ACTION ALERT: The Human Impacts of the US Economic Blockade of Cuba

August 11th, 2021 - by CODEPINK

ACTION ALERT: The Cuba Blockade Hits Women Hardest!


 (August 8, 2021) — The US embargo on Cuba is causing great harm to Cuban women who are simply trying to feed and protect their families during a terrible pandemic. A recent report by Oxfam shows that women in Cuba carry the heaviest burden of sustaining daily life and that the US embargo causes material shortages, increases their stress, lowers their quality of life, and limits their opportunities.  

Yet instead of working to ease the embargo, the Biden administration and many Democrats seem content to maintain Trump’s cruel policy of maximum pressure, including restrictions on even sending remittances back home. Imagine the US government telling Cuban Americans that they are not allowed to send money to their relatives in Cuba who are coping with a pandemic? It’s disgraceful. 

The Trump administration imposed 243 new sanctions on Cuba, and President Biden himself applied even more sanctions on Cuba in the past weeks. These measures have significantly deepened a Covid-induced economic crisis, leading to shortages and long lines to purchase food and everyday goods. The burden is falling on Cuban women to keep their families fed and healthy. We cannot sit by while US policy, whether implemented by Trump or Biden, causes hardship for millions of Cuban families. 

Why have we focused on these three Democrats? Dr. Jill Biden visited Cuba at the tail end of the Obama administration to deepen ties with the Cuban people as the two countries enjoyed their closest relations in sixty years. Vice President Harris has been focusing on immigration and one of the key demands of Cuban Americans is being able to reunite their families. Speaker Pelosi controls the agenda in Congress and could introduce a bill to end the Trump sanctions. 

Dr. Jill Biden greets the residents of downtown Camaguey, Cuba, Oct. 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Since the protests in Cuba on July 11, the White House and many powerful Democrats have been too eager to appease right-wing Cuban Americans. Instead of listening to Trump’s base, they should listen to their own base and the vast majority of Americans who are against the embargo and supported the Obama administration’s approach of normalizing relations with Cuba. Most importantly, they should place the well-being of Cuban women and families above domestic electoral politics. 

It’s disappointing that these powerful women haven’t spoken up in defense of Cuban families. In the case of Speaker Pelosi, she actually blocked an amendment that would have lifted the Trump ban on remittances! At CODEPINK, we’re going to keep pushing to end this brutal economic war against the Cuban people.

ACTION: Ask First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to tell President Biden to follow Obama, not Trump, by lifting restrictions on remittances, travel and other policies that hurt Cuban families.


Dear First Lady Biden, Vice President Harris and Speaker Pelosi,

We are writing to urge you to change US – Cuba policy and help Cuban families. As you know, the 60-year US embargo hits Cuban women and vulnerable populations hardest. According to a 2021 Oxfam report, women in Cuba carry the heaviest burden of sustaining daily life and the US embargo increases their stress, lowers their quality of life, limits opportunities, and causes material shortages.  

Seven years ago, the Obama administration began a process of thawing relations with the Cuban government. This policy was wildly popular in the United States, in Cuba and throughout the world. Dr. Biden, you were welcomed with open arms during your visit to Cuba and saw firsthand the excitement of this rapprochement. Please speak up for a return to the Obama-era approach.

The Trump administration undid this thaw and set relations back considerably after applying 243 sanctions against Cuba – many of them during the pandemic – as part of his “maximum pressure” policy. Speaker Pelosi, it is within your power to draft and introduce a bill to eliminate the Trump Cuba sanctions, including the ban on remittances and limits on travel, which sanction not only Cubans, but US citizens. 

The Trump sanctions hit Cuba’s energy, finance and tourism industries hardest, leading to blackouts and dire economic conditions that sparked protests on July 11. This year has already seen a significant increase in the number of Cuban migrants who risk a perilous sea voyage from Cuba to Florida. Vice President Harris, one of the root causes of Cuban migration to the US is the embargo, a decades-long policy failure that punishes innocent civilians.   

Dr. Biden, Vice President Harris and Speaker Pelosi, we know that you believe that the United States should not be in the business of harming women, yet current policy towards Cuba does exactly that. Please use your influence to push for a new approach towards Cuba that centers the well-being of women and families. 

In radical solidarity,
Medea, Teri, Leonardo and Michelle

Webinar: “What do Young Cuban Women Have to Say?”

We have a special treat for you on Tuesday, August 10, 6pm ET/ 3pm PT! Three fantastic, young Cuban women will give us their perspective on what is happening in Cuba today, Biden’s policy and what we should be doing about it.

You’ll hear from Yadira Escobar, a political analyst and former House candidate in Florida, Sandra Soca Lozano, a PhD student who recently walked from Miami to DC to call for an end to the blockade, and Liz Oliva Fernández, an award-winning journalist with Belly of the Beast who lives in Cuba. RSVP Here: “What do Young Cuban Women Have to Say?” 

Don’t miss these unique voices of powerful, young women on the island and in the US who want to ease the shortages Cubans are facing, unite families and normalize relations.

PS: This Decemberjoin CODEPINK in Cuba. As President Biden fails to return to Obama’s Cuban Thaw and expands Trump administration policies, it is now more important than ever to experience the Island and her people. Learn about the devastating effects of the 60-year Embargo and what you can do to develop humanitarian projects benefiting the Cuban people as well as how to influence Congress to lift the Embargo. Can’t travel in December? Please consider donating to our youth travel scholarship fund.