Two dozen faith communities joined in a letter March 16 urging members of Congress to end the nation’s “long-standing and counter-productive” embargo on Cuba.
“We have listened to the call of our partner faith communities in Cuba, with whom we have worked for many years on humanitarian issues, on disaster response and in sister church relationships,” faith leaders including American Baptist Churches USA interim general secretary Susan Gillies and Paula Clayton Dempsey of the Alliance of Baptists told lawmakers. “Uniformly and consistently, they have told us that the embargo brings no benefits to the faith community in Cuba.”
“In fact, it makes life more difficult for church members and the Cuban people more broadly,” the faith leaders said. “They would like a full normal relationship, in which they can visit and learn from us, and we can visit and learn from them. They recognize that our two governments have differences, and issues that must be resolved. They are eager to see those issues discussed in the context of normal, respectful relations.”
Signers including James Winkler, general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches USA; Timothy Tee Boddie, general secretary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; and officials of denominational groups such as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) cited “a packet of legislative initiatives that would bring an end to most of the onerous restrictions of the U.S. embargo.”
“H.R. 3687 the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would end rules that limit agricultural sales to Cuba; H.R.3055, the Cuba DATA Act, would end limits on telecommunications trade and investment; and H.R. 3238, the Cuba Trade Act, would end limits on trade in general. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 664) would end any remaining restriction on U.S. citizen travel,” the letter said.