The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America (NCCCUSA) has, for decades, maintained strong collegial relationships with Protestant churches and religious leaders in Cuba. Those relationships led to a consistent NCCCUSA position urging dialogue between USA and Cuba to discover a solution to the conflicts between our two countries and to lift the USA embargo.
In November of 1993 the Governing Board of the NCCCUSA adopted a policy statement which 1) Reaffirms support for restoration of full diplomatic and trade relations between the USA and Cuba 2) believes the President and Congress should end restrictions on trade and travel between the USA and Cuba.
On October 3, 1992, the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops stated The strategy of the embargo becomes even more cruel when what is intended by this method is the destabilization of the government and leading of the civil population of the country, pressured by hunger, to the need to revolt Three days later the Cuban Ecumenical Council said in a statement, We are aware that the blockade is not the only cause of the difficulties which confronts us, and as has been recognized by our leaders, if the blockade were to disappear all our problems would not immediately disappear. However, we are sure that lifting of the blockade would free us to seek solutions to many of our problems
The incidents in Havana during the first week of August, 1994 reveal the accumulated frustration of the Cuban people, whose productivity has been adversely affected by economic errors. The Cuban people have been disappointed that there has not been more political change. Successive USA Administrations also bear responsibility for the current incidents by maintaining the embargo and by placing pre-conditions for dialogue. The USA Government has persistently projected a hostile attitude toward Cuba.
From the beginning the Clinton Administration avoided confrontation and inflammatory declarations. This created hope in Cuba and in the USA that genuine dialogue would take place. Its response to the recent opening of the Cuban borders is therefore out of proportion and has created a sterile confrontation. This is in contradiction to the openness of this Administration to other socialist governments, including Vietnam and North Korea; it is inconsistent with the post-Cold War policies frequently mentioned by President Clinton.
The National Council of Churches believes that it is time for representatives of the USA and Cuban Governments to meet without interference. Solutions are urgently needed to end the long conflict, to benefit the interests of both countries, and to encourage orderly and peaceful change.
We appeal to the Cuban Government to modify its policy and to allow more economic and political improvements visible to the Cuban people. We appeal especially for the liberalization of policies toward rural agricultural workers this increasing basic food production.
We appeal to the USA Government to implement to the fullest the immigration accords with Cuba, allowing the legal entry of up to 20,000 Cubans yearly. Human tragedy inside Cuba should not be utilized as a political tool to push people to violent or risky actions. The people of Cuba suffer greatly from restrictions on family visits and the prohibition of support payments to family members in Cuba. These measures must be removed as a humanitarian gesture.
More urgently than ever, we now appeal to the governments of the USA and Cuba seriously to discuss their differences ad the embargo. We reiterate the appeal made to the USA Government by the NCCCUSAs General Board on November 9, 1993, To create a policy of dialogue and détente with the government of Cuba within the parameters of respect for the sovereignty of nations, which would facilitate political and economic modifications that the people of Cuba wish to implement.
August 25, 1994
The NCC and Cuba