President-Elect Joe Biden,
As organizations and individuals that advocate for normal diplomatic relations with Cuba, we are enthusiastic about your incoming administration and the possibilities of improving relations with Cuba, just as the Obama/Biden administration did. We have seen in the past four years how the Trump administration overturned those gains, imposing harsh restrictions that have harmed the Cuban people, made it difficult for Cuban-Americans and others to send remittances to those in Cuba, prohibited Americans from traveling to the island, stymied medical collaboration that could be helpful in combating COVID-19, and harmed U.S. companies that could benefit from trade.
We hope that your administration will mark a comprehensive reversal of those harmful policies and return to the legacy of the Obama administration. Given that most of these policies can be changed by executive order, we encourage you to do the following immediately as a show of good faith and willingness to re-engage with Cuba to promote peace, security and friendly relations:
- Work with the Cuban government to allow the return of diplomats to the respective embassies and to fully staff the U.S. Embassy in Cuba;
- Lift all restrictions on remittances;
- Remove Cuba from the list of countries that do not collaborate in the fight against terrorism;
- Cancel the imposition of Title III of the Helms Burton Act.
Below are additional recommendations for specific policy areas currently severely hampering bilateral relations.
- Readjust the current travel categories in order to allow for the greatest flexibility for Americans who want to travel to Cuba;
- Eliminate unnecessary restrictions about where U.S. visitors can stay and eat while in Cuba;
- Allow for the opening of Cuban travel offices in the U.S.;
- Re-authorize regularly-scheduled commercial flights to cities other than Havana.
- Collaborate with Cuban health professionals in the fight against COVID-19 and in the development of a vaccine;
- Allow the export to Cuba of medical supplies and equipment that can be used in the production of Cuban biotechnological products and equipment;
- Allow broader forms of collaboration in the development, commercialization and supply of medicines and biomedical products of Cuban origin;
- Allow sales of raw materials to Cuba that are needed to produce medicines for the Cuban population and that of other developing countries;
- Authorize U.S. companies to market Cuban medical treatments in the U.S.;
- Authorize U.S. citizens to receive paid medical treatment in Cuba;
- End the policy of intervening in Cuban medical missions abroad to encourage Cuban doctors to desert their overseas humanitarian missions;
- Stop pressuring third countries to refuse the assistance of Cuban medical missions or to abort existing medical missions.
- Allow Cuban entities (including financial and commercial) to open accounts with U.S. banking and financial institutions;
- Instruct U.S. representatives in international financial institutions not to block the granting of credits or other financial advantages to Cuba;
- Authorize the export to Cuba of U.S. products for key branches of the Cuban economy (i.e. tourism, biotechnology);
- Authorize the import of Cuban products to the U.S. in both the state and non-state sectors;
- Authorize the imports into the U.S. of any merchandise manufactured or derived from products grown, produced, or manufactured in Cuba by both the state and non-state sector;
- Authorize U.S. individuals and companies to invest in Cuba in mutually approved sectors of the economy;
- Authorize U.S. subsidiaries to conduct business with Cuba in areas such as the provision of services;
- Authorize U.S. companies to carry out transactions and exports related to the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbon resources located in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cuba;
- Authorize U.S. companies to carry out transactions and exports for the prevention of oil spills in the Cuban Exclusive Economic Zone or in Cuban territorial waters;
- As Cuba does not engage in terror or narco-trafficking, take Cuba off the “Specially Designated Nationals” list, a classification that prohibits Cuban or foreign companies with interests in Cuba from carrying out commercial transactions with the US or with foreign entities in third countries that are linked to the US.