Interfaith group urges Congress to end Cuban embargo

PC(USA) joins call to end economic sanctions, resume relations

March 17, 2016

LOUISVILLE

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined with 23 faith communities in a letter calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to take action on legislation regarding Cuba that would normalize relations and usher in an era “when our peoples and our communities can engage with one another unhindered and with mutual understanding and benefit.”

“We have listened to the call of our partner faith communities in Cuba, with whom we have worked for many years on humanitarian issues, on disaster response, and in sister church relationships,” the letter states. “Uniformly and consistently, they have told us that the embargo brings no benefits to the faith community in Cuba.”

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the PC(USA) General Assembly, added his signature to the letter as a long-time supporter of normalizing interactions with Cuba. On the occasion of President Obama’s December 2014 announcement of restored diplomatic relations, he said church partners in Cuba welcomed the action.

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been working for more than 30 years to help ease the hardships caused by the United States’ economic embargo on Cuba and to end the embargo itself.” said Parsons. “The announcement […] takes us closer to a day when our two peoples will have no impediments to full and flourishing relations. We rejoice along with the Cuban Council of Churches and the Presbyterian Church of Cuba for the good news that will further the cause of peace and human rights around the world.”

Referencing legislation currently being deliberated by the Congress, the March 16, 2016 letter asks for passage of initiatives that would restore regular economic, diplomatic and cultural ties with Cuba.

H.R. 3687 the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would end rules that limit agricultural sales to Cuba; H.R.3055, the Cuba DATA Act, would end limits on telecommunications trade and investment; and H.R. 3238, the Cuba Trade Act, would end limits on trade in general. The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 664) would end any remaining restriction on U.S. citizen travel,” the letter says.

As of this writing, none of the bills cited in the letter is scheduled for deliberation by the House of Representatives.