The Cuban-American teacher Carlos Lazo, a veteran of the Iraq war, has addressed President Donald Trump directly to ask him to “extend a hand of solidarity” to the people of Cuba and lift the sanctions against the island at this time of crisis in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lazo, a resident of Seattle, Washington state, cites in his letter the endorsement of a petition on this issue by more than 12,000 signatures already obtained from the platform change.org.
His main argument for asking the President of the United States to lift sanctions against Cuba are the effects that these imply for the Cuban people directly.
“The embargo of the United States against Cuba is not a weapon with millimeter accuracy, it is not an intelligent and surgical bomb that hits the target of a government that needs to be shoot down in the island. The one affected by this set of sanctions is the Cuban people.”
The embargo/blockade is codified as law and its revision or lifting would depend on the United States Congress, not on the executive branch. But the Trump administration could indeed modify additional actions within its isolation policy against Cuba, which has practically intensified since arriving at the White House in 2017.
Some of these actions have involved reversing practically all the advances in bilateral relations begun during the Barack Obama administration.
Teacher Lazo recalls in his letter his status as a veteran of the Iraq war in which he participated as a member of the United States Army.
“Fifteen years ago, I served the United States in the Iraq war, under the banner of stars and the stripes. There, as a combat medic, I helped wounded young Americans. Between the fire and the shrapnel, I helped those children of America, who were also my brothers. Today, when the coronavirus and economic hardship threaten to bring pain and death to my homeland, I implore you to help my brothers and sisters on the Island. Help us, Mr. President! Let Cuba live! Lift the sanctions!”
Open letter to President Trump
Dear President Donald Trump: In recent days we addressed a petition to you requesting you to lift, albeit temporarily, some of the economic sanctions that the United States imposes on Cuba. In a short time, our petition reached the original target of 10,000 signatures, and today that number is increasing. Cuban-Americans in the United States, Republicans, Democrats, and people of different political and religious creeds in the world, continue to join this request. Similar claims have been made by the council of churches in Cuba and the United States, as well as by the European Union.
Mr. President: The embargo of the United States against Cuba is not a weapon with millimeter accuracy, it is not an intelligent and surgical bomb that hits the target of a government that needs to be shoot down in the Island. The one affected by this set of sanctions is the Cuban people. Those men, women, and children are the victims. You, who have advocated against wars, know that there are no “smart” bombs. These laws, like silent projectiles, cause pain in the Cuban people. The sanctions are largely responsible for the scarcity and hardship suffered by the population in the island. The effect of the sanctions increases exponentially with the arrival of the coronavirus.
In recent times, due to the escalation of the embargo, Cubans residing in other countries of the world are prohibited from using the services of Western Union to send remittances to their relatives on the Island. In addition, limitations are placed on the amount of money that Cuban-Americans who live in the United States can send to our families in Cuba. There are even restrictions to who we can send to and who we can’t. A few months ago, flights from the United States to airports in the interior of Cuba were eliminated. This not only punishes Cubans in their country, but also Cuban-Americans who live in the United States.
In the effort to harass, companies and oil ships that bring fuel to Cuba are persecuted and fined. Mr. President, that fuel lights Cuban homes and hospitals. That oil moves ambulances. It is not about politics, it is about humanity. We cannot support measures that ruthlessly hit our families. When American and foreign companies decide not to do business with Cuba, for fear of retaliation from the United States, that directly affects our parents, siblings, and even our childhood friends. Like the coronavirus, the effect of sanctions does not distinguish political creed, and hurts those who support the Cuban government as well as those who do not. The sanctions hurt Cubans who live inside and even those who live outside of the country. A few days ago, the arrival of a donation of medical equipment to alleviate the pandemic, was hampered by the carrier’s refusal to take it to Cuba, for fear of US sanctions.
Recently, you reached out to the North Korean government to offer the United States’ willingness to help at this time of global crisis. Here go our congratulations for that gesture of yours and the exhortation to spread that same message of love to the Cuban people. You have expressed more than once that, in the face of this global emergency, political considerations must give way to human considerations. We ask that this cordial pragmatism be inclusive to our people and that you extend a hand of solidarity to the people of Cuba.
Fifteen years ago, I served the United States in the Iraq war, under the banner of stars and the stripes. There, as a combat medic, I helped wounded young Americans. Between the fire and the shrapnel, I helped those children of America, who were also my brothers. Today, when the coronavirus and economic hardship threaten to bring pain and death to my homeland, I implore you to help my brothers and sisters on the Island. Help us, Mr. President! Let Cuba live! Lift the sanctions!
April 10, 2020
The original letter was written in English and sent to U.S. President Donald Trump.
Link to sign petition to lift sanctions against Cuba because of the coronavirus:
Link to sign petition from Cuba: