Witness for Peace condemns the Trump Administration’s policy changes towards Cuba. The roll-back of steps towards normalization clearly demonstrates the President’s blatant disregard for the interests of people in the U.S. and for the sovereignty of Cuba.

Polls indicate that the majority of people in the U.S. on both sides of the aisle favor rapprochement with Cuba. Even Cuban Americans, historically the demographic that has taken the hardest line on Cuba, increasingly support lifting the embargo/blockade and the travel ban. President Trump’s decision to retreat to draconian sanctions will have damaging effects on many areas of both Cuban and US societies, especially as the Cuban government has signaled willingness to enter negotiations to avoid this catastrophic move.

Below we’ve summarized some of the areas that will be most impacted:

US Economy

Engage Cuba has highlighted that tightening sanctions on Cuba will result in $6.6 billion in losses to the U.S. economy and over 12,000 US jobs. Furthermore, as the rest of the world opens to Cuba as a potential market, the US will be left out of many business opportunities with the island.

Cuban Economy

Equally as concerning is the hit that the Cuban economy will take from these reforms. As just one example, AirBnB reported that Cubans families have earned over $40 million by renting their homes to visitors from the US since travel restrictions were loosened in March 2016. Stifling the flow of US travelers will significantly impact the many families that have come to depend on these wages.

Healthcare

In October, the Obama Administration had authorized the FDA testing of several important Cuban pharmaceuticals, including a lung cancer vaccine and a medication to prevent diabetic foot ulcers, with the hope that they would eventually be sold on the US market. Trump’s refusal to engage with any level of the Cuban government will bring this important testing to a halt and deprive people in the US of medications that could potentially prevent amputations, cancer and in some cases, even save their lives.

National Security

The nine accords that the two countries arrived at during the Obama Administration regarding national security, including human trafficking, air safety, counter-terrorism and drug trafficking, are also at risk. Furthermore, as Russia’s plans to build military bases on Cuban soil, the US isolationist approach will provide an open door for other nations to take advantage of the geopolitical foothold with the US’s neighbor.

Human Rights

As all US administrations following the Cuban revolution, Trump has cited Cuba’s human rights record as the motivating factor for tightening restrictions on the nation. But Trump’s hypocrisy and active disregard for human rights is evidenced by both his domestic policies, as well as his expressed admiration for governments committing much graver human rights abuses. Furthermore, the greatest irony of this long-standing argument for sanctions is that the policy has done nothing to advance human rights over decades, and, in fact, implicates the United States in creating a humanitarian crisis on the island.

However, the struggle for justice continues. And you can help.

Our partners at the Latin American Working Group have detailed some steps you can take to push congress towards engagement with Cuba. See if your representative has signed on to pro-Cuba legislation.

Travel to Cuba with Witness for Peace on a licensed people-to-people delegation to see firsthand the effects of US policy on the island and organize with other activists.

In Solidarity and Resistance,

WFP Staff