Originally posted on Feb 16, 2015,
IFCO applauds the bold steps taken by Senators Klobuchar, Enzi, Stabenow, Flake, Leahy, and Durbin to repeal the US trade embargo that is responsible for the economic distress of millions of Cuban citizens in Cuba. As one of the leading organizations in the US that has been working to bring an end to the immoral and unjust US economic blockade of Cuba we are pleased to share information about this important legislative initiative. For more than two decades IFCO has boldly travelled to Cuba without a US government license to deliver humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through our US-Cuba Friendshipment caravans, construction brigades and educational delegations.
While our Friendshipment caravans have delivered countless tons of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people as a nonviolent direct challenge to the brutal US economic blockade of Cuba, we are under no illusions that the aid we deliver can ever meet the demands of the Cuban people. We believe that only the lifting of the US blockade against Cuba can guarantee the survival and the prosperity of the Cuban people.
The Freedom to Export to Cuba Act aims to make economic opportunities for US businesses and farmers by boosting US exports and allow Cubans greater access to goods manufactured in the US. The bill would also eliminate the restriction of “cash in advance” which has made it impossible for Cuba to buy emergency supplies from the US and allow Cuba to purchase goods with the same access to credit as other nations. Goods include construction materials, medical equipment, medicine, school materials, and more. These are the kinds of goods that IFCO/Pastors for Peace, with the support of its international network of supporters, has been collecting over the past 23 years to try to bring some relief to the people of Cuba.
We at IFCO know ,despite the President’s announcement and these laudable steps taken by members of Congress, our work is not done. We believe that in addition to ending the blockade and the travel ban, Cuba deserves to be taken off the list of countries that sponsor terrorism; the US-occupied Guantanamo Naval Base should be returned to Cuba; the wet foot/dry foot policy that encourages illegal and dangerous migration from Cuba to the United States should be repealed; and finally, the US government should stop funding USAID projects aimed at undermining the Cuban government.
Those of us who have been working for years to express love and solidarity with the people of Cuba can rightfully take credit for the US government’s current change in attitude toward Cuba, but it is a mistake to think our work is over. It is critical at this important time that we stay the course.