La Jornada highlights demands to Biden on sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela

La Jornada highlights demands to Biden on sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela
Fecha de publicación: 
18 May 2023
Imagen principal: 

Havana, May 18 (RHC) The Mexican newspaper La Jornada today highlighted with big headlines the demands of legislators to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to review the economic sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela.

The newspaper correspondents in Washington, Jim Cason, and New York, David Brooks, report that the political crisis over migration on the US-Mexico border could lead to a shift in US policy towards Cuba, including suspending some of the most extreme sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump.

However, several active and retired US officials warned that the same domestic political calculus persists and has led President Biden to dare not restore even the modest opening promoted by then-President Barack Obama.

Both said that the United States does not have a policy on Cuba, it has a policy on Florida, according to a congressional adviser to La Jornada, repeating what was said by several officials who speak with the White House on the subject and what has been an open secret during decades.

But this month a centrist Democratic federal representative, Verónica Escobar, who represents El Paso, Texas, along with several colleagues from border states, pushed the Biden administration to lift Trump's sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela to address the existing economic pressures.

In Cuba, Trump's reversal of President Obama's diplomatic relations by tightening the embargo with new baseless sanctions, as a sponsor of terrorism, have contributed to the Caribbean country's economic decline, including an economic contraction of 10.9 percent.

Faced with this crisis, the blockade is once again in the debate in Washington. Former White House official Ben Rhodes, who helped develop Obama's diplomatic opening with Cuba in 2015, commented in an interview with MSNBC last week that "our own policies are contributing to this".

“We could have an honest conversation here that the embargo that we have on the island, and the sanctions that we have against Cuba and Venezuela, are contributing significantly to the humanitarian crisis that is driving people to the United States border”.

But it's not just those on the border who are arguing for change. The coalition of farmers, businessmen, religious leaders, and academics that promoted and supported Obama's openness to Cuba still exists and is partially active.

In early March, Democratic U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota once again introduced her bill to lift the embargo on Cuba to the upper house, this time joined by two Republican senators from Kansas, Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, as co-sponsors.

And yesterday, the council in the capital of the United States, Washington DC, approved a resolution condemning the blockade against Cuba, something that has also happened in recent years in almost 30 cities - including Boston, Chicago and Helena (Montana).

Furthermore, state legislatures in Alabama, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota have also passed resolutions in favor of ending the blockade.

In an article published in the Boston Globe in early May, Democratic US Rep. Jim McGovern and recently retired veteran Liberal Sen. Patrick Leahy argued that the embargo is weakening US leadership in Latin America.

The duo points out that the president, by executive order, could reverse Trump's designation of Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism, thereby suspending some of the sanctions justified under that measure. It is an open secret in Washington that Cuba does not belong on that list, and that Trump's decision was politically motivated.

The authors, both veteran politicians, advocate other measures, including the suspension of sanctions in the Helms-Burton Act as every president of both parties had done before Trump, allowing more travel by Americans to the island to support the private sector, and expanding agricultural trade. (Source: Prensa Latina)

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