Cuba Still on U.S. List of State Sponsors of Terrorism

On November 30, the U.S. State Department published its annual list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba is still on the list. Others on that list are North Korea, Iran and Syria.[1]

Here is what the report said about Cuba:

  • “On January 12, 2021, the Department of State designated Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.  The Secretary determined that the Cuban government repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists.”
  • “Cuba was previously designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1982 because of its long history of providing advice, safe haven, communications, training, and financial support to guerrilla groups and individual terrorists.”
  • “Cuba’s designation was rescinded in 2015 after a thorough review found that the country met the statutory criteria for rescission.  In 2021 the Secretary of State determined that Cuba had repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism in the six years since its designation had been rescinded.  Citing peace negotiation protocols, Cuba refused Colombia’s request to extradite 10 ELN leaders living in Havana after that group claimed responsibility for the 2019 bombing of a Bogotá police academy that killed 22 people and injured 87 others.”
  • “The Cuban government did not formally respond to the extradition requests for ELN leaders Victor Orlando Cubides (aka “Pablo Tejada”) and Ramírez Pineda (aka “Pablo Beltrán”) filed by Colombia.”
  • “In November, pursuant to an order from Colombian President Petro, the Attorney General announced that arrest warrants would be suspended against 17 ELN commanders, including those whose extradition Colombia had previously requested.”
  • “Cuba also continues to harbor several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on charges related to political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.”


 As the above report indicates, “Cuba’s designation was rescinded in 2015 [by the Obama Administration] after a thorough review found that the country met the statutory criteria for rescission.” [2] That is still the proper conclusion.


[1]  U.S. State Department, Country Reports on Terrorism (Ch.2. State Sponsors of Terrorism) (Nov. 30, 2023);Despite Havana’s tantrums, Cuba will remain on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism for another year, Diario de Cuba (Dec. 1, 2023) .

[2] President Obama Rescinds U.S. Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism,” (April 15, 2015);U.S. Rescinds Designation of Cuba as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism,” (May 29, 2015). See also “Cuba: State Sponsor of Terrorism?” section of List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: CUBA [as of 5/4/20]. 


U.S. Embassy in Havana Echoes State Department’s Warning: “Worldwide Caution”

On October 20, 2023, the U.S. State Department issued the following Security Alert: Worldwide Caution:[1]  “Event:  Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.  U.S. citizens should:

On November 24, the U.S. Embassy in Havana reiterated that warning with the following post on twitter: [2]

  • “Worldwide Caution Due to increased tensions in Cuba and in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution.”
  • “U.S. citizens should: Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists and commonly used locations for demonstrations. • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas. • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.”

This warning by the U.S. Embassy came “just hours after a massive demonstration in favor of Palestine [in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana] that was organized by the ruling Young Communist League (UJC), the University Student Federation (FEU) and the Federation of Students of the Secondary Education (FEEM). Students from that Arab nation on scholarships on the Island participated, some of them carrying photos of Hamas militia leaders.” Also participating in the demonstration, without speaking, were Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Balart and Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.


[1] U.S. State Department, Security Alert: Worldwide Caution (Nov. 14, 2023).

[2] U.S. Embassy in Cuba, Post on Twitter (Nov. 24. 2023); The US issues a warning due to the risk of a terrorist attack for its citizens in Cuba, Diario de Cuba (Nov. 26, 2023).




Preliminary Comments on Cuba’s Upcoming Universal Periodic Review of Its Human Rights 

As a prior post reported, on November 15, 2023, a U.N. agency will conduct its Universal Periodic Review of Cuba’s human rights over the last four and a half years and in February/March 2024 the U.N. Human Rights Council will adopt a final report on same.[1]

Here is a preliminary review of some of the issues that should arise in that review.[2]

First. Cuba has not signed or ratified the following international human rights treaties:

  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment . This prevents investigations into these issues within the prison system and police interrogation centers.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Consequently, it ignores its two optional protocols and thus prevents the recognition of freedom of political thought, freedom of political parties and the safe exercise of rights of this nature such as those of expression, assembly and demonstration/protest and thus legitimizing the criminalization of these rights.
  • The 2014 Protocol to the Convention on Forced Labor (1930) of the International Labor Organization. The Cuban Government profits from the sale of professional services, while the conditions of the specialists it exports have been denounced in international organizations such as the United Nations itself. For this reason,  Cuba appears alongside China and North Korea as leaders in  forced labor
  • The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which abolishes the death penalty. The number of crimes with this penalty has increased in the new Cuban Penal Code.
  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which prevents a thorough investigation of discriminatory acts of all kinds against women for political reasons, affecting their fundamental rights such as access to forms of employment and full inclusion in society. Independent feminist activism suffers persecution in Cuba and women activists are repressed for trying to interfere in political affairs.

The Cuban Government has also argued that it has not been able to advance further on human rights due to “other priorities” in the country, currently mired in an economic crisis with no way out. The regime denies that there is repression of civic conduct in Cuba. It says that it is not human rights that are repressed, but rather foreign subversive activity through Cubans whom it accuses of trying to end the Revolution, and other arguments with which it criminalizes dissent. But what is a higher priority for a modern State than the promotion, respect and guarantees of human rights?


[1] U.N. Universal Periodic Review of Cuban Human Rights, (Nov. 6, 2023).

[2] Angels, What is the UN Universal Periodic Review and how does the Cuban regime arrive? Diario de Cuba (May 5, 2023); Angels, In permanent evasion: the Cuban regime before the UN Universal Periodic Review. Diario de Cuba (May 5, 2023)



U.N. Universal Periodic Review of Cuban Human Rights

On November 15, 2023, in Geneva, Switzerland, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group of the 47 members of the U.N. Human Rights Council will conduct its three and a half hour peer review of the Cuban human rights record over the last four and a half years. (From November 6 through 14, thirteen other states will go through their UPRs.) [1]

Background for these Reviews

These reviews will be based upon the following documents:

  • National Report: information prepared by the State concerned, presented orally during the review;
  • UN Compilation: information contained in the reports of relevant UN mechanisms and entities to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and
  • Summary of Stakeholders: information provided by other relevant stakeholders including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions, research institutes, and regional organizations, also to be summarized by OHCHR.

The review for each State is facilitated by groups of three Council members from different regional groups, also called troikas, who act as rapporteurs.

Final Outcome of These UPRs

The final outcome of the this session of the UPR Working Group will be adopted by the plenary of the Human Rights Council at its 55th regular session taking place in February/ March 2024. During one hour, in addition to the State reviewed and other States, UN resident coordinators, country directors of UN entities, national human rights institutions and non-governmental organizations can also take the floor.

Objectives of the Universal Periodic Review

The objectives of the universal periodic review are the improvement of the human rights situation on the ground; fulfilment of the State’s human rights obligations and commitments and assessment of positive developments and challenges faced by the State; the enhancement of technical assistance, in consultation with, and with the consent of, the State concerned; the sharing of best practice among States and other stakeholders; support for cooperation in the promotion and protection of human rights; and, the encouragement of full cooperation and engagement with the Council, other human rights bodies and OHCHR.

The implementation of UPR recommendations aims to strengthen national human rights protection systems. In addressing the root causes of human rights violations, the implementation of recommendations can have a preventive effect.


Subsequent posts will examine the documents and meetings regarding Cuba’s UPR.


[1] U.N., Human rights records of 14 states to be examined during a universal periodic review (Nov. 1, 2023). U.N., Universal Periodic Review.

Once Again, U.N. General Assembly Condemns U.S. Embargo of Cuba

On November 2, 2023, the U.N. General Assembly again condemned for the 31st time, the U.S. embargo of Cuba. This time the vote was 187-2 with one abstention. The negative votes were cast by the U.S. and Israel; the abstention by Ukraine. Three other countries did not vote on the resolution: Somalia, Venezuela and Moldova.[1]

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Paul Flambee, after the vote, told the Assembly that the United States “stands resolutely with the Cuban people. We strongly support their pursuit of a future with respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.” He added the following:

  • “Approximately 1,000 political prisoners remain behind bars in Cuba – more than at any point in Cuba’s recent history. Nearly 700 of those detentions owe to the historic July 11, 2021, protests during which members of civil society including human rights defenders, as well as minors of age, exercise their freedom of expression and right of peaceful assembly. We share the Cuban people’s dream of democracy in Cuba and join international partners in calling for the Cuban government to immediately release all those unjustly detained.”
  • “Despite Cuba’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council, the Cuban government has delayed responding to requests to send independent experts to Cuba, who would help advance respect for human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, or belief, and the freedom to assemble peacefully. Some of these requests have remained pending for 10 years.”
  • “Sanctions are one set of tools in our broader effort toward Cuba to advance democracy and promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba.”
  • “We recognize the challenges the Cuban people face. That is why U.S. sanctions include exemptions and authorizations relating to the exports of food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods to Cuba.” In fact, the “United States remains a significant source of humanitarian goods to the Cuban people and one of Cuba’s principal trading partners. In 2002* alone, U.S. companies exported over $295 million worth of agricultural goods to Cuba, including food, to help meet the needs of the Cuban people.”


[1] Lederer. UN votes overwhelmingly to condemn US economic embargo on Cuba for 31st year and urge its lifting, Wash. Post (Oct. 2, 2023); The UN condemns the US embargo against Havana with 187 votes in favor, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 2, 2023); Explanation of Vote After the Vote on a UN General Assembly Resolution on the Cuba Embargo, U.S. Mission to the U.N. (Nov. 2, 2023). This blog has reported on some of the prior approvals  of such resolutions by the General Assembly.  (See, e.g., U.N. General Assembly Again Condemns U.S. Embargo (Blockade) of Cuba, (Nov, 8, 2002).)

U.S. and Cuba Meet and Discuss Various Issues  

On October 10, the U.S. Deputy Undersecretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Eric Jacobstein, met with Johana Tablada de la Torre, [Cuba’s] Deputy Director General for the United States of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to discuss various issues. [1]

Jacobstein stressed that “the Cuban government [must release] the approximately 1,000 political prisoners unjustly detained” and allow “its citizens to exercise their fundamental freedoms. If the Cuban government seeks to improve relations with the United States, it is essential to achieve progress on these human rights issues.” Jacobstein added that U.S. policy toward Cuba “focuses on promoting accountability for human rights violations and abuses and, at the same time, increasing support for the Cuban people, including promoting safe and humane migration, and independent private sector in Cuba.”

Tablada said to media that the U.S. inclusion of Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism “immediately triggered a disproportionate flow of migrants to the United States.”

The U.S. responded that “US law establishes specific legal criteria for rescinding a ‘country that sponsors terrorism’ designation, and that any review of Cuba’s status on the list would be based on the law and criteria established by the Congress.”

Moreover, the U.S. stated it has a primary objective of  “guaranteeing safe, orderly, humane and regular migration between Cuba and the United States.” To that end, “Over the past year, we have taken a number of steps to facilitate such migration, including the full resumption of immigrant visa services in Havana and the creation of a new parole program for certain nationalities, including Cuban citizens. We continue to urge Cubans to follow legal immigration pathways and not risk their lives through dangerous irregular migration.”


[1] USA: If the Cuban regime seeks to ‘improve relations’ it has to advance human rights, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 24, 2023); Torres, Cuba has ‘urgent’ need for sanctions relief, island’s diplomat tells U.S. officials, Miami Herald (Oct. 19, 2023).

100,000+ Cubans Obtain Humanitarian Parole in U.S.   

As of the end of September, more than 100,000 Cubans had obtained humanitarian parole in U.S. [1]

In addition, the U.S. has opened a new Safe Mobility Office in Ecuador where Cubans and others may submit U.S. asylum applications. Under the ‘Safe Mobility’ program, eligible refugees and migrants will be considered for refugee and humanitarian admission programs, and other avenues for legal admission to the United States or other countries that may offer these opportunities.” This program is supported by UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other relevant partners.


[1] More than 100,000 Cubans benefit from the humanitarian parole established in the US, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 23, 2023); U.S. Customs & Border Protection, CBP Releases September 2023 Monthly Update Oct. 21, 2023);The US will open an office in Ecuador to process cases of migrants from the region, EFE Agency (Oct. 19, 2023); U.S. State Dep’t, Announcement of Safe Mobility Office in Ecuador (Oct. 19, 2023); General information about the ‘Safe Mobility’ program.

Congressional Opposition to U.S. Helping Cuban Private Businesses  

As previously noted, the Biden Administration has been developing regulations to allow private Cuban entrepreneurs to open bank accounts in the United States to facilitate their operations and allow U.S. banks to clear dollar transactions originating in third countries that involve Cuban nationals. But those proposed regulations have not yet been publicly announced.[1]

The apparent reason for this delay has been opposition by Florida Republican Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, who has said both in public and in meetings with administration officials that he is against providing any aid to the Cuban government. Díaz-Balart, the chairman of a House subcommittee that makes decisions on the State Department budget, has been for a long time a strong supporter of sanctions against the Cuban regime.[2]

Moreover, the budget bill that Díaz-Balart helped pass in the House to fund the State Department and other foreign aid programs says that the $30 million for democracy promotion programs in Cuba cannot be used “for business promotion, economic reform, entrepreneurship, or any other assistance that is not democracy building.” This bill, however, still needs to be reconciled with the Senate version.

According to a State Department spokesman, however, “Longstanding U.S. policy supports Cuban entrepreneurs and the growth and independence of Cuba’s private sector to maximize benefit to the Cuban people while minimizing benefit to the Cuban government. We have seen encouraging signs that the Cuban government is opening more space for the private sector, and we believe its continued growth provides a window of opportunity to introduce the Cuban people to a different societal model, one fueled by market economics rather than government control.”


[1] E.g., Signs of Increasing Connections Between Cuban Private Enterprise and U.S., (Sept. 27, 2023).

[2] Torres, Proposed policy changes to help the private sector in Cuba face opposition in Congress, Miami Herald (Oct. 20, 2023).


World Communion Sunday at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church Celebrates Its Global Partners

October 1 was the Sunday for Minneapolis Westminster Presbyterian Church’s joyous celebration of World Communion Sunday and its global partnerships in Cuba, Cameroon and Palestine.[1]

The Calls to Worship

The three Calls to Worship were provided in their native languages by Joseph Mukete (a Westminster member from Cameroon), Reinerio Miguel Arce (a Cuban pastor involved with our Cuban partners and the General Secretary of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba) and Rihab Fitzgerald (a Westminster member from Lebanon). Here are the English translations of those Calls:

  • “From the nations of Africa, we come to worship the God whose image we bear, and who created us to be one community, united in love.”
  • “From the islands of the Caribbean, we come to worship the God whose image we bear, and who created us to be one community, united in love.”
  • From the ancient land of Palestine, we come to worship the God whose image we bear, and who created us to be one community, united in love.”

The Call to Confession

 The following Call to Confession was provided by Westminster’s Rev. David Tsai Shinn, who is Taiwanese:

  • “Merciful God, in your gracious presence we confess our sin and the sin of this world. Although Christ is among us as our peace, we are a people divided against ourselves as we cling to the values of a broken world. The profit and pleasures we pursue lay waste the land and pollute the seas. The fears and jealousies that we harbor set neighbor against neighbor and nation against nation. We abuse your good gifts of imagination and freedom, of intellect and reason, and have turned them into bonds of oppression. Lord, have mercy upon us; heal and forgive us. Set us free to serve you in the world as agents of your reconciling love in Jesus Christ.”

The Holy Scripture

Matthew 28: 16-20: “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen’s Sermon: “We Are the Church: Go forth into the world in peace” [2]

“As I enter my final month with you before retirement, I begin a five-part sermon series on the Charge and Benediction I have used to conclude worship every week that I have preached here. I learned it from my father, and always figured he thought it up, only to learn later in seminary that it’s actually from scripture – that’s even better.”

“I heard it every Sunday growing up. It starts like this: “Go forth into the world in peace”.

“That line echoes the scripture text from Matthew 28: ‘Go, therefore, into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’”

“We call it the Great Commission, and that one sentence has had more definitional impact on how the church engages with the world than any other particular part of the Bible. It has had profound impact on the Church and the world. In the 19th century, Christian churches in North America and Europe heard the words of Matthew 28 as a compelling call to move out across the globe to bring the good news of Jesus Christ.’

“So we went. We taught the faith, started churches, set up schools, established hospitals, and spread the practice of Christianity. We also brought Western culture and ideas to those living in the global south and other areas of the world. It was the theological corollary to the doctrine of Manifest Destiny.”

“When Jesus says, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,’ many in the Church mistakenly heard that as ‘all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to us.’ We tended to assume that authority unto ourselves. Well-intentioned or not, the impact of this missionary zeal often caused abrupt, and even devastating change – the opposite of what the love of Jesus would have wanted.”

“Some American churches sent missionaries overseas; others focused on North America. The westward movement of white settlers in the 1800s brought the new nation into conflict with indigenous peoples living on the land. As we know from our history lessons, military conflict and violence accompanied the displacement of first nations. A different, lesser-known kind of violence followed, often with the church’s complicity.”

“The ‘educational’ institutions established by churches in collusion with the federal government were part of a 19th century systematic campaign of assimilation. The federal government aimed to take away Native culture, language, religion, practices, and traditions in order to Americanize and Christianize them. And they started with the kids; we started with the kids. Children.”

“The federal Commissioner for Indian Affairs said in 1886, ‘The government aid furnished (to churches) enables them to sustain their missions, and renders it possible…to lead these people, whose paganism has been the chief obstacle to their civilization, into the light of Christianity.’” (

“Ben Sherman, who was taken as a child to Oglala Community School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, remembers the pain. ‘The government was not done with war,” he said, “So the next phase involved war against the children’”

“At one point in the late 19th century, 85% of school-age indigenous children in this country were living at one of the nation’s 523 boarding schools. According to a report by the U.S. Department of the Interior, “thousands” of children likely died while at the schools. The cemeteries are now being uncovered. Half of those schools were operated by churches under a contract with the federal government, or run independently by religious groups, including Presbyterians. Some of them kept operating through much of the 20th century.” ( schools.html) ( -history/)

“American Christians went ‘into all the world,’ intending to bring the Good News, but the news was not always good for those on the receiving end. Denominations – including ours – are only now coming to terms with what they did in the name of God. Repairing the harm begins with facing the truth and listening.”

“Missionaries brought with them, wherever they went, their predilections and prejudices. The impact of the coming of Christianity was traumatizing in some contexts. Dutch Reformed leaders, Presbyterians from the Netherlands, provided a theological rationale for racist apartheid policies in South Africa, much as Christian preachers had done in this country in support of the enslavement of Africans. Missionaries cut people off from their own language and culture and indigenous religious practices.”

“Jesus did not command us to take children from families and send them to boarding schools and strip them of their culture, their identity. Nowhere does Jesus tell us to reject long-established traditional ways of life that had been sustaining and identity-giving in communities for multiple generations – to wipe all that out, and insist that one culture or ethnicity or race would dominate others.”

“In the 19th century, in an act of ecclesiastical hubris, major American Protestant denominations divided up the globe as if it were theirs alone, in order to be efficient and not duplicate efforts. European Christians were doing the same, and our collective efforts were successful. There are 75 million Presbyterians in the world today; only 1.1 million are in our denomination. On any given Sunday in South Africa and South Korea and in Cameroon, there are more Presbyterians in worship than in the U.S.”

“What about Westminster? We were established in 1857, right at the time when the great missionary movements were gaining steam, and we joined in with enthusiasm in trying to fulfill the Great Commission. We “went into all the world.” In the 1870s our congregation began supporting missionaries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and continued doing so into the middle years of the 20th century. The work centered around education, healthcare, and evangelism. We had a story to tell, faith to spread, information to teach, and help to offer. We don’t know much about the specifics of the efforts of the people we supported, but we can imagine they had both positive and negative effects.”

“The helpful impact of efforts to fulfill the Great Commission is evident in the lands where Westminster engages in global partnerships today. In English-speaking Cameroon, for instance, the country’s towns and villages are covered by a network of Presbyterian schools, clinics, hospitals, and training centers. In Cuba the best high schools in that island nation before the 1959 revolution were run by Presbyterians and Presbyterians have played a key ecumenical role there since the triumph of the revolution. And in the Holy Land, in ancient Palestine, Presbyterians started churches in those places – Syria and Iraq – where we were giving the assignment in agreement with other denominations. We had historic relationships with other denominations in the region, which includes the Lutherans, which led us to partner with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.”

“Our current global partnerships began in early 21st century with a visit to Cuba. That visit marked the shift of our congregation’s understanding of the Great Commission, a movement that had begun in Protestant churches across the north in the latter half of the 20th century. We began to change from the old ways of doing ‘mission.’”

“In Cuba we met a pastor named Carlos Piedra. He had attended La Progresiva, the top Presbyterian school on the island before it was nationalized by the revolution. From there he went on the seminary. Piedra was raised as part of the extended family of our two Cuban guests here today, Reinerio and Dora Arce.”

“When we met him, Piedra was serving as pastor of a Presbyterian congregation called El Redentor, The Redeemer, in the city of Matanzas. We spent several days with him, and he opened our eyes to a different understanding of the Great Commission, new ways of encountering and engaging the world. Piedra helped us see that so often in ‘going forth into all the world’ the North American church defines ‘mission’ by what we think is needed, without pausing to listen to people in other contexts – as if Jesus Christ did not exist in other lands and other cultures until we brought him there. This re-thinking has happened not only in global mission but locally, as well, including right here in our city, in our own outreach beyond the church.”

“I remember how Piedra said to us, ‘We don’t need your solutions to what you see as our problems. We don’t need your answers to what you see as our questions. We don’t want what you think of as your abundance to resolve what you see as our scarcity. But if you want to come pray with us, worship with us, study the Bible with us, eat and drink and dance with us, please come. What we want with you is amistad cristiana, Christian friendship, and solidaridad, solidarity.’”

“He was dismantling – deconstructing – the old way we had been doing ‘mission,’ and guiding us into a new way. That visit set the trajectory for Westminster’s relationships with the three global partnerships that developed and are still active, in Cuba, Cameroon, and Palestine – and also for how we would try to live out our ministry right here in Minneapolis, in the local context. We don’t parachute in to do something that we think needs to be solved and that will make us feel good about ourselves, and then move on to solve problems elsewhere.”

“Instead, we have created covenants with the local partners in each nation, five-year commitments to a defined mutual relationship, primarily about respecting and listening to each other. We agree to share our lives with one another – either in person or, now, through the Internet – as an expression of the love and grace of God.”

“From our Cameroonian partners we have learned the joy of praising God in music and dance. On our first visit to Kumba Town Presbyterian Church there were 11 adult choirs, and they all sang in worship – dancing and praising God. We saw their emphasis on educating children as we visited the elementary school the congregation supports. We visited agencies where they teach young people to develop job skills. We saw clinics and hospitals and their work to diminish the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The Presbyterian Church is strong and growing across the country.”

“From our Palestinian partners we have learned the importance of creative resistance to injustice. When Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem was shot up and occupied by the Israeli military to use as a base for assaults in other parts of the city, they gathered up the colorful shards of glass and created beautiful things. They discovered the power of art as a way to persevere through trauma, a different way of responding to violence that can lead to healing. Today the university they started, Dar AlKalima, focuses on the arts, and thrives in that context as a beacon of a different way through conflict.”

“From our Cuban partners we have learned a theology of resilience. Congregations there have held on and continued to worship God and serve God through many difficult decades. The seminary has persisted in spite of enormous obstacles, and is now planning to expand to Havana, with the help of Westminster’s Enduring Hope capital campaign mission component. The people in our small partner congregation have virtually nothing, so they depend on and support one another. We are part of their WhatsApp group and watch as they seek and offer help, especially around medicine, asking who has a couple pills of this or that, or if anyone has a particular treatment a neighbor needs. It’s like a first-century Christian community, freely sharing the little they have.”

“Each of the churches with which we have developed partnerships finds itself in a nation living with conflict of one sort or another. And each shows bountiful signs of deep, unwavering desire for peace and justice. In Cuba, the longstanding U.S. policy of economic blockade causes significant suffering. In Cameroon the English-speaking minority finds itself in conflict with the French-speaking majority, backed by the U.S. In Palestine, the Israeli occupation supported by the U.S. continues to harm Palestinians.”

“We hear about these struggles and recognize the importance of trying to influence our government’s positions, as we can. The covenants with our partner churches include a commitment to advocate for change in our government’s foreign policy toward their nations, for the benefit of both nations.”

“ When we visit our partners, and then return again and again, and when they come visit us as they are today, we are building bridges of hope for change for a more just world.”

Go forth into the world in peace. Go forth not to dominate, not because you think you know what others need, not because you see yourself at the center.”

Go forth into the world in peace. That line casts the Great Commission in a different light, making it less triumphant, a bit more gentle and modest, respectful, willing to listen and learn.”

“And isn’t that how the church should live here and everywhere! That is what Jesus was after in the Great Commission.”

“We are the church. We are the church. We have a message to share as Christians – and we are called to do that in ways that reflect the love and justice of God.”

Go forth into the world in peace – knowing that Christ is already there, at work in the communities and in the lives of individuals we will meet.”

“Thanks be to God.”




Beautiful music during the service was provided by Charanga Tropical (a Cuban jazz group led by Doug Little, a Westminster member); CamChoir (a Cameroonian choir), which led the congregation in singing a Cameroonian hymn (“Bend Low”), whose refrain is “Bend low . . . and see what the Lord can do”; and by Community Sing (a Westminster choir) led by Dr. Amanda Weber (Westminster’s Director of Worship and the Arts). This choir sang “ Ghanu Lil Hayat (A Hymn for Life) in Arabic and “Santo, santo, santo” in Spanish (the latter’s English translation: “Holy . . . holy is our God. God, the Lord of earth and heaven. Holy, holy is our God. God, the lord of all history. Holy, holy is our God. Who accompanies our people, who lives within our struggles, of all the earth and heaven the one and only Lord. Blessed are they who in the Lord’s name announce the holy gospel, Proclaiming the good news that our liberation comes.”)

Post-Service Reception

 After the service, a reception was held in Westminster Hall to celebrate our global partners with comments, videos, coffee and snacks.


 What a wonderful, enriching worship service!


[1] Westminster Bulletin, World Communion Sunday (Oct. 1, 2023),

[2] Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, Sermon: We Are the Church: Go forth into the world in peace, (Oct. 1, 2023).

Increased U.S. Food Exports to Cuba

For August 2023, U.S. food and agricultural product exports to Cuba increased 35.8%, which is 17.9% higher than the eighth month of 2022, which placed the Island as the 52nd market of those U.S. exports.[1]

According to Cuban economist Pedro Montreal, the chicken exports, both in value and tons, reached all-time records. Other U.S. food exports were pork, rice, puddings, grapes, coffee, coffee extract, cookies, waffles and wafers, beer, palm oil, hams, pasta, corn chips, yeast, carbonated soft drinks, salt, and sugar.

For the eight months ending in August, according to the Cuba-US Economic and Commercial Council, Cuban purchases in the US totaled 232,487,283 dollars, $35 million more than the $197,037,244 in the same period of 2022.


[1] Chicken exports from the US to Cuba reach records in August . . . who do they reach?, Diario de Cuba (Oct. 10, 2023).