WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

4 Nov 2021 | WOLA Statement

Condemning Cuba on Repression Doesn’t Mean being Oblivious of What’s Wrong with U.S. Policy

H. Res. 760 was introduced in an effort to express solidarity with Cuban citizens ahead of the protests that are scheduled to take place on November 15 of this year. While it offers well-deserved criticism of the Cuban government’s acts of repression, it also continues to ignore the fundamental flaws of current U.S. policy towards Cuba and makes no significant effort to address these in a way that could have a substantial impact on the situation on the island as it stands today.

The resolution recalls the protests that took place in July, the repression that took place in response, and the calls for another round of demonstrations on November 15. It also acknowledges that “basic medicines and common goods have become scarce throughout the country and economists estimate Cuba’s economic conditions will become even worse in the coming months.” But while the resolution urges strong statements by the Biden-Harris administration on the right to protest, it doesn’t propose or support the concrete actions that the U.S. can and should take to respond to the humanitarian situation on the island.

The current humanitarian situation in Cuba continues to grow more dire amid the Covid-19 pandemic, decreased resources and medical supplies, increased repression in response to social unrest, and continued food and goods shortages. Countless groups, including WOLA, have called for concrete steps that could help address the most severe of these consequences, including measures such as:

  • Suspending U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people.
  • Removing all restrictions on family remittances, allowing Cuban-Americans to help their families and improve their standard of living, and the restrictions on non-family remittances, allowing nonprofits and faith groups to provide humanitarian assistance and start-up capital for Cuban entrepreneurs and civil society.
  • Fully re-staffing the U.S. Embassy in Havana, with the necessary measures to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel, and resume consular services in Cuba.
  • Rolling back the Trump administration’s restrictions on travel to Cuba, since they make it more difficult for Cuban-Americans to visit and reunite with family on the island, particularly for those with families outside of Havana.
  • Removing Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) list, since this designation places another roadblock in the path towards improved relations and creates further obstacles for purchasing or receiving humanitarian goods.

It is important to pay close attention to the developments in Cuba and to uphold the rights of the Cuban people to peacefully protest, to demand political and economic change, and to be protected from any state-sponsored repression. At the same time, it is important to hold the U.S. government accountable for its lack of constructive action during the crisis. A more even handed resolution would have done that.