Related Press Releases
March 3, 2022
Our Statement on the Resumption of Consular Services at U.S. Embassy in Havana
|WASHINGTON D.C. – Today’s official announcement that the U.S. Embassy in Cuba will gradually expand consular services, starting with limited visa processing for Cubans seeking to emigrate to the United States and in emergency situations, is welcome news amid otherwise dark times. That is especially so for the thousands of Cuban families whose loved ones have been stuck in immigration limbo since staff levels at the embassy were reduced to a minimum in 2017.|
We urge the Biden administration to resume full consular services in Havana as soon as possible. This would enable the United States to support the Cuban people in ways that we could not with a closed consulate. Cuban entrepreneurs, students, activists and other civil society actors would be able to renew productive contacts and exchanges with counterparts in the United States, especially as the pandemic moves to endemic phase. Crucially, a functioning consulate would make it easier for the United States to grant protection, including refugee status when warranted, to members of Cuban civil society who have faced state hostility and repression in recent months.
But resuming consular services cannot be the only step the Biden administration takes to right the course on Cuba policy. For the past year, and most recently in its response to Russia’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine, the White House has repeatedly recognized the importance of tailoring sanctions to minimize their impact on innocent civilians. However, for too long, this administration has allowed its predecessor’s overreaching sanctions on Cuba to remain unrevised.
The mass protests of July 11th, 2021 marked an important turning point in Cuba, but they did not change the fact that broad-based U.S. sanctions, far from helping Cubans’ aspirations for a more open future or alleviating suffering at a time of need, continue to compound their hardships. Even worse, as has been demonstrated by the ongoing mass trials of July 11th protesters, Cuban officials continue to use this policy as a ready-made pretext to label all legitimate dissenters as little more than agents of a U.S.-led siege.
The Biden administration must not continue to accept the false choice presented to it: that all increased travel, contacts, remittances, and other resource flows between our peoples are simply “a reward to the regime.” It is time for further common-sense changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba, even as the United States continues to highlight and hold the Cuban government accountable for its human rights abuses.
As economic sanctions become a weapon of first resort in U.S. foreign policy during an era of renewed great power rivalry, we owe it to ourselves and to America’s supporters abroad to mitigate the harm that sanctions can impose on innocent individuals caught in the crossfire.