http://havanajournal.com/business/entry/maryland_calls_off_trade_mission_to_cuba_amid_strained_relations_with_islan/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Business

Maryland calls off trade mission to Cuba amid strained relations with island nation

Posted April 29, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Business.
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JAY NEWTON-SMALL, Associated Press Writer

BALTIMORE (AP)—Maryland’s agriculture secretary canceled a trade mission to Cuba on Tuesday because of concerns over Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s recent crackdown on dissidents.

The Pride of Baltimore II, a replica of a Baltimore clipper, was to bring the Maryland delegation to Havana on May 24. But the organization that runs the state-owned ship announced Tuesday that it also was dropping Cuba from its itinerary.

“While we are committed to expanding the market for Maryland’s agricultural products, Gov. (Robert) Ehrlich and I share the Bush administration’s serious concerns about making this visit to Cuba at this time,” said Agriculture Secretary Lewis R. Riley.

The Bush administration has repeatedly criticized Castro’s human rights record and the president has said he would veto any bill weakening the more than 40-year-old embargo on the country.

Relations were further strained earlier this month when Fidel Castro’s government sent three men who hijacked a ferry to a firing squad. The executions coincided with an islandwide crackdown on dissidents.

Instead of going to Cuba, the Pride will cruise Dry Tortugas National Park, seven islands about 70 miles west of Key West, Fla.

Member Comments

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On May 05, 2003, I-boulware wrote:

Regarding crackdown on the dissidents:

From information gathered from a man on the ground during a recent trip to Cuba, the three people that were executed had prior violent offenses,  and in their recent incidence, threated to kill tourists during their hijack attempt.  Since tourism is the biggest part of their economy, this obviously had to be nipped in the bud, particularly since it occured after two prior hijackings to the US without significant response from the US.
The individuals that received prison terms were judged to be opportunists just along for the ride to the US.

Bob Boulware
Indianapolis