September 27, 1999
As Chairman of the International Policy Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference, the public policy agency of the Catholic bishops of the United States, I write regarding H.R. 1906, the Agriculture Appropriations Act for FY2000, currently under consideration by the House-Senate conference committee. Specifically, I urge your support for adopting Ashcroft-Dodd provisions in the Senate version of the bill which would prevent the unilateral imposition of agricultural and medical sanctions and permit the sale of food and medicines to Cuba.
Neither this bill nor any other measure before the Congress will automatically hasten the return of democracy and respect for human rights in Cuba. However, by acknowledging the suffering that many in Cuba today are experiencing and offering to reverse, at least in principle, certain measures that have contributed to their suffering, we can send an important and needed signal that we wish no ill to the Cuban people.
The Catholic Bishops of Cuba, as well those as of the United States, are persuaded that the principal effects of the U.S. embargo, apart from providing the Cuban government with an excuse for every failure of its economy, are to deprive the neediest people of essential foods and medicines. Your efforts to end these unhelpful and anachronistic measures are greatly appreciated.
With thanks for your attention to this matter, I am
Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Chairman, International Policy Committee
U.S. Catholic Conference