Cuba-US Relations: Pressure on Obama Continues to Grow

May 12, 2014 (Prensa Latina) – Religious leaders in Washington called today for President Barack Obama to exercise courageous authority to improve relations between the United States and Cuba.

A letter sent to the president by a number of leaders of Christian and evangelical churches as well as the U.S. National Council of Churches, the Presbyterian Churches and other congregations urged that he establish immediate good faith discussions with Cuba.

These discussions should consider Cuba’s concerns about Washington’s policies, including the incarceration of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five, sentenced to unduly long and harsh terms for having tried to prevent terrorism against their country.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino and Antonio Guerrero remain in U.S. prisons, serving excessively long sentences for having tried to prevent terrorism against their country. Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez (no relation) have returned to Cuba after having served their sentences, imposed at a biased trial.

The letter from the religious leaders points out that programs such as the ZunZuneo project are ineffective and misguided. In the interest of moving forward to re-establish relations, the leaders called for starting a high level dialogue to discuss a wide range of subjects, including that of the Cuban Five and Alan Gross.

The effort should include the granting of general licenses that would allow travel in all categories, and eliminating Cuba from the list of State sponsors of terrorism, an irritating and unnecessary obstacle to already tense relations that deprives the list itself of credibility.