WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

10 Nov 2021 | News

Urgent Action: Push President Biden to Respond to Cuba’s Humanitarian Emergency and Restore Engagement

Cubans are experiencing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in recent times. The current humanitarian situation in Cuba continues to grow more dire amid the Covid-19 pandemic, decreasing resources and medical supplies, increased repression in response to social unrest, and continued food and goods shortages. It is critical, now more than ever, that the United States take immediate action to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the Cuban people and take concrete steps to foster constructive engagement with Cuba, leading to the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and Bobby Rush (D-IL) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter to President Biden regarding changing U.S. policy towards Cuba to address the humanitarian and economic crisis and restore engagement with our Caribbean neighbor.

The letter asks the administration to:

  • Suspend U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine, and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people.

  • Remove 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-staff the U.S. Embassy in Havana, with the necessary measures to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel, and resume consular services in Cuba.

  • Rollback 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.

  • Remove 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 to purchasing or receiving humanitarian goods.

We need you to get in touch with your representative and urge them to sign onto the letter NOW! The deadline for sign-ons is Friday, December 3. Find your representative here. Then, here’s what you do:

  • Call the number for your representative’s office.

  • Ask to speak to the office’s foreign policy aide.

  • Once connected, read (or adapt) the script below.

  • You might be asked to just leave a message, either with the front desk or on voicemail. Should that happen, read the same script.

Sample Script: 

“My name is [FIRST AND LAST NAME] and I’m a constituent calling from [CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]. Cuba is currently facing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis the island has seen in recent history. Food shortages, long lines, and a lack of medical supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the suffering of Cubans on the island and of their families in the United States who are desperate to help but often unable to.

I’m calling you to urge Rep. [YOUR REP’S LAST NAME] to sign onto Rep. Jim McGovern’s dear colleague letter to President Biden, urging him to advance a U.S. policy towards Cuba that addresses the humanitarian and economic crisis and restores a policy of engagement. The letter calls for immediate and concrete actions to alleviate the crisis, such as lifting specific licenses required to send medical supplies and ending restrictions on sending family and donative remittances and lifting restrictions on travel. These are just a few actions President Biden can take to improve the quality of life in Cuba. These actions will also guide us down a path of engagement with Cuba in areas such as migration, disaster response, and climate change. Protecting human rights in Cuba, including the right to protest, can only be achieved through engagement, rather than unilateral isolation, which has proven time and time again to be a failed policy.

Is this something Representative [YOUR REP’S LAST NAME] can support? I hope you will consider my request, and thank you for your time.”