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WASHINGTON – The Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE) applauds the efforts of 80 members of the House of Representatives who called on President Biden to not delay executive action and to reverse the Trump administration’s cruel sanctions against Cuba. The letter notes that the Trump policies — implemented as the Cuban people faced acute shortages of food and medicine tied to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — can be reversed with “a stroke of the pen.” The letter also calls on Biden to seek an end to the six decades-long embargo — one of the largest groups of members of Congress to ever make that demand.  The letter was sent after the Biden administration announced anunprecedented review of the impact of U.S. sanctions policies on countries – including Cuba – as they battle the impact of COVID-19.

The newly-formed ACERE coalition was a driving force in creating grassroots support for the letter, organizing hundreds of emails and calls from constituents and advocates to their representatives.  

“This strong show of support so early in the Biden administration shows that Congress will be a force for change in U.S. policy towards Cuba,” said Elena Freyre, a longtime Cuban-American advocate for ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, with FORNORM and ACERE. “Broad sectors of U.S. society support normalization with Cuba, including Cuban-Americans, agricultural producers and the business community, and citizens across the political spectrum. With support from champions in Congress, we are confident that this can be the administration that finally brings the failed embargo policy to a close.”

“This letter is a sign of a sea change on Cuba policy in Congress, particularly given its support from all flanks of the Democratic Party and from a dozen influential members of House leadership, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks and Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro,” said Erik Sperling, executive director of the advocacy group Just Foreign Policy, that helped to initiate the letter.

The letter names several immediate moves that the Biden administration can take to alleviate sanctions on Cuba imposed by Trump, such as removing caps on remittances by Cuban-Americans and restoring travel exemptions that allowed the people of the U.S. to visit Cuba for people-to-people exchanges.  The Congressmembers also urged the Biden administration to immediately retract the “politicized decision by the departing Trump Administration” to name Cuba as a state sponsor of terror — a baseless move that was widely condemned.Beyond that, the letter lays out how to rekindle the path towards normalization, including restarting high-level bilateral dialogue, re-staffing embassies, and renewing working groups that were formed during the Obama administration on a wide range of key shared interests.

The letter also highlights Cuba’s widely lauded medical missions to underserved countries, and urges the U.S. to restore medical cooperation with Cuba, citing as an example the Obama administration joint response to the Ebola crisis in Africa. The letter also urges an end to efforts to undermine Cuba’s medical missions and discourage impoverished countries from accepting assistance from Cuban doctors.

The letter concludes by insisting that these steps should be part of a process that seeks an end to the “harmful and extra-territorial ‘embargo’ (also called an ‘economic blockade’)”. It cites polls showing that the people of the U.S. support an end to the embargo, and highlights the “28 years of consecutive votes condemning [the embargo] by nearly all members of the U.N. General Assembly, including our allies.”

“We thank our congressional representatives for speaking up in this letter to President Biden urging him to act quickly, boldly and broadly to end the cruel and inhumane economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed on the Cuban people,” said Angélica Salazar, a Steering Committee member of ACERE. “We must remain ‘impatient’ and strong, as Rep. McGovern noted,  in maintaining our grassroots pressure on both the Biden administration and on Congress. ACERE and our alliance members are committed to helping end the U.S. embargo on Cuba in 2021. Our national movement is growing!”

The full text of the letter and list of signers can be found here.