WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

10 Feb 2021 | Press Release

56 Groups Urge the Biden-Harris Administration to Take Immediate Action to Normalize U.S.-Cuba Relations

Washington, D.C.—Today 56 organizations, including human rights and advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, Cuban-American groups, environmental and academic organizations, and business groups, sent a letter to the Biden-Harris administration, urging the administration to take immediate action to fulfill a campaign promise by reversing the failed Trump policies that continue to inflict harm on Cubans and their families.

The letter details specific policy recommendations that the Biden-Harris administration should take in order to initiate a more constructive policy of engagement toward Cuba. It makes the case that it is in the interest of the United States, and in the interest of the Cuban people, to move rapidly toward a more normal relationship, and it urges Congress to build on these measures through legislative action that ends restrictions and moves towards the full ending of the U.S. embargo.

Geoff Thale, President of the Washington Office on Latin America, says “Trump-era policies did nothing to advance either the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba or the wellbeing of the Cuban people. There are important developments happening on the island and growing support in the U.S. for more open relations with Cuba. The Biden-Harris administration should reverse the Trump policies, then take steps forward. Doing so would open space for cooperation and dialogue on issues ranging from the environment and climate change, to law enforcement, to health cooperation, to human rights.”

Lisa Haugaard, Co-Director of the Latin America Working Group, says, “The Biden-Harris administration has the power to put Cuba policy back on the right track with the stroke of a pen. It’s time to get back to dialogue between our nations and to free our peoples to work together on the problems that face us all.”

María José Espinosa, Acting Executive Director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, says, “The Trump administration’s policies have only served to undermine U.S. interests, hurt the Cuban people, and limit the ways Cuban Americans can support their families during a pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis on the island. Engagement is the best way to advance U.S. interests and those of the Cuban people, offers an opportunity for dialogue and cooperation on a wide range of issues, from human rights to national security, and is the best path for Cubans to determine their own future. The Biden-Harris administration should pursue a policy of engagement immediately.”

The recommendations are part of a widely supported effort to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations, increase engagement between the two countries, and end the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Signers from the faith, Cuban-American, business, and grassroots organizations underscored their support. One signer, the Cuba One Foundation, a Miami-based nonprofit that takes young Cuban Americans to visit the island, noted: “CubaOne will continue to build bridges and advocate that the Cuban family be at the heart of policy towards Cuba.”