http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/fidel_castro_decries_us_travel_rules_as_blow_to_cuban_families/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Fidel Castro Decries U.S. Travel Rules as Blow to Cuban Families

Posted June 21, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By Marc Frank | Reuters

A defiant Cuban President Fidel Castro branded new U.S. travel restrictions a “pitiless” blow to Cuban families and the Bush administration as a military threat at a rally on Monday.

Facing a seven-story banner depicting President Bush as Hitler, Castro told 200,000 cheering, flag-waving students and workers outside the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana that the U.S. travel rules were “pitiless and inhumane.”

“Our people will stand up to your economic measures, whatever they may be. Forty-five years of heroic struggle against the blockade ... have not weakened but rather strengthened the revolution,” Castro said.

The new U.S. rules enforcing the four-decade old Cuba trade and travel ban aim to deny cash-strapped Cuba American dollars in an effort to hasten the demise of the communist revolution. As of June 30, Cuban-Americans will be able to visit the island only once every three years instead of each year and no humanitarian trips will be allowed.

U.S. air charter companies said at least 2,000 Cuban Americans, and possibly as many as 15,000, who thought they could beat the deadline, now face a quick return to the United States or a potential $50,000 fine. They had assumed the rules would not apply if they were in Cuba before June 30.

The charters said they were scrambling to locate their passengers, for fear they also would face penalties for carrying passengers who are technically breaking the law.

“We’re basically now talking about emergency airlifts,” said Michael Zuccato, general manager of Cuba Travel Services, which connects Miami and Los Angeles with Havana and Cienfuegos in Cuba.

The rules also ban most other Americans from traveling to Cuba, reversing the people to people policy of the Clinton administration under which tens of thousand of professionals and students visited.

The Cuban government reported 117,000 Cuban-Americans and more than 60,000 other U.S. residents visited the Caribbean island last year.

WARNING AGAINST U.S. AGGRESSION

Cuba has had only partial success in recovering from a 1990s economic depression that followed the demise of the Soviet Union, its main source of aid and trade.

This year the country was already facing a serious drought, high oil and shipping prices, and other problems before the Bush administration measures were announced on May 6.

Castro said the measures were motivated by this year’s presidential election, echoing Bush critics in the United States who charge the policy aims at garnering conservative Cuban-American votes in the swing-state of Florida.

“The worst thing about your ridiculous, clumsy anti-Cuban policy is that you and your closest advisers have brazenly proclaimed your goal of forcibly imposing what you call political transition on Cuba,” Castro said.

Castro repeatedly implied the Bush administration wanted to provoke a crisis and launch military action against the country, a charge denied by U.S. officials.

“Do not try crazy adventures such as surgical strikes or wars of attrition using sophisticated techniques, because you could loose control of the situation,” Castro warned Bush. (Additional reporting by Pablo Bachelet in Washington)

Member Comments

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On June 22, 2004, publisher wrote:

Who’ right George Bush or Fidel Castro.

You might not want admit that either one is right so let me ask this…

Who’ wrong? George Bush or Fidel Castro.

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On June 22, 2004, John Bomar wrote:

As the gaunt and withered crowd stood dutifully and cheered, and waved bright flags in the ocean breeze,  “El Jefe” strutted, fat and sassy, up to the podium—- to rail across the waters at his “oppressors” on the other side, all the while knowing that, in effect, they were his best allies.  Without “them” to blame for all his people’ woes his would be a much more dangerous world indeed.  For without them as “enemy” he would have no ground to stand upon and his old and sagging nakedness would be visible to all the world.  Instead, he played the young David, defying the powerful and rich Goliath, a role he savored and had perfected over time. 

Meanwhile, those across the waters, in their self-rightous blindness, played right into his hands. 

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On June 22, 2004, MJD wrote:

George Bush has this Evangelist Crusader Great Liberator mentality. His bully tactics are always at the end of a bayonet. He has no diplomatic savy and no other plan but to use blunt force. We must now pray for the Cuban people because they now have their perverbial candle burning from both ends…

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On July 11, 2004, Mark wrote:

To Whom it May Concern:

I am unable to find an email for Cuba’ President Fidel Castro. 

Since you are a government operated newspaper I decided to send my concerns to you.  The Cuban government is holding Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, one of Cuba’ most prominent detained Christian dissidents.  I understand prison officials are starving and has denied him food for about three weeks.

I think this is appalling.  If this is an example of what your government does to its people, it should be ashamed.

Sincerely,

A Concerned American Citizen

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On November 24, 2004, another Mark wrote:

Please have Mr. Castro contact me.
Thank you.

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On February 21, 2006, Pamela Rogal wrote:

Please forward to Mr. President, with my prayers for good health:
My sister and I would like to visit your country, by way of Canada; we are Americans .  I am a writer and poet and love your culture and have great respect for you. I am also inspired to write about your wonderful people and beautiful island. I am respectfully requesting if you would be willing to meet with me if we come to Cuba. Also, we would be honored if we could have your company for dinner at a restaurant of your choice.
Sincerely,
Pamela Rogal