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The Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE) finds it reprehensible that the Embassy of the United States in Cuba refused to meet with renowned author and civil rights activist Alice Walker. ACERE notes that this is another example of Black and Cuban-Americans being ignored, censored or harassed for supporting engagement with Cuba.

Walker, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, was in Cuba for the inauguration of a statue of Langston Hughes, who traveled to Cuba on several occasions to meet with artists and intellectuals. He also formed a lasting friendship with Nicolás Guillén, considered the national poet of Cuba. A cultural event highlighting the bonds of friendship between cultural and literary icons and our two nations should have been celebrated by the U.S. Embassy, instead they chose to ignore both the event and a prominent Black American who has repeatedly called for an end to the embargo on Cuba.

The snub of Alice Walker comes just weeks after Representative Barbara Lee – another Black woman who has been to Cuba several times and promoted engagement – was ejected from a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee meeting on Cuba policy. The Subcommittee chair, Representative María Salazar, refused to let Representative Lee speak because she disagreed with her political positions, precisely the sort of censorship she accuses the Cuban government of engaging in.

Similar tactics have also been used against Cuban-Americans who favor engagement, including Carlos Lazo, an Army veteran and teacher who organizes the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Cuba through his social movement Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love). In 2022, Senator Marco Rubio called on the FBI to investigate Lazo because Puentes de Amero “advocates for the removal of sanctions…. [and] seeks Cuba’s delisting from America’s “state sponsors of terrorism” list.” Lazo filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee in response.

ACERE further emphasizes that President Biden has yet to meet with Cuban-Americans who favor better relations with Cuba. The Obama era policy of rapprochement was not only hugely popular among Democrats and independents, polls showed that important percentages of the Cuban American community also support normalizing relations. These voices are routinely excluded from the discourse on U.S.-Cuba policy. 

1 Comment

  • Albert A. Fox, Jr.
    Posted March 1, 2024 10:22 pm 0Likes

    To have some one of Alice Walker’s accomplisments and devotion to humanity be refused a vist to the Us Interest Section/Embassy in Havana, Cuba is outrageous to say the least! This stupid/immoral decesion by our/US government should be made public!

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The Alliance For Cuba Engagement And Respect

The people of Cuba have long been suffering under an economic, commercial and financial embargo by the United States that places restrictions on food, medicine, and economic support from relatives. President Trump not only reversed President Obama’s move to strengthen relations but further tightened sanctions against Cuba. Despite high hopes, President Biden has so far failed to bring about a substantive improvement in relations. After six decades of failed policy, it is time to demand a different path forward.

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