Over the last year and a half, the Trump administration has taken significant measures to undo the progress made in Cuban-American relations this century.
In the past few months administration has gutted several policies of engagement with Cuba, limiting consular services to U.S. citizens and residents and compelling Cubans applying for non-immigrant visas who wish to visit family, or engage in religious, scientific, academic or cultural exchanges with the United States to travel elsewhere to apply. This action makes it impossible for many Cubans to visit the United States. Because of limited financial resources, many are unable to travel to neighboring countries to apply for visas. This undue hardship means that, lamentably, ordinary Cubans will not be able to visit family members.
An urgent concern to religious communities and people of faith in the U.S. is that the Administration is looking at ending the “general license” for travel to Cuba, including for religious purposes. Replacing the general license for religious travel with the requirement to apply for specific licenses will result in significantly reduced religious visits to Cuba churches and religious communities
In January, 16 faith groups, including the PC(USA), sent a letter to the Trump administration addressing concerns about travel and restrictions on the embassies.
However, the administration’s policies have only become more aggressive in recent weeks. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s national security advisor John Bolton have said that these actions are meant to pressure Cuba to withdraw its support for Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela and to compel internal changes in Cuba. According to research and advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), this punitive approach is unlikely to change Cuban policy on Venezuela or force change in Cuba itself. It will only cause greater suffering for Cubans.
In late April 2019, the administration ended decades-long U.S. policy towards Cuba by allowing U.S. citizens to file lawsuits over property seized after the 1959 revolution, while also expanding restrictions on remittances and non-family travel to Cuba. Remittances, the amount of money that can be transferred, have been capped to $1,000 every three months compared to the unlimited remittances allowed under the Obama administration. “Capping remittances is mean-spirited and can only be understood as the U.S. government’s attempt to create economic hardship among the Cuban people,” said Emily Mendrala, executive director of the Center for Democracy in the Americas and former national security advisor under Obama.
On Twitter, the President has threatened a “full and complete” embargo and “highest sanctions” against Cuba
Please contact your representatives today to encourage them to resist these restrictions on travel and communication and maintain the progress we have made towards a true global community.