That President Biden dismantle the sanctions system that continues to affect the Cuban people in order to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba is the central request that some 37 intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and analysts, mostly Cubans, subscribed to U.S. President Joe Biden 20 days after the start of his administration.
“Lifting the U.S. embargo/blockade unconditionally would be a key step and an act of moral courage. Cubans are hoping for it; U.S. citizens would support it, and the international community would embrace the audacity and wisdom of such an initiative,” says the letter published this Tuesday by the La Joven Cuba website.
The most recent petition to the U.S. president emphasizes that “the last four years have been particularly cruel with the Trump administration’s campaign to score political points in Florida,” a circumstance to which the new coronavirus pandemic was added, creating a situation of strangulation of the Cuban people in the face of which the community residing in the United States could do little due to the inability to send remittances and medicines.
The letter acknowledges that the United States is not solely responsible for the problems the country faces, however, it points out that “the economic, financial and trade sanctions imposed on Cuba for 59 years makes it difficult to overcome our differences.”
Among the signatories, the names of two Cuban national awards stand out, writer Antón Arrufat and filmmaker Fernando Pérez, although figures from the artistic sector such as actor Jorge Perugorría, poet Alex Fleites Rodríguez or filmmaker Eduardo del Llano also stand out, while from the academic field the letter has the support of intellectuals such as Rafael Hernández, Ailynn Torres Santana, Samuel Farber, Carlos Alzugaray and Julio César Guanche.
The letter also argues that the “United States does not have to be an ideological ally but can stop being a hostile neighbor. In these times of communications and social mobilization, Cubans are more than capable to defend our rights independently. What we need from the U.S. government and its leaders is to stop interfering in our domestic affairs.”
It also stresses that Cubans and Americans “share the common past of being the colony of a foreign empire” and therefore both “understand the value of sovereignty.” “But your history with our country is troublesome. The majority of Cubans respect and admire your people and its achievements, but we feel the U.S. government has missed time and time again the opportunity to do the right thing and correct a history of wrongdoings.”
It was also signed by Arturo López Levy, Collin Laverty, Harold Cárdenas Lema, Fernando Ravsberg, Isabel Alfonso, Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada, Carolina de la Torre, Carlos Lazo, Yunior García Aguilera and Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor who was imprisoned in Cuba convicted of “acts against the integrity and independence of the Cuban State,” who was part of the exchange of prisoners that in December 2014 began the well-known “thaw.”
This letter was preceded by two others that have also been sent to President Joe Biden with the purpose of demanding the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba and the elimination of the blockade/embargo. The first was sent by Seattle-based teacher Carlos Lazo, one of the greatest activists for the normalization, and the second by a group of Cuban-Americans with a long history in this endeavor.
Open Letter to President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Five years ago, the Cuban people witnessed the president of the United States speak in Havana about hope and shaping a better future. His speech spoke of opening Cuba to the world, stimulating civic values and building new businesses. None of these lasted long, as the Trump administration imposed a series of sanctions on top of the most comprehensive and persistent embargo/blockade imposed on any nation. There is little that Cubans on the island can do to alleviate the effects of foreign sanctions during a pandemic, but a swift action from you can make a difference during this humanitarian crisis.
President Biden, we ask you to start dismantling the system of sanctions that continues to hurt the Cuban people.
Today Cubans are suffering extraordinarily due to economic hardships. We do not say this lightly, as we are known for our resilience and most of us were born and raised in crisis. However, the last four years have been particularly cruel with the Trump administration’s campaign to score political points in Florida. A group of hardliners inflicted much damage to Cuba from their positions of privilege. Even now, during a global pandemic, Cuban-Americans and Cubans with residence in the U.S. are unable to send remittances and medicine to the island. Making a nation hostage to achieve regime change is not a moral thing to do nor has it been effective.
Cuba is not perfect and neither is the United States. Our history has been one of constant fight to achieve sovereignty, democracy and freedom. Despite the sacrifice of patriots for a fully democratic Cuba we are still far from that objective. Nonetheless, achieving that is our responsibility and not of foreign pressure.
The United States does not have to be an ideological ally but can stop being a hostile neighbor. In these times of communications and social mobilization, Cubans are more than capable to defend our rights independently. What we need from the U.S. government and its leaders is to stop interfering in our domestic affairs. We hearken back to former president Barack Obama’s words on March 21stt 2016 in Havana:
“I’ve made it clear that the United States has neither the capacity, nor the intention to impose change on Cuba. What changes come will depend upon the Cuban people. We will not impose our political or economic system on you. We recognize that every country, every people, must chart its own course and shape its own model….”
As the president remarked, we share the common past of being the colony of a foreign empire in the Americas. We are sure that the United States understands the value of sovereignty, but your history with our country is troublesome. The majority of Cubans respect and admire your people and its achievements, but we feel the U.S. government has missed time and time again the opportunity to do the right thing and correct a history of wrongdoings.
We know the United States is not the sole responsible of our problems but the economic, financial and trade sanctions imposed on Cuba for 59 years makes it difficult to overcome our differences. The agreement reached by our governments and announced on December 17th 2014 signaled a new period that stimulated our hopes and efforts.
We kindly request that the U.S. administration return to that approach with Cuba. We hope that you recognize that it is in the national interest of the United States to start a dialogue with all sectors of Cuban society, including the government, entrepreneurs, and civil society, always on the basis of mutual sovereignty. Advocating for a normalization of relations can benefit both governments, financially, culturally, economically and politically.
Lifting the U.S. embargo/blockade unconditionally would be a key step and an act of moral courage. Cubans are hoping for it; U.S. citizens would support it, and the international community would embrace the audacity and wisdom of such an initiative.
Given the asymmetry of power between the United States and Cuba, it is your responsibility to take the first step. We call on the moral strength and humanitarian values of your administration. We know that there are those who foster hate and division. We ask that you act on your campaign platform of unity and apply it to the relationship with Cuba. We can learn from past mistakes and make it better this time. Don’t let the Obama policy towards Cuba be an exception instead let it be the new normal.
We are asking that the U.S. government begin the process of normalization of relations with Cuba. This will benefit our society and provide business opportunities to the United States. We ask for you to personally take executive action to alleviate the sanctions, and thus, provide the Cuban people with an opportunity in our pursuit of happiness.
(On the morning of Tuesday, February 9, we sent this letter in English and Spanish to the diplomatic representation of the United States government in Havana and directly to the White House. Whoever wishes to add their signature, can send it to La Joven Cuba on its website’s comments, its channels on social networks or its email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ailynn Torres Santana – Academic and feminist activist
Alan Gross – U.S. Contractor, Retired
Alex Fleites Rodríguez – Cuban-Venezuelan poet and narrator
Alexei Padilla Herrera – Cuban researcher, University of Minas Gerais
Alina Bárbara López Hernández – Historian and essayist, Coordinator at La Joven Cuba
Alina Herrera Fuentes – Lawyer, feminist and anti-racist activist
Antón Arrufat – Cuban playwright, novelist and poet
Arturo López Levy – Professor of International Relations and Politics, Holy Names University
Camilo Condis – Cuban entrepreneur, podcaster and activist
Carlos Alzugaray Treto – Professor and Cuban diplomat
Carlos Lazo – Cuban-American teacher and organizer of Puentes de Amor
Carolina de la Torre – Cuban researcher and psychologist
Collin Laverty – President of Cuba Educational Travel
Eduardo del Llano – Cuban writer, filmmaker and screenwriter
Fernando Pérez – Cuban film director and screenwriter
Fernando Ravsberg – Uruguayan journalist and professor residing in Cuba
Giordan Rodríguez Milanés – Radio and television producer in Cuba
Harold Bertot – Cuban professor, jurist and researcher
Harold Cárdenas Lema – Political analyst, Director of La Joven Cuba
Isabel Alfonso – Professor and researcher, Cuban Americans for Engagement (CAFE)
Ivette García – Cuban researcher and historian
Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada – Cuban professor and jurist
Jorge Perugorría – Cuban actor, plastic artist and film director
Julio César Guanche – Cuban professor, jurist and researcher
Luis Carlos Battista – Doctorate, University of Salamanca
Mario Juan Valdés Navia – Cuban researcher, historian and essayist
Niurys Higueras – Cuban entrepreneur, Atelier
Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva – Cuban economist and professor
Rafael Hernández – Researcher, political analyst and founder of Revista Temas
Rafael Santurio – President, District Cuba
René Fidel González García – Cuban professor, jurist and researcher
Rodolfo Alpízar Castillo – Linguist, translator and narrator
Samuel Farber – Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College of CUNY
Teresa Díaz Canals – Cuban essayist and teacher
Yasmín Portales Machado – Cuban literary researcher and LGBTIQ activist
Yunior García Aguilera – Playwright, founder of Trébol Teatro in Cuba