Former Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer has told US President Joe Biden that the US should lift restrictions on Cuba which continue to cripple the country’s economy.
Spencer was among 18 former prime ministers and presidents of Latin America and the Caribbean, who wrote to express concerns about the situation in Cuba
Cubans are currently facing shortages of medicine and humanitarian aid as well as restrictions on financial services, tourism, and foreign investment.
Spencer and his other colleagues wrote that all of the above have been aggravated by the devastating damage caused recently by Hurricane Ian.
“We ask you, Mr. President, to take into account this dramatic situation that thousands of Cubans are experiencing and to do whatever is necessary to lift those restrictions that affect the most vulnerable. For the same reasons, Cuba also deserves to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and return to the rapprochement that the Obama administration embarked on in 2014 when you served as Vice President,” the letter states
Additionally, limitations on travel, remittances and donations from the United States have harmful consequences not only for those who live on the island but also for Cuban Americans who are denied the right to visit their relatives.
They said the impediments to tourism and foreign expenditure limit the possibilities of economic recovery when Cuba, like all the other countries in the region, is seeking to overcome the impact of the severe crisis caused by the pandemic.
“We would like to remind you, Mr. President, that when a natural disaster hit the USpopulation with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Cuba was one of the first countries to offer medical assistance with the Henry Reeve brigades. In the face of tremendous humanitarian needs which disproportionately impact marginalized communities, that example of solidarity could be reciprocated towards Cuba by the United States government,” the document stated.
The former presidents and prime ministers reminded that not long ago, former President Barack Obama questioned the success of the comprehensive sanctions against Cuba. Although they have since been reestablished, nothing prevents a return to the diplomatic process that led to a new era of relations between the United States with Latin America and the Caribbean that we celebrate in our countries.
“You, Mr. President, were part of that dialogue that opened a virtuous chapter in hemispheric relations and now enjoy the political authority to advance towards its resurrection,”.
For this to be possible, according to the 18 members, it is essential that the State Department remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, to which it was added due to its strict compliance as formal guarantor with protocols established by the Colombian state in peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) hosted in Havana.
“Cuba’s deep commitment to international cooperation and the strict fulfillment of its commitments is a clear demonstration of the country’s adherence to values that have no relation to terrorism. In consideration of all of the above, we ask you to take into account the message that has emerged from various sectors of civil society in the region to not return to the pre-pandemic world, to overcome the current difficult situation that threatens peace in the world, and to ratify the condition of Latin America and the Caribbean as a space of peace on the planet,” the letter stated further.
The letter was also signed by :
1. Dilma Rousseff, Former president of Brazil
2. Pepe Mujica, former president of Uruguay
3. Ernesto Samper, former president of Colombia
4. Juan Manuel Santos, former president of Colombia
5. Evo Morales, former president of Bolivia
6. Martin Torrijos, former president of Panamá
7. Rafael Correa, former president of Ecuador
8. Vinicio Cerezo, former president of Guatemala
9. Leonel Fernández, former president of the Dominican Republic
10. Keith Mitchell, former prime minister of Granada
11. Kenny Anthony, former prime minister of Saint Lucia
12. David Granger, former president of Guyana
13. Moses Nagamootoo, former prime minister of Guyana
14. Donald Ramotar, former president of Guyana
15. Percival James Patterson, former prime minister of Jamaica
16. Said Musa, former prime minister of Belize
17. Dean Barrow, former prime minister of Belize