Letter on Travel Ban

October 31, 2003

The Honorable Bill Frist
Russell Senate Office Building 416
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Frist,

As you may be aware, the bishops of the Catholic Church, both here and in Cuba, have long expressed their opposition to the various sanctions imposed by our government against Cuba. Periodic efforts to lift these sanctions have been welcomed by both.

We are under no illusion that the end of sanctions will usher in a time of economic prosperity for the Cuban people, or will automatically end the violations of human rights and the restrictions on religious freedom. We do believe, however, that retaining the sanctions continues to hurt only the most vulnerable sectors of that society and provides the regime with propaganda advantages it does not deserve.

Current efforts in both houses of Congress to lift the restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens represent a welcome step in repairing a largely unsuccessful policy. It continues to be our conviction that, despite official Cuban rhetoric to the contrary, the Cuban government fears the end of the embargo far more than any strengthening of it.

We would greatly appreciate your firm leadership in preventing the will of majorities in both houses from being frustrated again, and move to end this unhelpful restriction on freedom to travel.

With thanks and best wishes, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy