At CRLN we have been fortunate to meet and work with Cuban faith leaders since 1996, when Rev. Raimundo Garcia, a Cuban Presbyterian pastor from Cardenas, Cuba, addressed CRLN’s membership luncheon. He called upon us to visit Cuba in order to break the isolation between our two peoples, to promote dialogue about U.S.-Cuba relations, and to experience first-hand the impact of the U.S. embargo of Cuba. We began visiting Cuba and hosting Cubans in Chicago to learn directly from them.
In Cuba we saw the results of the embargo. Many medicines were completely unavailable or extremely scarce. Children went without asthma medicines only available in the U.S.
We had to look at our responsibility to end this policy which was being carried out in our name. We learned that in April of 1960, State Department officials wrote that the goal of the embargo was “to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government” (State Department, April 6, 1960). We joined faith communities around the world in working to end the embargo.
During the past twenty years the Cuban Council of Churches, the Cuban Catholic Bishops, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the U.S. National Council of Churches have been united in their public appeals for the embargo to end citing the suffering caused by the restrictions.
While diplomatic relations have been reestablished and some trade and travel restrictions have been changed by executive order, the embargo remains in place and the Cuban people still experience the shortages of crucial medicines and other essential products. The Cuban government estimates that the damages to the Cuban economy total over 125 billion dollars.
Since many of the positive changes in policy that took place during the Obama administration were made through executive orders, the Trump Administration has already reversed some of these policies. Action by Congress is required to finally end all the U.S. restrictions. CRLN will continue to work with our members and partners to finally end all the restrictions which make up the U.S. embargo against Cuba. Please join us!