Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is urging President Joe Biden’s administration to lift the economic embargo on Cuba, which she claims is inflicting further pain on the residents of the island nation.
In a statement on Thursday night, the New York Congresswoman said, “We are seeing Cubans rise up and protest for their rights like never before. We stand in solidarity with them, and we condemn the anti-democratic actions led by President Diaz-Canel. The suppression of the media, speech and protests are all gross violations of civil rights.”
“We also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our sixty-year-old embargo. Last month, once again, the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to call on the United States to lift its embargo on Cuba. The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point,” she continued.
Finally, she added, “I outright reject the Biden administration’s defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people.”
Read the statement below:
We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and condemn the suppression of the media, speech and protest.
We also call for an end to the U.S. embargo and additional Trump-era restrictions that are profoundly contributing to the suffering of Cubans. pic.twitter.com/Fw6Quv5TAN
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) July 16, 2021
Ocasio-Cortez’s statement comes as thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets in the largest demonstrations in years to protest food and medical supply shortages, power outages, and to call for political change.
As the protests broke out, some have called for the end of the economic embargo, which they argue is making it harder for Cubans to access food and medical supplies. Proponents of scrapping the embargo argue it would ease the suffering for the residents of the island nation.
The embargo, implemented in 1962, prohibits trade between the U.S. and Cuba, and some reports estimate that it has cost Cuba $130 billion.
Last month, the U.S. voted against a United Nations resolution denouncing the embargo.
As The New York Times reports, former President Donald Trump hit Cuba with a round of sanctions which Biden has not yet reversed. The paper also notes that Congress would have to vote to end the embargo.
Rodney Hunter, the political coordinator at the United States Mission to the United Nations, argued last month that sanctions “are one set of tools in our broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy, promote respect for human rights, and help the Cuban people exercise the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
While some have argued that the embargo is responsible for the troubles facing Cuba, NBC News notes, “One of the most important factors that has led to years of economic stagnation is the country’s Soviet-style, centrally planned economy and its hesitation to adopt market-oriented reforms that other remaining communist countries have taken.”
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