Take Action: End the U.S. Embargo of Cuba
The CRCNA is a longtime advocate for an end to the U.S.'s unilateral embargo on Cuba by special request from our brothers and sisters in the Cuban CRC. The Free Trade with Cuba Act (H.R. 1887) would finally restore U.S. citizens' right to travel to Cuba and end restrictions on the export of U.S. commodities.
Due to an inconsistent policy relic of the Cold War era, Cuba is only country in the world to which Americans do not have the right to travel without the special permission of the U.S. government. Such travel restrictions have significantly restrained religious freedom over the years: even missionaries have faced the prospect of criminal prosecution by the U.S. government for visiting Cuba without a license. While the Cuban government has a poor human rights record, the U.S. does not restrict travel to other countries with similar or worse behavior: North Korea, China, Myanmar, Sudan, and Iran.
Instead of hurting the Cuban government, the embargo has punished the weak, the poor, and the powerless—particularly children and the elderly. Our embargo has not effected change, it has not been consistent with our other foreign policy, and it has caused undue hardship for the Cuban people by hurting the most vulnerable. It is time to end this policy, but it won't happen without your voice!
Why does the CRC advocate for an end to the embargo?
The CRCNA has a long history of support for Cuban Christian Reformed churches. Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) began working in Cuba in the 1950s but could not maintain a missionary presence after 1960 due to the Castro-led revolution. CRWM continued its support for the CRC of Cuba through periodic visits and financial grants, although both became difficult due to the U.S’s embargo. Today the CRC of Cuba consists of 12 churches and continues to grow despite restrictions on civil society and religious freedom.
For more than a decade, the CRCNA has advocated on behalf of the Cuban CRC for an end to the U.S.'s unilateral embargo of Cuba. In 1998, the CRCNA recevied a request from the Synod of the Cuban CRC for assistance in communicating to the U.S. government how the embargo hurt the Cuban people. "As a Church, the feeling of the majority is that this is an injustice that causes suffering for the very weakest people. For this reason, we condemn it and pray to God that it disappears very soon." To learn more, read Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba, an article from the April 2010 Banner.
In addition, the U.S.'s travel and financial restrictions have reduced the capacity of CRC agencies to carry out their mandate and have disrupted fellowship between churches with long historical relationships. Working in Cuba became even more challenging when the Bush Administration increased restrictions on travel licenses for religious organizations in 2004. As a result, many CRC trips to Cuba in support of our Cuban brothers and sisters had to be canceled when travel licenses did not come through.
In January 2011 the Obama Administration loosened restrictions on religious travel licenses, granting both CRWM and individual churches greater freedom to visit the Cuban CRC. However, to date both travel and financial restrictions remain, and only Congress has the power to completely end the U.S. embargo.
What can you do?
Tell the US Congress that it’s time to end the embargo! Email your representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the Free Trade with Cuba Act (H.R. 1887).
The legislation would completely repeal the restrictions on travel to and from Cuba by U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents and allow the export of U.S. commodities to Cuba.
Ending the embargo is gaining broad bi-partisan support in Congress and among the American public. In fact, many policymakers informed OSJ in recent meetings that they would like to hear from more constituents on this issue. While there is positive momentum to end the restrictions, your voice is crucial in ensuring that this outdated 50-year-old policy is finally ended this year!
We've provided a sample form letter below. Please feel free to personalize it, including why this issue is important to you - legislators respond best to custom emails.