Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2017 / 02:09 am
President Donald Trump’s changes to U.S. policy on Cuba will end up weakening human rights in the island country, the United States bishops have said.
“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,” said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
“For decades, we have called for the U.S. travel ban and embargo against Cuba to be lifted,” he continued in a June 19 statement.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops objected that the move would affect U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba and would hinder U.S. commerce with entities controlled by the Cuban government.
Last week, President Donald Trump delivered a speech on Cuba policy announcing the changes.
“I am canceling the last administration's completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” the president said, charging that President Barack Obama’s policy ignored human rights violations and the Cuban government’s role in fostering instability in other countries.
CNN characterized the changes as only partial. U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations will continue, and the governments’ respective embassies in Washington and Cuba will remain open. There will be no restrictions on Americans bringing Cuba-produced products like rum and cigars out of the country.
At the same time, there will be strict enforcement of authorized exemptions that allow travel between the U.S. and Cuba. The Trump administration will bar commerce with businesses owned by Cuba’s military and intelligence services.