March 13, 2023
Dear President Biden,
As national religious denominations and faith-based organizations in the United States with ties to Cuban religious communities and the Cuban people, we write to express our deep concern for the effects that current U.S. policy is having across Cuba – on our Cuban partners and the general population. We appreciate every step the Biden administration takes to ease past restrictions and wish to encourage more bold relief of the sufferings of the Cuban people. In particular, the continued listing of Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list is causing real and visible hardships for the Cuban people. We urge you to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list and seek a path toward normalization in our nation’s relationship with the Cuban people and government.
State sponsors of terrorism provide logistical, financial, or political support to groups that carry out terrorist attacks on civilians. Cuba continues to make international commitments to combat terrorism, has ratified numerous international counterterrorism conventions, and has signed a bilateral agreement with the United States on counterterrorism. Cuba has collaborated with the U.S. counter-drug traffic efforts, interdicting narcotic shipments in the Caribbean, and the United States Government publicly thanked Cuba for this cooperation. Cuba is a sponsor of the Colombian peace talks, and the Cuban government is playing a constructive mediating role in these talks to end one of the region’s longest-standing conflicts. The Colombian government has lauded Cuba for its assistance. Moreover, Cuba has offered its airspace to the U.S. military and civilian humanitarian relief flights to Haiti.
The continued listing of Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List has led to great suffering among our Cuban partners and the Cuban people. In response to relisting on the SST, banks, financial institutions, and international vendors ceased helping facilitate both regular trade and cooperation with faith groups seeking to provide humanitarian and development support to Cuba. Overnight our denominational partners in Cuba began to face shortages of necessary items, including a lack of access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene articles, and materials essential for public health, such as medicines and medical devices. It has become increasingly impossible for our denominations and faith-based organizations to get much-needed aid and funds to our Cuban partners. Banks have frozen our funds for permitted religious and humanitarian activities, demanding additional licensing. They perceive the risks of fines and so insist on over-complying with the current restrictions.
Keeping Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list undermines the Biden administration’s stated foreign policy goals. SST status has driven mass migration and cut off private-sector investment. Personal businesses that were flourishing during the Obama administration have been decimated. Current U.S. policy is incapacitating the ability of ordinary Cubans to start their own businesses and devastated the public economy that provides medical and social welfare programs to the population. Over 300,000 Cubans have sold everything and risked their lives to migrate across the Southwest border of the United States. Our current policy towards Cuba is a root cause of migration.
As a matter of faith, we do not believe that imposing deep and painful costs on Cuba’s civilian population can be morally or pragmatically justified. Engagement does not constitute an endorsement. We are confident that removing Cuba from the SST list will ease some of the economic hardship currently faced by the Cuban people. Restoring Cuba’s status to the family of nations combined with a renewed commitment to dialogue around issues of mutual interest will create new opportunities for advancing legitimate American interests. We urge you to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
American Friends Service Committee
Armenian Orthodox Church of America
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America ~Bautistas por la Paz
Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Church World Service
Cuba Partners Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Florida Council of Churches
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Latin America Working Group
Mennonite Central Committee
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA
North Carolina Council of Churches
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
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