US Christian leaders call for direct dialogue with Cuba

By staff writers
October 27, 2013

Christian leaders are calling on the United States government to initiate direct dialogue with the Cuban government.

They want to establish a relationship with their Cuban brothers and sisters, pointing out that US-Cuba relations have improved significantly in the last half-century.

Twenty-one denominational leaders have signed a letter to President Barack Obama, which was organised by ecumenical relief agency Church World Service.

Cuban religious leaders will visit Washington DC during the week of 11 November 2013, to highlight the need to develop US-Cuba relations with government representatives on Capitol Hill.

The UCC Latin America office of Global Ministries is sponsoring the visit of the Rev Rhode Gonzalez of the Christian Pentecostal church in Cuba.

"This May, Cuban religious leaders, in a letter to US-based churches, expressed their hope for a swiftly implemented normalisation of the relationship between the United States and Cuba," the leaders say.

"We, their US-based colleagues, share their hope for a more fruitful, open relationship between Americans and our Cuban brothers and sisters."

The US faith leaders praised the president for his decision in 2011 to lift restrictions on religious and academic travel to Cuba, and to allow licensed people-to-people cultural travel.

That move has strengthened relationships with church partners in Cuba, the leaders said, and mirrors what they described as a "time of robust growth for Cuban churches, which has occurred alongside movement within Cuba to increase economic prosperity and political rights."

Black and other faith leaders are calling on President Obama to initiate direct, high-level dialogue with the Cuban government to remove Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism. In calling for Cuba’s removal from the list, the faith leaders noted that "Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism ... [Its] placement on the list is widely recognised as inaccurate and dates to decades-old political dynamics that no longer exist."

[Ekk/3]

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