Statement on Cuba Policy Changes by Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. June 19, 2017.
On the eve of my pastoral visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban bishops, I was saddened to learn that President Trump scaled-back our country’s bilateral engagement with the island nation. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in solidarity with the bishops of Cuba and the Holy See, has long held that human rights and religious freedom will be strengthened through more engagement between the Cuban and American people, not less. For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted.
In my capacity as international chairman, I urge that as the implementing regulations are drafted the President consider the ramifications for many ordinary Cubans who have taken advantage of new opportunities to support their families. The President is correct; serious human rights concerns persist. The Cuban government must be urged to respect religious freedoms and to extend greater social, political and economic rights to all Cubans. The fruits of investment in Cuba should benefit individuals and families, and not the security forces.
Pope Francis helped our nations to come together in dialogue. It is important to continue to promote dialogue and encounter between our neighboring nations and peoples.