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June 16, 2022

Pressley, Cohen, Colleagues Urge President Biden to Ensure Cuba Sanctions Don’t Impede Global Vaccination Efforts

With Cuba Uniquely Positioned to Help Address Global Vaccine Inequities,
Lawmakers Applaud Recent Reversal of Several U.S. Sanctions, Call for
Additional Policy Review

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) led over two dozen of their colleagues in calling on President Biden to conduct a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba and take executive action to ensure basic medical supplies and global vaccine production and distribution are not negatively affected by U.S. sanctions.

The lawmakers applauded President Biden’s reversal of the Trump Administration’s cruel and misguided policies toward Cuba and noted the need for additional review of U.S. policy to facilitate greater global vaccine equity.

“As our nation and the world continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we ask you to explore possibilities for engaging with Cuba on issues of global health,” the lawmakers wrote. “As an initial step, we ask that you review U.S. policy towards Cuba in order to facilitate greater global vaccine equity, with a particular focus on ensuring that U.S. sanctions do not impede current or future efforts by Cuba to share COVID-19 vaccines and related technology and medical support with low-income countries around the world.”

Experts predict a worldwide vaccine shortage of three billion doses this year that will disproportionately impact the Global South. Cuba could play a significant role in helping to combat this global shortage due to its internationally-recognized success in developing vaccines that are inexpensive to produce, less challenging to manufacture at scale, and do not require deep freezing. While the country has expressed a goal of producing and distributing 200 million doses of vaccines to low-income countries facing shortages, U.S. sanctions on Cuba have harmed its ability to both vaccinate its own population and distribute its vaccine globally.

“Cuba’s goal of vaccinating people in low-income countries offers an important opportunity and bridge for our nations to work together once again on urgent health care issues facing the world,” the lawmakers continued. “Accordingly, we urge your Administration to conduct a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba and take appropriate executive action to ensure that basic medical supplies and components for producing and distributing vaccines are not negatively affected by the U.S. embargo.”

Joining Representatives Pressley and Cohen in sending the letter are Representatives Alma Adams, Betty McCollum, Raúl Grijalva, Ilhan Omar, Gwen Moore, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Rashida Tlaib, Donald Payne Jr., Mark Pocan, Jesús “Chuy” García, Henry “Hank” Johnson, Adriano Espaillat, Bobby Rush, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Alan Lowenthal. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mondaire Jones, David Trone, Pramila Jayapal, Cori Bush, Nydia Velazquez, Jamaal Bowman, and André Carson.

The letter has been endorsed by the following organizations: Just Foreign Policy, Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE), Massachusetts Peace Action, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), Global Health Partners, Latin America Working Group, CodePink, Center for Global Justice, Justice is Global, Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, Saving Lives Committee, Doctors4Detroit, Cubamistad, US Women and Cuba Collaboration, Club Cubano de Louisiana, Women Of The Americas, Proyecto Sin Cuenta, LEPOCO Peace Center, Latin America Solidarity Committee, and Cuba Connections.

In 2021, Rep. Pressley and her colleagues successfully urged the Biden 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.