medicine tied to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and tightened economic sanctions.
We write to you to highlight the brutal reality that over 200 Trump-era sanctions remain in place under your leadership. We join many U.S. organizations, individuals, and decision-makers to demand that you and your administration move quickly to take executive action and make good on your campaign promise “to reverse the failed Trump policies that inflicted harm on Cubans and their families.” In March 2021, 80-House Members listened to their constituents and sent a congressional sign on letter to your Administration outlining some critical U.S.-Cuba policy recommendations, including several we highlight and support:
1. Immediately retract the “politicized decision by the departing Trump Administration” to designate Cuba as a state sponsor of terror (SSTL) -- a move that is widely condemned across the world as baseless. As stated clearly, “Cuba was removed from the list in 2015 after an exhaustive review by experts at the State Department and in the Intelligence Community, and the Trump Administration did not cite any new facts to justify their decision.”
2. Resume the path towards normalization of diplomatic relations, including restarting high-level bilateral dialogue and renewing working groups formed during the Obama administration to cover a wide range of key shared interests such as climate change, scientific cooperation, and migration. 2 80- House Members Congressional sign on letter to President Biden, Press Release, March 2, 2021 1 Oxfam Report, Right to Live Without a Blockade: The impact of US sanctions on the Cuban population and women’s lives, explains how US policy blocks people from developing their capabilities and exercising leadership to pursue their goals and fully exercise their rights, particularly affecting the most vulnerable groups, May 25, 2021. 1
3. End all U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba so that anyone under U.S. jurisdiction can travel to Cuba freely per their constitutional right. Roll back the Trump Administration’s restrictions and permit individual travel, lift restrictions on cruise ships, private charters and vessels, and allow for general tourism to Cuba.
4. These initial steps should be part of an ongoing process that seeks to end the harmful and extra-territorial blockade against Cuba. U.S. polls have long shown that the majority of U.S. Americans support this, along with nearly all members of the U.N. General Assembly, who for 29 consecutive years have voted against the US embargo.
We respectfully ask that your Administration further consider:
5. Taking executive action on regulations that govern trade and travel to Cuba to return them to their status as of January 20th, 2017. Remove Cuba from the SSTL, waiving Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, annul the Cuba Prohibited Accommodations List, and remove the sanctions on Fincimex and AIS to facilitate the reinstatement of remittances to Cuba.
6. Use executive authority to halt the annual determination to impose sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
7. Immediately end the application of any sanctions that restrict food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance to Cuba, including restrictions on financial transactions and international cooperation.
8. Expedite reactivating and restaffing the U.S. Embassy in Havana to normalize the issuance of all visas and other consular services. While we applaud the recent reinstating of the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program, the backlog of nearly one hundred thousand visa applications has kept families separated, stalled careers, denied the right to travel, fueled high-risk migration, and cost innumerable resources by requiring that Cubans travel to a third country.
9. Prioritize engagement on medical cooperation 4 by adding Cuban vaccines to the list of those recognized by U.S. authorities so that Cubans can enter the United States, facilitating the approval of Cuban vaccines, removing policies that incentivize Cuban doctors leaving their medical missions, and by taking executive action to ensure that basic medical supplies and components for producing and distributing vaccines are not negatively affected by the U.S. “embargo” (also called an “economic blockade”) or other sanctions.
10. Peacefully return Guantanamo Bay.
We understand that to fully normalize relations with Cuba, there must be an Act of Congress. We highlight that in December 2021, your Administration received a letter from 114 House Representatives requesting a meeting to discuss U.S.-Cuba relations and as well as a letter from the Senate outlining similar policy recommendations. Please meet and listen to your fellow colleagues in the House Chamber.
The Biden Administration can alleviate this suffering with “a stroke of the pen” in opposition to Trump-era policies that were implemented to cause harm to Cubans. Your Administration can make history.
We will continue to advocate for U.S. engagement with Cuba that respects the right of the Cuban people to live without a blockade: at the doors of your executive administration (and of subsequent administrations if yours decides to maintain with this draconian policy), to our Representatives, and within our communities in all 50 states.
Respectfully, We, the people and organizations undersigned
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective
Witness for Peace Midwest
Witness for Peace Southeast
Global Health Partners
Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect
School of the Americas Watch
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
InterReligious Task Force on Latin America
Massachusetts Peace Action
Bay Area Cuba Saving Lives
LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern), PA
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
Minnesota Cuba Committee
Solidarity Committee on the Americas, MN
Americas Media Initiative
National Network on Cuba
Caribbean Agroecology Institute
Cuba- US Agroecology Network
Ufahamu: A Journal of African Studies, UCLA
Miami Workers Center, FL
Maui Peace Action
Australia Solidarity with Latin America
Wheaton Franciscan Sisters JPIC Office
Doctors 4 Detroit
Baltimore Nonviolence Center
Martinez Arts Consulting, ALC
HERO Nurturing Center Inc.
Casa Baltimore Limay
GrowHouse International, Inc.
Partners in Healthy Communities
You can read the full letter here in English
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective - firstname.lastname@example.org