Posted October 10, 2003 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
Courtesy of the Latin American Working Group
Greetings. Following are: the transcript of President Bush’s comments
Cuba delivered a hour ago at the White House, plus response press
from the Latin America Working Group, Washington Office on Latin
and the Cuban Committee for Democracy.
More later on the Senate travel initiative and response to the
Latin America Working Group
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 10, 2003
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON CUBA
The Rose Garden
11:03 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hola. Sientese. Thank you for coming. Welcome to the
Garden. It’s my honor to host you for an important policy announcement.
I’m proud to be joined by our great Secretary of State Colin Powell and
a son of Cuba, a graduate of the Pedro Pan program—(applause)—Mel
Martinez. (Applause.) I’m also pleased to be joined with other members of my administration who will be charged with implementing
From the Department of Homeland Security, Under Secretary Asa
with us today. (Applause.) From the Treasury Department, Rick
Director of the Office of Foreign Asset Control, is with us today.
thank you for coming. (Applause.) Assistant Secretary for the Western
Hemisphere, Roger Noriega is with us today. (Applause.) Y, por fin,
my staff, Envoy Otto Reich. (Applause.)
As well, we’re honored to have distinguished members of the Congress
us, starting with the very capable and able Senator from the state of
Virginia, George Allen. (Applause.) Bienvenidos, Jorge. (Laughter.)
From the state of Florida, Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
su hermano, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. (Applause.) Ileana
Ros-Lehtinen. (Applause.) And Porter Goss. Thank you for coming.
honored you all are here. (Applause.)
The Secretary mentioned to me that Bob Dole is with us. Bob Dole is
One hundred and thirty-five years ago today, the struggle for Cuban
began at a sugar mill near Manzanillo. Carlos Manuel de Cespedas—
as the Father of the Homeland—led an uprising against colonial rule.
Today, the struggle for freedom continues—it hasn’t ended—in
and towns of that beautiful island, in Castro’s prisons, and in the
every Cuban patriot. It is carried on by brave dissidents like Oscar
Biscet, Marta Beatriz Roque, Leonardo Bruzon Avila.
Last year in Miami, I offered Cuba’s government a way forward—a way
forward toward democracy and hope and better relations with the United
States. I pledged to work with our Congress to ease bans on trade and
between our two countries if—and only if—the Cuban government
free and fair elections, allowed the Cuban people to organize, assemble
to speak freely, and ease the stranglehold on private enterprise.
Since I made that offer, we have seen how the Castro regime answers
diplomatic initiatives. The dictator has responded with defiance and
contempt and a new round of brutal oppression that outraged the world’s
In April, 75 peaceful members of Cuban opposition were given harsh
sentences, some as long a 20 years. Their crimes were to publish
newspapers, to organize petition drives, to meet to discuss the future
their country. Cuba’s political prisoners subjected to beatings and
solitary confinement and the denial of medical treatment. Elections in
are still a sham. Opposition groups still organize and meet at their
peril. Private economic activity is still strangled. Non-government
unions are still oppressed and suppressed. Property rights are still
ignored. And most goods and services produced in Cuba are still
for the political elites.
Clearly, the Castro regime will not change by its own choice. But Cuba
change. So today I’m announcing several new initiatives intended to
the arrival of a new, free, democratic Cuba. (Applause.)
First, we are strengthening re-enforcement of those travel restrictions
Cuba that are already in place. (Applause.) U.S. law forbids
travel to Cuba for pleasure. That law is on the books and it must be
enforced. We allow travel for limited reasons, including visit to a
to bring humanitarian aid, or to conduct research. Those exceptions
often used as cover for illegal business travel and tourism, or to
restrictions on carrying cash into Cuba. We’re cracking down on this
I’ve instructed the Department of Homeland Security to increase
of travelers and shipments to and from Cuba. We will enforce the law.
(Applause.) We will also target those who travel to Cuba illegally
third countries, and those who sail to Cuba on private vessels in
of the embargo.
You see, our country must understand the consequences of illegal
All Americans need to know that foreign-owned resorts in Cuba must pay
wages—must pay the wages of their Cuban workers to the government.
A good soul in America who wants to be a tourist goes to a foreign-owned
resort, pays the hotel bill—that money goes to the government. The
government, in turn, pays the workers a pittance in worthless pesos and
keeps the hard currency to prop up the dictator and his cronies.
tourism perpetuates the misery of the Cuban people. And that is why
charged the Department of Homeland Security to stop that kind of
trafficking of money. (Applause.)
By cracking down on the illegal travel, we will also serve another
goal. A rapidly growing part of Cuba’s tourism industry is the illicit
trade, a modern form of slavery which is encouraged by the Cuban
This cruel exploitation of innocent women and children must be exposed
must be ended. (Applause.)
Second, we are working to ensure that Cubans fleeing the dictatorship
risk their lives at sea. My administration is improving the method
which we identify refugees, and redoubling our efforts to process
seek to leave. We will better inform Cubans of the many routes to safe
legal entry into the United States through a public outreach campaign
southern Florida and inside Cuba itself. We will increase the number
Cuban immigrants we welcome every year. (Applause.) We are free to do
and we will, for the good of those who seek freedom. Our goal is to
more Cubans safely complete their journey to a free land.
Third, our government will establish a Commission for the Assistance to
a Free Cuba, to plan for the happy day when Castro’s regime is no more
democracy comes to the island. This commission will be co-chaired by
Secretary of State, Colin Powell; and the Secretary of Housing and
Development, Mel Martinez. They will draw upon experts within our
government to plan for Cuba’s transition from Stalinist rule to a free
open society, to identify ways to hasten the arrival of that day.
The transition to freedom will present many challenges to the Cuban
and to America, and we will be prepared. America is not alone in
for freedom inside of Cuba. Countries around the globe and the United
Nations Human Rights Commission increasingly recognize the oppressive
of the Castro regime, and have denounced its recent crackdowns. We
continue to build a strong international coalition to advance the cause
freedom inside of Cuba.
In addition to the measures I’ve announced today, we continue to break
information embargo that the Cuban government has imposed on its people
a half a century. Repressive governments fear the truth, and so we’re
increasing the amount and expanding the distribution of printed
Cuba, of Internet-based information inside of Cuba, and of AM-FM and
shortwave radios for Cubans.
Radio and TV Marti are bringing the message of freedom to the Cuban
This administration fully recognizes the need to enhance the
of Radio and TV Marti. Earlier this year, we launched a new satellite
service to expand our reach to Cuba. On May 20th, we staged the
flight of Commando Solo, an airborne transmission system that broke
Castro’s jamming efforts. Tyrants hate the truth; they jam messages.
on that day, I had the honor of speaking to the Cuban people in the
It’s only the beginning of a more robust effort to break through to the
Cuban people. This country loves freedom and we know that the enemy of
every tyrant is the truth. We’re determined to bring the truth to the
people who suffer under Fidel Castro. (Applause.)
Cuba has a proud history of fighting for freedom, and that fight goes
all that lies ahead, the Cuban people have a constant friend in the
States of America. No tyrant can stand forever against the power of
liberty, because the hope of freedom is found in every heart. So today
are confident that no matter what the dictator intends or plans, Cuba
pronto libre. (Applause.)
De nuevo, Cuba libre. Thank you all. (Applause.)
END 11:17 A.M. EDT
For Immediate Release: October 10, 2003
Contacts: Mavis Anderson, Latin America Working Group, (202) 546-7010
Rachel Farley, Washington Office on Latin America, (202) 797-2171
White House Mistaken in its Approach to Cuba: Ending Travel Ban Best
Promote Change, say Human Rights Groups
“President Bush has it wrong on Cuba,” said Mavis Anderson, Senior
Associate for Cuba at the Latin America Working Group, a national
of religious, human rights and activist groups that follows Latin
“If we want to have a positive impact on the human rights situation in
we ought to engage the country, not continue a failed strategy of
isolation.” Anderson spoke in response to a White House statement on
morning that attacked Cuba’s human rights shortcomings, and promised to
continue the forty-year old embargo, including the ban on travel to
The President announced that he was appointing a team to advise him on
to support a “transition to democracy” in Cuba. “The House of
Representatives has already advised the President on this one,” said
Thale, Senior Associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin
(WOLA), Washington-based human rights organization. “Last month, they
to end the ban on travel to Cuba, by a vote of 227-188. If you look at
statements that Members made on the floor, it’s clear that the House
believes that engagement with Cuba – dialogue, travel by ordinary
to the island, and trade – is going to do more to encourage change
than continuing to isolate the country. “
“You have to wonder about the White House’s motives in announcing
said Philip Schmidt, also of the Latin America Working Group.
Florida might dictate taking a hardline approach to Cuba, but a
analysis of the situation would suggest that its time for a new and
The House voted, on September 9th, in favor of three amendments to the
Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill
ease the embargo against Cuba. This is the fourth consecutive year
House has voted to end restrictions on travel to Cuba. The Senate may
consider an identical travel provision later this month. In addition
travel vote, the House voted to reinstate legal people-to-people travel
Cuba, 246-173, and to permit US citizens to send money to Cuba without
“The President is talking about preparing for change in a post-Castro
But the U.S. should do the right thing for Cuba now by engaging with
Cuban people, ending the ban on travel, and encouraging dialogue
nations,” said Rachel Farley, WOLA’ s Program Officer for Cuba.
For Immediate Release
CCD Opposes Transition Commission
October 9, 2003 (Miami) - The Cuban Committee for Democracy (CCD)
today its opposition to the creation of a Presidential Cuba Transition
Commission, expected to be announced at a meeting of Cuban Americans in
“A transition commission organized by the Administration is a clear
violation of international norms and Cuban sovereignty,” said Ricardo
Gonzalez, president of the CCD. And one that includes mostly
U.S. policy “would be a laughing matter were it not for the seriousness
the issue,” he added.
The CCD believes as a matter of principle that any transition to
in Cuba must come from within the Island. “It is time to end the
a policy tool”, stated Gonzalez.
“The majority of Cuban Americans support engagement with the Cuban
and not confrontation. At the very least, any proposed commission
reflect the changing views of our community”, he concluded.
The CCD was founded to promote a peaceful transition to democracy in
to advocate for a revision in US policies towards Cuba, and to promote
democratization of politics on the island as well as within the
Cuban-American communities in the United States.
CCD Outreach Coordinator
600 Brickell Ave. Suite 301 H
Miami FL 33131
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