Dear President Joe Biden,
August 9, 2022
Now more than ever, it’s time to write a new page in U.S.-Cuban relations. We are making an urgent, public appeal to you to reject the cruel policies put into place by the Trump White House that have already created so much suffering among the Cuban people.
On Friday, August 5th, a major oil storage facility in Matanzas, Cuba, 65 miles east of Havana, was hit by lightning. Since then, an enormous fire has been raging. This tremendous explosion and hard-to-control fire have left several people missing (including firefighters), many injured with severe burns, and hundreds evacuated from their homes.
This fire, the largest in Cuban history, comes when Cuba is undergoing an energy crisis due to soaring global fuel costs and aging infrastructure. This oil tank fire will undoubtedly only further exacerbate the electricity outages that Cubans suffer during this hot summer. The resources that the government will be forced to put into disaster response will also have a negative impact on the general well-being of Cubans amid sanctions imposed by the Trump administration and continued under your administration.
Despite the words of condolence and the offer of technical advice, the U.S. government has done very little to aid the people of Cuba in their greatest moment of need. Unfortunately, U.S. sanctions fuel the fires that rage in Cuba! Despite assurances by the U.S. Embassy in Havana that the law authorizes U.S. entities and organizations to provide disaster relief and response, Trump’s 243 sanctions continue to prevent urgently needed aid from arriving in Cuba.
When your neighbor’s house is on fire, the normal human reaction is to rush next door to help. To save lives. To extinguish the flames. Cuba is our neighbor.! It is unconscionable, especially during a tragic accident, to block remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions, given that access to dollars is necessary to import food and medicine.
Time is of the essence. The administration should lift all sanctions that prevent Cuba, directly or indirectly, from receiving essential medical, humanitarian, and environmental relief or receiving financial and other assistance from other nations or organizations in the U.S. This includes removing Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. We also urge you to coordinate immediately with relevant U.S. agencies to provide the direct and urgent assistance that Cuba requests.
Claudia De la Cruz
Jennifer Ponce De Leon
Rev. Liz Theoharis
Manolo De Los Santos
Robin D.G. Kelly
Ruth Wilson Gilmore
Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro
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