The Alliance of Baptists
A Statement on Changing U.S.-Cuba Policies
Charlotte, N.C., April 18, 2009
Because of our partnership with the “Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautista de Cuba”, our Christian convictions and our United States citizenship, we urge our government to abandon its ineffective and inhumane polices toward Cuba. Nearly five decades of a trade embargo, restricted travel, hostile interventions and misguided policies have neither encouraged positive changes in Cuba nor honored our nation’s deepest values.
U.S. polices toward Cuba over the last two decades, most notably the Helms-Burton Act and the tightened restrictions on travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans instituted by George W. Bush’s administration, have only added more cruelty to nearly 50 years of shortsightedness. We applaud the Omnibus Appropriations Act signed by President Obama on March 11, 2009. By easing the travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans to once every 12 months with unlimited stays, we take a small yet promising step toward amending past mistakes. The amendment, however, is short-term and needs further support by executive orders and legislative acts to make a longer- lasting change.
To President Obama, we urge the following:
•Honor your campaign pledge to provide general licenses for unlimited travel by Cuban-Americans.
•Remove restrictions on Cuban-American remittances.
•Instruct the Treasury Department to ease restrictions on non-tourist, people-to-people exchanges, particularly for educational, humanitarian, cultural and religious purposes
•Continue your administration’s thorough review of U.S.-Cuba policies, including the trade embargo and its destructive impact on both countries.
To Congress, we urge the following:
•Pass the bipartisan stand-alone bills in both chambers (H.R. 874 and S. 428) that lift all restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Cuba.
To the Alliance and all of its partners, we urge the following:
•Let President Obama know about your desire for these changes in U.S.-Cuba policy. Do so by contacting his assistant for public liaison, Valerie Jarrett, at her web page: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/opl/
•Contact your representative and senators and ask them to co-sponsor H.R.874 and S. 428. For details about these bills and actions you can take, contact one of the Alliance’s partner organizations, The Latin America Working Group, at www.lawg.org.
As followers of Christ in the United States, we cannot ignore our government’s failed policies towards Cuba, particularly as they inflict numerous injustices at home and abroad. We have ample reason to believe that the majority of citizens in both the U.S. and Cuba are ready for the dawn of a new era of U.S.-Cuba relations.
With this statement, the membership of the Alliance invites its board, staff and affiliated congregations to actively seize this unique political moment by engaging our democratic institutions. By so doing, we stand alongside numerous other religious bodies and humanitarian organizations insisting on policies that heal the wounds of U.S.-Cuba history and move both nations forward. By so doing, we honor our covenant to join God’s call “to repentance and faith, reconciliation and hope, social and economic justice.”*
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