Oxfam calls on Joe Biden to "normalize relations with Cuba"

HAVANA, Cuba (AFP) — Global charity Oxfam on Tuesday urged US President Joe Biden to work towards normalising ties with Cuba and lift sanctions,

as the communist nation battles its worst economic crisis in 30 years.

Unveiling a report entitled “Right to Live without a Blockade”, it said the sanctions imposed by the United States on the island nearly six decades ago were a “severe obstacle to development for the Cuban population”.

“Today, in the face of the health crisis, Oxfam considers it even more urgent to change this policy,” Oxfam Cuba director Elena Gentili told journalists in Havana.

US sanctions have been in place since 1962. Cuba’s relations with the United States have been at a low since then-president Donald Trump reinforced the measures following a historic but temporary easing of tensions under Barack Obama between 2014 and 2016.

This, along with the coronavirus epidemic, contributed to Cuba’s economy declining 11 percent in 2020 — its worst performance since 1993.

In his final address before stepping down as leader of the Communist Party of Cuba last month, Raul Castro affirmed a “willingness to conduct a respectful dialogue and build a new kind of relationship with the United States”.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at the time the United States was not planning any immediate change in its policy toward Cuba, which would continue to focus on “support for democracy and human rights”.