On the eve of Dec. 17 - the seventh anniversary of the restoration of U.S.-Cuba relations - more than half of House Democrats demanded the restoration of the path to normalization and the reversal of Trump's policies and sanctions.
"The current humanitarian situation in Cuba is increasingly dire in terms of shortages of goods and food as well as decreased access to medical supplies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We urge you to take immediate humanitarian action - as the United Nations has repeatedly urged you to do - to suspend U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine and other humanitarian aid from reaching the Cuban people. We also support broader change to deepen engagement with Cuba and move toward normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations," the letter states.
US Congress Members Request Biden "Re-Engage" with Cuba
The representatives point out that complicated licensing and end-use verification processes impede the ability to ship or sell medical supplies to the island nation. In addition, the Trump administration's policy of restricting family remittances remains in place, preventing Cuban Americans from helping their own families during the pandemic.
"Trump's 'maximum pressure campaign' remains in place, with restrictions on remittances and travel, sanctions on the banking and tourism industries, and Cuba's inclusion on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is encouraging that Democrats in Congress are pushing the Biden Administration to right these wrongs," said Codepink co-founder Medea Benjamin.
The representatives call for bilateral engagement on migration, environment, security and health. They also point out that communications and internet access increased as a direct result of the policy of engagement under the Obama Administration.
"The Obama Administration's Cuba policy was very popular, not only among Americans in general, but also within the Cuban American community. This letter is an important breakthrough on Capitol Hill and will hopefully spur President Biden to fulfill his campaign promise to normalize relations with Cuba," said Angelica Salazar of Acere, the Alliance for Engagement and Respect for Cuba, a solidarity group seeking to end the blockade of Cuba.
Acere-affiliated organizations and individuals across the country worked tirelessly to bring the letter to the attention of Representatives and encourage them to sign on, including Codepink, Just Foreign Policy, Global Health Partners, Latin America Solidarity Committee, Building Relations with Cuban Labor, Solidarity Collective and Minnesota Cuba Committee.