US bishop reiterates call to end Cuba embargo; gets support in Miami
Published: April 20, 2012
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) -- The relaxation of some travel restrictions to Cuba last year has already had positive effects, but the U.S. needs to go all the way and lift its economic embargo, according to the chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace. That would be a valuable step, agreed Florida Catholics who follow the situation in that country, though some said Cuba itself has to make more major changes, too. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the committee, said in an April 17 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the modified policies "have given but a taste of what truly should happen for the sake of the people of both countries. It is imperative that more must be done to support deepened dialogue and communication between our respective countries." Such communication holds promise of fostering human rights and other positive changes in Cuba, wrote Bishop Pates. He explained that he visited Cuba in March for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI and learned how complicated it is for the church's social aid organizations to function because of the trade embargo. He noted that the staff of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana told him Catholic charitable organizations are advancing a more free and humane society. "To do this work well, these organizations must not be encumbered by outdated policies that only harm the most vulnerable people," he wrote. "All restrictions should be systematically examined and eliminated so that the complete abolition of the embargo and its harmful effects can be achieved. These burdens are not borne by the members of the Cuban governing elite, but rather by the 'ordinary' Cuban and especially by the weakest members of that society."
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