by Merri Ansara
Members of some 150 national and local organizations, including Mass. Peace Action, called the White House on March 15 and 16 to urge President Biden to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. The hundreds of callers encountered long waits and continued busy signals, but they persisted.
Former President Donald Trump designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) during his final days in office. This designation compounded the already immense challenges faced by the Cuban people, who have been struggling under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic, 60 years of US trade embargo, and 243 distinct sanctions imposed by Donald Trump in his years in office.
Twenty major US Protestant churches published a letter to Biden at the same time in March, urging him to remove Cuba from the list and seek re-engagement and normalization of relations with the country. The letter noted the suffering of the Cuban people caused by the list, adding: “Our denominational partners in Cuba… face shortages of necessary items, including a lack of access to clean water, sanitation, hygiene articles, and materials essential for public health, such as medicines and medical devices. It has become increasingly impossible for our denominations and faith-based organizations to get much-needed aid and funds to our Cuban partners.”
In addition, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. issued a bipartisan call on President Biden to ease restrictions on Cuba, citing the benefits to US farmers and businesses that renewed trade would bring.
—Merri Ansara is a member of the Mass. Peace Action Board and chairs the Cuba Subcommittee of the Latin America Working Group.