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Mr President, it's time to repeal the sanctions that weigh on the Cuban people

A Cuban American war veteran's plea to president Biden to lift US santions on Cuban families
12 Mar 2021 – 09:28 AM EST
Cuban-American teacher, Carlos Lazo, with his two sons and two nephews during their 3,000-mile bike ride across the United States in 2020, from Seattle to Washington DC. to advocate for lifting economic sanctions with Cuba. Crédito: Courtesy of Carlos Lazo.

Dear President Biden,17 years ago, I was a US soldier and I was sent to the Iraq war.

In November 2004, I fought in the Battle of Fallujah. Nearly two decades have passed, but I remember as if it were today; bombs, explosions, blood, and death. Amid smoke and shrapnel, I, a Cuban-American, a combat medic in the service of my adopted country, helped wounded American soldiers and closed the eyes of dead young Marines. What I have done, what I have lived, gives me some right to write to you, to open my heart, even to implore you.

Today I continue to serve the United States but my mission these days does not go through war but through peace. I am a Spanish teacher at a high school in Seattle, Washington. During the last few years many of my students have visited Cuba with me. Seeing these young

Americans share, sing, and laugh together with young Cubans, that is the greatest gift that someone like me could receive; I am son of Cuba and the United States.

Yes, Mr. President, Cuba and the United States are like my mother and father. I was born and raised in Cuba. On that island I met my first love. Years later, in the United States, I founded a family. Here I managed to realize my dearest dreams. My life, like that of so many Cuban-Americans and immigrants, revolves and is nourished by the land where I was born and from the land where I was welcomed as a son. There is no contradiction in having two homelands and wish the best for both.

That is why in October 2020, in the middle of the presidential campaign, we sent you a petition. At that time we requested that you, upon reaching the White House, repeal the sanctions that weigh on the Cuban people. We were motivated by faith and hope. You promised that you would lift the anti-family measures imposed by Trump; that is why we gave you our full support for your candidacy.

During the presidency of Donald Trump, the economic sanctions against the Cuban people intensified. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic Trump limited and prohibited family remittances to Cuba. In addition, he pursued the fuel ships that supplied the Island. It was as if we were living in a macabre alternate reality. While the coronavirus left a trail of pain and death in the United States and the world, Trump insisted on cutting off the electricity to homes and hospitals on the island. While the planet cried out for solidarity and cooperation, the president of the United States persecuted the Cuban medical brigades. While humanity tried to find respite, Trump suffocated the Cuban people.

Mr. President, we are aware of the priorities and challenges you face as you assumed the presidency, but with humility and respect we tell you that one of those priorities must be to modify the brutal and obsolete policy of the United States towards the Cuban people. The current restrictions punish Americans, Cuban Americans, Cubans, and people around the world. In times of pandemic political considerations must give way to human considerations.

Years ago, in the war, I helped young soldiers who could have been your children or mine. I saw my comrades in arms die, they were like brothers to me. I held the hand of the fallen. I raised a prayer to God and closed the eyes of the ones who had died. President Biden assist me. I have the right to ask you, to implore you: help my brothers and sisters on the island! Lift the sanctions that weigh on the Cuban people! For the love of God! Break down those walls and build bridges! Bridges of love!

Carlos Lazo is the founder of Bridges of Love and Fabrica De Suenos