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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Grand jury summons Cuba boaters - Letter to the Editor

Posted February 13, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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Letter to the Editor | [url=http://www.keysnews.com]http://www.keysnews.com[/url]
The federal furor regarding the Third Annual Conch Republic Cup sailing race is nothing more than a childish tantrum fueled by hate and turning ugly. US citizens’ travel rights, millions of dollars in campaign contributions and the November race for president of the United States are at stake.
In the latest turn of events, vessels in Key West that participated in the late May cup competition, or should I say some of their owners, have been subpoenaed to a Grand Jury hearing next week (February 18). There’s a legal opinion circulating that the jury convening here in Key West, will be primarily concerned about the trampling of citizens’ rights by the federal boarding parties upon the return of racing vessels. Little to do with violations of regulations regarding Americans traveling to Cuba. Now the “Bush”-wacking federal authorities will be scampering like Key West chickens to vindicate their somewhat brutal behavior to participants of a sailing race.
Hate drives this latest confrontation between the Bush Administration and US citizens. It’s the wealthy, hardline Cuban exile community in Miami that propels this controversy. Think of rich and successful Cubans running the Bacardi Corporation now headquartered in Puerto Rico or the Cuban sugar barons in South Florida. These old-timers, ravaged by hate and age, have been licking their wounds for more than 40 years after being thrown out of Cuba.
Revenge is what they seek and they pump millions of dollars into the pockets of American politicians eager to do their bidding. They want an end to the Castro regime and have paid a staggering sum for the control of a failed US foreign policy toward Cuba.
In that effort this sinister cabal of money and politicians has trampled on the US citizens’ inalienable right to travel. It’s a fact, now that Libya is backing off of its hardline policy, the only country in the world that we Americans are not allowed to go to is Cuba.
Key West’s Conchord Cayo Hueso, Inc. (CCH), a federally registered humanitarian aid organization, had been transporting food and medicine to the Cuban people since 1992. Originally called “Basta!”, we have records indicating we’ve carried more than 150 tons of donations to a desperate Cuban people.
This latest travesty of federal justice has nothing to do with the federal licensing our organization has possessed in more than a decade. It’s all about stopping US citizens from visiting Cuba. Period. Damn the misery of our friends and neighbors 90 miles away.
The latest wrinkle in the Bush administration’s regulations now include a specific demand that boats going to “the terrorist state” of Cuba, must have a special license because a vessel going to Cuba from Key West is now considered “a temporary export”.
What the hell is a “temporary export” anyway? An export is a product for sale that one totes to another country and then returns home without the product. (At least that’s what has always been the definition.)
So now a grand jury is convening to study this action taken by a bunch of citizen sailors last spring. There will be serious scrutiny of the behavior of federal officials as well. Transporting vital medicine and spending money are not the only issues here. The racers were fully hosted, thanks to Havana’s Club Nautico. No dollars were spent.
What is annoying to President Bush and his brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush as well, is that a number of US citizens will not fall in line to an immoral foreign policy that is an attempt to starve the Cuban people into rising up against a hardline regime 90 miles away. We look forward to a local grand jury hearing at 11 am., February 18 at the Federal Building here in Key West.
A caveat: Will the feds decide it’s best to convene the panel in Miami instead of Key West? Hmm. I wonder why they would want to do that?
      JOHN J. YOUNG, Director,
      Conchord Cayo Hueso Inc.

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