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Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA), Chairman of the House Rules Committee and a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, has sent a letter to President-elect Joe Biden asking him to restore and repair relations between the United States and Cuba.
In a unequivocal letter, Rep. McGovern asks Biden to improve relations with Cuba, urging him "to act early, quickly and comprehensively to repair the great harm that has been done to US-Cuba relations, to the Cuban and American people, and to U.S. international relations with our European and Latin American allies over the past four years.
McGovern continues by reminding of the "explosion of positive change" in U.S.-Cuba relations, during the last two years of the Obama administration, including "the fledgling Cuban private sector flourished; innovation, the Internet, social media, communications and political space greatly expanded; and scientific, social and cultural exchanges between our two peoples multiplied."
The Congressman from Worcester, MA goes on to remind that "official cooperation advanced significantly between our two governments on law enforcement, anti-narcotics, migration, human trafficking and the environment, and that dialogue began on economic reform and human rights," agreements that were negotiated by the Cuban-American Obama-era official Alejandro Mayorkas, Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security.
In the statement, McGovern mentions six key fields in which he urges Biden to take immediate action, so as to overturn the Trump administration's restrictions on remittances, travel and commerce; its reduction of the number of U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Havana; and its baseless placement of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT).
First, McGoven calls on Biden to "act early, quickly and comprehensively to reverse all Trump-imposed policies, restrictions and sanctions against Cuba," suggesting he "do it all, as comprehensively as possible, in one fell swoop. And do it early, including again removing Cuba from the SSOT list and restoring the waiver on Title III of the Helms-Burton Act."
Secondly, the Congressmen urges Biden to "restore a fully functioning U.S. embassy and consular services in Cuba to be headed by an experienced, highly-skilled ambassador," clarifying that "American law enforcement agencies established fairly early that the Cuban government was not the perpetrator of alleged attacks against U.S. personnel. As such, there is no justification for our embassy in Havana to remain minimally staffed."
Thirdly, McGovern asks that Biden "decouple U.S.-Cuba relations from U.S. policy towards Venezuela and from Florida domestic politics," reminding that "there are many among the Cuban American and Latin American communities in Florida and elsewhere who support engagement with Cuba, and it would be wise to inform and include them in planning and encourage them to voice support for your policies."
Fourthly, the Representative for Central Massachusetts encourages the President-elect to "open up travel, interchanges and commerce between the American and Cuban people," so as to eventually create the conditions where "we might see modest successes on travel, agricultural financing and advancing commerce between our two nations, issues that can create confidence and momentum towards ending the U.S. embargo that so ties the hands of every Administration in developing constructive U.S. policies on Cuba."
Fifthly, he promotes the immediate "end to the application of any sanction against food, medicine and other humanitarian assistance to Cuba," calling it "an outrage that the United States impeded and halted air and sea shipments to Cuba of urgently needed humanitarian aid from other nations and non-profits while a global pandemic is raging."
And lastly, McGovern suggests Biden "renew the collaborative working groups and dialogues, including on human rights and economic and financial reforms," noting that not only are there "concerns about the inherent rights of Cuban citizens, but also about the right of U.S. citizens and organizations to interact with their Cuban partners, including artists, religious groups, academics and others."
"US Congressman James P. McGovern has called Trump's policy of tightening the economic blockade against Cuba inhumane"
The letter concludes by referencing a detailed roadmap on the restoration of US-Cuba relations, authored by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), calling on Biden to thoroughly review its proposals and recommendations.
McGovern has been a longtime advocate of normalizing relations with Cuba, having traveled to the island with President Barack Obama in March 2016 and with Secretary of State John Kerry in August 2015.
He has introduced legislation to end restrictions on U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba and has been a consistently strong voice against the Trump Administration’s failed Cold-War era Cuba policies.
McGovern is also a member of the bipartisan Cuba Working Group in the U.S. House of Representatives, and has been engaged in the restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba, the Finca Vigía, which is collaborative project between Cuba and non-governmental organizations and foundations in the United States.