Faith communities call for an end to the embargo as Cubans welcome the Obama family

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Cubans welcomed President Obama and his family on Sunday March 20 for the first visit by a sitting president in 88 years. The historic visit began with a tour of Old Havana including a meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega. In a statement issued before the visit, the Cuban Council of Churches said, “We appreciate that this visit is taking place based on positions of mutual respect and on recognition of the sovereignty of the people and the cultures, and on the specificities of each nation. We understand that it is an important step forward in the dialogue and search for normalization of relations, which can positively impact both nations and Latin America…. We welcome the statements by President Obama urging the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo.”


In the U.S., 23 faith communities issued a statement urging the U.S. House of Representatives to take action on legislation regarding Cuba that would normalize relations and usher in an era “when our peoples and our communities can engage with one another unhindered and with mutual understanding and benefit.”  During a nationally televised speech on March 22, President Obama said "As president of the United States, I’ve called on our Congress to lift the embargo. It is an outdated burden on the Cuban people."


At CRLN we are continuing to work with our members to finally end the travel ban and the embargo. Currently there are several pieces of legislation aimed at ending travel and trade restrictions in the House and Senate. We will be working to add cosponsors to those bills throughout 2016.  Our March 22 action alert focuses on adding co-sponsors to the companion bills in the House (HR 664) and Senate (S299) that will end the travel ban.  While many travel restrictions have been eased by executive order they can be reinstated by a new president unless the travel ban is ended by Congress.   


Illinois Representatives who are co-sponsors of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015 (HR664) Include: Rep. Cheri Bustos, Rep. Bobby L. Rush and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.  Illinois Senator Dick Durbin was an original co-sponsor of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act of 2015 (S299). Please contact Senator Kirk and your representative to urge them to co-sponsor these companion bills!  Together we can finally end the travel ban and the embargo!


More on President Obama's trip to Cuba:

Joint Press Conference by President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama

Text of President Obama's speech on March 22

President Obama to make historic Cuba visit March 21-22  PC(USA) mission co-workers and partners hopeful for expanded relationships

Jesse Jackson: Americans often see Cuba upside down

End U.S. embargo on Cuba, faith leaders tell Congress from Baptist News Global