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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Latin American Working Group - Cuba Update

Posted March 04, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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[url=http://www.lawg.org]http://www.lawg.org[/url]

The Bush Administration has shown no signs of softening its hard-edged Cuba policy.  To the contrary, the administration is stepping up pressure.  This has been seen in several areas:

The latest toughening of the travel restrictions.  These fell hardest on Cuban-Americans, who are now limited to one family visit every three years to the island and their travel is restricted even if their mother falls ill or dies, for example.  And the administration has re-defined “family” to exclude aunts, uncles, nieces, nephew, and cousinsóvery foreign to the Latin American definition of family.

In an apparent effort to discourage US agricultural sales to Cuba, the Bush Administration halted in November the transfer of money to US agricultural firms making sales to Cuba and is reviewing its definition of a law requiring that Cuba make “payments in advance” for US agricultural imports. The proposed rule change, which would require Cuba to pay for US agricultural products before they are shipped, would reduce agricultural sales and possibly halt them altogether.

Academic programs have been hit hard by the restrictions, which have effectively ended academic exchanges and study abroad that is shorter than a full semester and denied Cuban scholars visas to scholarly conferences.

These irrational restrictions are causing a backlash and will ensure a strong challenge this coming year by members of Congress, the academy, moderate Cuban-Americans, the business community, and the public. 

In addition to regulatory actions affecting travel and agricultural sales, movement towards easing restrictions is likely to be hampered by the election of a Cuban American to the Senate, Senator Mel Martinez of Florida.  His voice is likely to be used in the Senate to further the administration’s goals and policies regarding Cuba. 

The Bush Administration may have ventured too far afield from the positions of some key sectors (academic, business/agriculture, Cuban Americans) and will be facing some strong resistance to its policies towards Cuba. 

Cuba Action Day:

Make Your Voice Heard:

Change U.S. - Cuba Policy

WHEN: April, 27, 2005

WHERE: Washington DC

WHY: For more than forty years, the United States has tried to isolate Cuba in ways that defy common sense and are inconsistent with American values. For example, Americans have lost their fundamental right to travel.

Cuban families on both sides of the Florida Straits are divided by new and outrageous travel restrictions, Farmers must overcome special obstacles to sell their products in Cuba; other businesses are banned from engaging in commerce altogether, Religious delegations have been prosecuted by the federal government for attempting to provide humanitarian aid, Scholars, students, and artists have lost the right to engage in cultural and academic exchanges.

The sponsors of Cuba Action Day are advocates for a new Cuba policy, starting with repeal of the ban on legal travel by Americans to Cuba.

HOW: Sign-up to be part of this special day by calling 202-232-3317 or visiting [url=http://www.cubaactionday.org]http://www.cubaactionday.org[/url]

Lead Sponsors: Center for International Policy’s Freedom to Travel Campaign/Latin America Working Group/Washington Office on Latin America

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