Statement on United States – Cuba Relations, December 2014

We, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom - US Section (WILPF US), applaud President Barack Obama for moving to restore full diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba for the first time in over fifty years. Those years revealed a failed policy by the US, and some remarkable achievements by the small, struggling nation of Cuba.

We also commend the President and other parties involved for the release of the last of the Cuban Five.  This culminates a 16-year struggle for freedom and truth for the men known in Cuba as the Five Heroes. Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Gerardo Hernandez and Fernando Gonzalez are heroes for infiltrating US based anti-Cuba organizations, to stop activities by the US that are illegal even under US laws. Their imprisonment led to an international campaign, of which WILPF US was part, to expose the true illegal war; a “soft war” of subversion against the Cuban government and its people, led by those groups and funded by the US government.

This 2014 US-Cuba agreement is accompanied by a prisoner exchange, and plans for the opening of embassies in each other’s countries, an easing of travel restrictions, easing of financial exchanges and remittances from the US to Cuban nationals and expanded commerce. Of great importance is President Obama’s instruction to Secretary of State Kerry to initiate a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism and report on this within six months. Cuba was placed on the list in 1982.

However, much remains to be done and to be considered if the US is to truly engage Cuba as a sovereign nation. The US is waging an economic war on Cuba. Congress must end the trade embargo as well as repeal the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, which penalizes foreign companies for trading with Cuba. The US must remove Cuba from the nations on the US State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and must respect Cuba’s granting of political asylum for people such as Assata Shakur, viewed by many as a symbol of the US Black Liberation Movement. The United States must close Guantanamo prison and the US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay must be returned to Cuba.  Furthermore, we must not permit our government to use the banner of human rights to continue to try to destabilize Cuba, or to interfere in its governance.

WILPF US and WILPF International have supported the sovereignty of Cuba, the rights of self determination for the Cuban people and the lifting of the US blockade against Cuba that has been in place since 1960 (trade embargo except medicine and food and then total trade embargo in 1962). The Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Issues Committee of WILPF US has promoted dialogue and people-to-people exchanges with Cuba and Latin American countries through travel, education and advocacy. Our work with the Federation of Cuban Women highlights the role of women in bringing peace to the region. We are very pleased to see that such sharing of communities will now be enhanced.

We in WILPF US stand committed to the rights of the people of Cuba and to the sovereignty of their nation. We must work to ensure that the United States will continue to seek ways to cooperate with all nations in our hemisphere, in a manner of respect and mutual benefit. As WILPF celebrates our centennial anniversary in 2015 in The Hague, we look forward to working for peace and justice globally, particularly in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.

PHOTO: Street in Trinidad, Cuba by Y. Becart
3/22/2014, Creative Commons

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