The latest U.S. sanctions on Cuba has been widely reported as a prohibition on the importation of rum and cigars as well as increasing the number of hotels in which U.S. travelers are not allowed to stay. These restrictions are a continuation of the 2019 Trump ban on cruise ship travel and eliminating much educational and cultural travel.
But the greater and more troublesome impact is the prohibition on “persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction” from attending professional meetings and conferences in Cuba. Furthermore, the general licenses allowing participation in cultural performances, clinics, athletic and other competitions are now prohibited.
While these measures are purportedly aimed at financially harming the Cuban people, they more importantly deny the rights of U.S. citizens to travel, study, and interact with Cubans on both academic and personal levels. The implications of this are far greater than election year campaign gestures. By forbidding U.S. participation in conferences and meetings with their Cuban counterparts, scientific and academic research and collaboration are jeopardized.
For example, Cuba’s medical advances in the treatment of Covid-19 are well known internationally and people in the United States could greatly benefit should they have access to Cuban drugs and treatments. Members of Cuba’s Henry Reeve Brigade are providing medical care in over two dozen countries and employing effective treatments not available in the United States solely due to U.S. policy. Right now on the 15th anniversary of the Henry Reeve Brigade it is important to recall that Cuba offered its medical crisis expertise to the U.S. during Hurricane Katrina, and that this humanitarian offer which has since been gratefully welcomed around the globe was rejected by the U.S.
The comparison between U.S. and Cuba Covid-19 deaths is stunning. The U.S. has more than 7 million cases and over 200,000 deaths; a rate of 610 per million. Cuba’s death rate is 10 per million. How many people in the United States are aware of this? We need to consider how many people could potentially benefit from access to the medicines, treatments, and approach of the Cuban health care system.
These regulations will make it even more difficult for people in the United States to learn first-hand about Cuba; to learn from Cubans about their revolution; to see the achievements of the Cuban revolution; to experience a society focused on human needs; so different from the United States reality.
These new sanctions are about much more than hotels, rum, and cigars. They are about denying the rights to exchange ideas, engage in mutual education, and express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Cuba.
The U. S. policy toward Cuba has failed for 60 years. Cuba has, for 60 years, rejected the hostile United States policy and never compromised its principals. The NNOC has a 30 year history of solidarity with Cuba and supporting Cuban sovereignty. We will continue this solidarity; we will continue to visit Cuba, we will continue to learn from the Cuban example, we will continue to demand an end to the economic, commercial, and financial blockade of Cuba.