Yearly Meeting Calls for Relief for Cuba

New England Yearly Meeting in annual sessions approved sending the following letter to President Biden and to Congress, urging policy changes toward Cuba. Individual Friends are urged to send the letter to their members of Congress.

The letter reads as follows:

To the Biden Administration and all members of Congress:

The United States blockade against Cuba, as well as the recent executive actions of the previous administration, deny the Cuban people access to food, medical supplies and other essential resources and have exacerbated the humanitarian crises of poverty and pandemic. Our Quaker faith compels us to make an urgent appeal to our own government in hope that we can move forward with love and respect for all. 

New England Yearly Meeting calls upon the Biden administration and the United States Congress to immediately end the blockade against Cuba, as well as immediately rescind the 240 plus executive actions held over from the previous administration, which are an affront to human rights and dignity. Furthermore we urge the United States government to initiate a normalization of relations between our two countries.

The Yearly Meeting is also one of 24 faith groups calling on President Biden to ease restrictions on Cuba in light of the economic and health crisis in that country. The letter reads as follows:

President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

August 11, 2021

Dear President Biden:

The unprecedented social outburst in Cuba last month has called attention to the difficult situation on the island. We are deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian crisis that is causing needless suffering and death for the Cuban people. Our partners in the Cuban churches—congregants, ministers, and their communities—have expressed their distress concerning the severe shortages of basic medicines, food, and other vital materials amidst the COVID-19 battle.

As faith-based denominations, organizations and partners, many of whom have a long history of work on the ground in Cuba, we are writing to ask you to prioritize the well-being of the Cuban people, irrespective of political considerations, by taking immediate humanitarian steps, and suspending U.S. regulations that prevent assistance from reaching Cuba and the Cuban people.

In Cuba, we hope that the Cuban government will respond to these protests with dialogue and action; as in other countries, we condemn heavy-handed responses to protest by security forces, and we urge the government to release all those detained for peacefully protesting or reporting on the protests.

We know that Cuba’s economic crisis has been caused by numerous factors.   However, it is clear that the U.S. economic embargo—intensified by the Trump Administration—is contributing to the worsening humanitarian situation the island is facing.   We believe your administration should take the necessary steps to remove all obstacles preventing families and communities in the U.S. from helping families in Cuba.

Specifically, we urge you to:

  • Lift all restrictions and caps of family and donative remittances that could help Cubans purchase food and medicine on the island
  • Re-staff the U.S. embassy in Havana and reinstate consular services
  • Remove the requirement for specific licenses to send medical supplies to Cuba and the “end-use verification” requirement for humanitarian imports, both of which vastly increase the red tape in sending aid to the island from the US, and which discourage both donors and sellers
  • Lift all restrictions on banking and financial transactions related to humanitarian aid as well as restrictions on the percentage of US-made material used in foreign- produced medical supplies that inhibit the purchase or distribution of humanitarian aid internationally.

We hold you in our prayers and hope your administration can act immediately on this urgent request.  Our faith partners in Cuba are reaching out to us for assistance.  We hope that you will hear their plea.