US Bishops Welcome Biden Administration’s Easing of Cuba Sanctions

The U.S. bishops’ chairman on international justice and peace on Thursday lauded the government’s decision to ease sanctions on Cuba.

Official relations between the U.S. and Cuba were severed in 1959, with sanctions imposed.
Official relations between the U.S. and Cuba were severed in 1959, with sanctions imposed. (photo: Unsplash)

The U.S. bishops’ chairman on international justice and peace on Thursday lauded the government’s decision to ease sanctions on Cuba. 

“We commend the administration’s renewed interest in restarting U.S. engagement with Cuba. Recognizing that points of contention remain between our two countries, Cuba’s punitive isolation has not produced the economic and social change that the United States has sought to effect,” Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, Illinois, said May 19.

The Biden administration announced earlier this week that caps on family remittances sent to Cuba will be lifted, gifts to non-family members will be allowed, family-reunification programs will be restarted, and travel to the island will be be more readily available.                

“The expansion of travel opportunities for U.S. citizens, as well as the lifting of onerous remittance limitations, will strengthen familial, economic and social ties between our countries. Cuba’s developing civil society and private sector depend on the leadership provided by active U.S. civil society engagement in Cuba,” Bishop Malloy commented.

“The U.S. bishops, including the Cuban-American bishops, in conjunction with the Holy See and the bishops of Cuba, continue to stress the vital importance of bilateral engagement and mutually beneficial trade relations between the United States and Cuba as the key to transformative change on the island,” he said.

Official relations between the U.S. and Cuba were severed shortly after communist rule on the island was established in 1959 and the U.S. imposed an an embargo on travel and trade.

The Obama administration began making small changes to these policies in 2009 and restored diplomatic relations, but many of the changes were reversed under the administration of Donald Trump.

Protests took place across Cuba in July 2021 over concerns about inflation, shortages of food and medicine, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Some protesters were beaten, and thousands were arrested. Many demonstrators remain imprisoned.

Several U.S. lawmakers have opposed the easing of sanctions announced by the Biden administration.

“The Biden White House is rewarding the Western Hemisphere’s longest-ruling communist dictatorship with high-level talks, easing sanctions, increased travel, and access to U.S. financial institutions,” read a May 16 joint statement from Sen. Marco Rubio and four other senators, who were joined by five House members. “Appeasing Cuba’s murderous regime … undercuts America’s support for Cuba’s democratic opposition.”

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