Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks at a rally

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) speaks during an event outside Union Station on June 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ocasio-Cortez Slams Biden Administration for Upholding 'Absurdly Cruel' Cuba Embargo

"It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people."

Jake Johnson

Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday condemned the Biden administration for upholding the United States' crippling embargo against Cuba, where people have taken to the streets in recent days to protest food and medicine shortages exacerbated by the decades-old economic restrictions.

"The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point," Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y) said in a statement Thursday night. "I outright reject the Biden administration's defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people."

In late June, just weeks before the protests in Cuba began, the Biden administration joined the Israeli government in voting against a United Nations resolution calling for an end to the longstanding U.S. embargo, which—according to a 2018 U.N. report—has cost the island nation's economy $130 billion since it was imposed in the 1960s. The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the nonbinding resolution by a vote of 184-2, with Colombia, Ukraine, and Brazil abstaining.

Last October, the Cuban government estimated that the U.S. embargo cost the country's economy more than $5 billion between April 2019 through March 2020, the month the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus crisis a global pandemic.

In her statement on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez expressed solidarity with Cubans protesting for better economic conditions and criticized the Cuban government for what she described as "anti-democratic" responses to the recent street demonstrations. But the New York Democrat added that "we also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our 60-year-old embargo."

The Biden administration is currently in the process of reviewing the U.S. policy of economic warfare against Cuba, which the Trump administration intensified by tightening sanctions and declaring the country a "state sponsor of terror"—a designation that inflicted additional damage on the Cuban economy.

President Joe Biden has yet to reverse his predecessor's damaging policy moves toward Cuba, despite growing pressure to do so. During a press conference on Thursday, Biden said he does not intend to ease a policy barring people in the U.S. from sending money to their Cuban relatives on the island.

In recent days, Biden administration officials have downplayed the role of the U.S. embargo in causing acute food and medicine shortages in Cuba, issues that the coronavirus pandemic has made substantially worse. Speaking to reporters earlier this week, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price dismissively referred to the embargo as the "so-called embargo" and refused to say whether the ban on remittances is harming the Cuban economy.

Price went on to claim that current U.S. policy "allows humanitarian goods to reach Cuba," but The Intercept reported last month that U.S.-imposed trade restrictions have contributed to the island nation's struggle "to obtain critical foreign-made medical supplies to treat its own population" and other necessities.

William LeoGrande, professor of government at American University in Washington, D.C., wrote in a column for The Daily Beast on Thursday that the protests in Cuba "should be a decision-forcing event for the Biden administration."

"In the next few weeks, Biden will have to make a fateful choice," wrote LeoGrande. "He can slide Cuba to the back burner of his agenda once again in the hope that the crisis on the island will subside without any U.S. action. Or he can act decisively, announcing a policy aimed at reducing the suffering of the Cuban people by lifting Trump's sanctions—as he promised to do during the presidential campaign."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

'I Don't F—ing Care That They Have Weapons': Trump Wanted Security to Let Armed Supporters March on Capitol

"They're not here to hurt me," Trump said on the day of the January 6 insurrection, testified a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Jake Johnson ·


'Morally Bankrupt' G7 Slammed for 'Caving' to Fossil Fuel Lobby on Climate

"People in poverty around the world will pay the highest price for this backtrack by some of the wealthiest countries," one activist warned of the group's new statement on gas investments.

Jessica Corbett ·


Police Brutality on Display as Protesters Rail Against Post-Roe World

"Both the Dobbs decision and state repression of protest against it violate human rights," said the president of the National Lawyers Guild.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Yeah, And?': Ocasio-Cortez Embraces GOP Freakout Over Helping Women Skirt Abortion Bans

"Republicans are mad because I am sharing this information," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. "Too bad!"

Julia Conley ·


WATCH LIVE: Top Meadows Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Testifies at Surprise Jan. 6 Hearing

Hutchinson, who has spent more than 20 hours in deposition with the House panel, is expected to provide more damning evidence of the role that Meadows played in Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo