The Department of State will facilitate travel to the country, allow Cuban Americans to send money to family members and ease restrictions on economic activity with the United States
The U.S. Catholic bishops have announced their support for the Biden administration’s lifting of certain restrictions on travel and economic activity between the United States and Cuba.
On May 16, the US State Department announced that it would reverse rules put in place by the Trump administration to renew certain restrictions on business and travel between the United States and Cuba. These restrictions were relaxed under the Obama administration, in an effort to normalize relations with the communist country.
The Biden administration’s new measures would make it easier for family members and “authorized U.S. travelers” to travel to Cuba, remove barriers to doing business with Cuba’s private sector, and increase remittances to families and friends. Cuban entrepreneurs.
Bishops support renewed engagement with Cuba
In a May 19 press release, Bishop David J. Malloy, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops‘ Committee on International Justice and Peace, expressed the bishops’ support for the decision.
“We welcome the administration’s renewed interest in reviving 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,” Malloy said.
“Expanding travel opportunities for U.S. citizens, along with lifting onerous limitations on remittances, will strengthen family, economic, and social ties between our countries. Cuba’s civil society and developing private sector depend on the leadership provided by the active engagement of American civil society in Cuba.
“The American bishops, including the Cuban-American bishops, together with the Holy See and the bishops of Cuba, continue to emphasize the vital importance of bilateral engagement and mutually beneficial commercial relations between the United States and Cuba as the key to transformative change. on the island,” he concluded.
Opposition from the Cuban-American community
The easing of restrictions on Cuba was not good news for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The son of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s repressive regime, Menendez was a vocal opponent of President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Citing the Cuban government’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters last summer, in which more than 800 people were arrested and detained, Menendez spoke out against lifting the sanctions.
“As the Diaz-Canel regime continues its ruthless persecution of countless Cubans from all walks of life for their participation in last year’s pro-democracy uprising, today’s announcement risks sending the wrong message to wrong people, at the wrong time and for all the wrong reasons,” he said.
“To be clear, those who still believe that increased travel will spawn democracy in Cuba are simply in a state of denial,” Menendez said. “For decades the world has traveled to Cuba and nothing has changed. For years the United States has foolishly relaxed travel restrictions arguing that millions of US dollars will bring freedom and nothing has changed. “said Menendez.