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December 16, 2021

Pressley Joins McGovern, Meeks, Lee, Rush, 100+ Lawmakers Calling for Biden Administration to Support Human Rights & Humanitarian Needs in Cuba

Text of Letter (English) | Text of Letter (Spanish)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined House Rules Committee Chair James P. McGovern (D-MA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY),  House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA), and House Energy, Commerce subcommittee on Energy Chair Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) and 113 Members of Congress on a letter to President Biden asking him to prioritize the well-being of the Cuban people as they experience the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in recent history.

The letter was sent just days before the 7th anniversary of the Obama-Biden administration’s decision to normalize relations with Havana and engage with Cuba on issues of mutual interest—a decision which many experts say loosened the government’s grip on civil society and led to increased space for political and social debate and an expanded private sector.

In the wake of this year’s protests, the members urged the administration to support the Cuban people by suspending U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine, remittances, and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people.

“While the embargo allows for the shipment of humanitarian aid, in practice, licensing requirements, end-use verification, restrictions on the banking sector, and fear of unknowingly running afoul of U.S. law severely complicate sending humanitarian aid to Cuba, from other countries as well as from the United States,” wrote the Members in their letter to President Biden.

The members wrote that protecting human rights in Cuba, including the right to protest, is better served by principled engagement, rather than unilateral isolation, which they said has proven to be a failed policy.

“We believe that a policy of engagement with Cuba serves U.S. interests and those of the Cuban people,” wrote the Members, continuing that “engagement is more likely to enable the political, economic, and social openings that Cubans may desire, and to ease the hardships that Cubans face today.”

The full text of the lawmakers’ letter is available here and the Spanish translation is available here.