The Facts: End the Blockade on COVID Support to Cuba

The Facts: End the Blockade on COVID Support to Cuba

Cuba will lift its quarantine and re-open the country to tourism on Nov 15 after vaccinating most of its population with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.

SOS Cuba groups are responding to this monumental day with protests against the Cuban government, asserting that it is the Cuban government to blame for the country's instability that was exacerbated during the pandemic. In reality, it is the US government’s Cuban embargo that has made it so difficult for the country to import and produce vital medical supplies and enough raw materials to share their vaccines around the world to their full production potential. 

The current situation:

  • During COVID-19, the embargo in combination with the economic effects of shutdowns hurt the Cuban economy disproportionately. Due to the US embargo, Cuba was for a time over this past summer unable to administer the vaccines the country developed due to an acute lack of syringes.
  • Thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit organization Global Health Partners, one of only three licenses in years was secured to donate 6 million syringes to Cuba.
  • Cubans are still suffering from a lack of ventilators, PPE, and other COVID-related medical supplies. Even worse, the country is experiencing a shortage of medicine for numerous ailments, including asthma inhalers, glaucoma and scabies medicines, and antibiotics.
  • Despite the embargo, Cuba has now vaccinated 90% of its population and has plans to have the entire population immunized by December 31st, 2021.
  • Cuba plans on providing its domestically produced vaccines at low cost to the rest of the Global South.
  • Cuba has already provided 1 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam, 930,000 to Venezuela, and 100,000 to Iran. They have plans to send 5-10 million more to Vietnam, 12-15 million more to Venezuela, and agreements with Mexico and Nicaragua to provide their vaccine, but none of that may be possible with the US medical blockade. 
  • This blockade has prevented Cuba from acquiring the needed raw materials to produce more vaccines to send to countries in dire need.

The Embargo:

We are calling on President Biden to End The Blockade of COVID aid via executive order:

  • Remove the specific licenses required to send medical supplies to Cuba such as testing kits and respiratory devices to Cuba and end or suspend end-use verification;
  • Lift restrictions on the percentage of US-made material used in foreign produced medical supplies and lift all restrictions on banking and financial transactions related to humanitarian aid;
  • Offer short-term general licenses for those categories of sales or donations, thereby mobilizing aid efforts and making humanitarian licensing a clearer, quicker, more accessible, and more navigable process for those interested in providing relief to the Cuban people;
  • Remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list;
  • Lift all restrictions for Cuban Americans to send remittances to their families in Cuba. 


President Biden has the power to overturn Trump’s Cuba policy today through executive order and end the suffering of millions. Doing so would not only help vaccinate the global population and give Cubans access to vital medicine, but also open the door to better relations with Cuba going forward.

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