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

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

The US is all about freedom ... unless of course you want to travel to Cuba

Posted September 27, 2005 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By Anthony Boadle | Reuters

Original title: Communist Cuba says US “economic war” hurting

The intensified U.S. “economic war” on Cuba has meant more fines for Americans visiting the Communist-run island and foreign firms doing business there, a Cuban government report said on Tuesday.

Sanctions adopted by the Bush administration since June 2005 to speed change in Cuba by denying it funds included a ban on the purchase of Cuban cigars and rum by U.S. citizens, even in third countries, the report to the United Nations said.

Pleasure craft owners leaving U.S ports for Cuban waters face fines of up to $25,000 or five years in jail, it said.

“The blockade on Cuba is an act of economic war,” the report said. Washington has enforced a trade embargo against Cuba since 1962, seeking to undermine the left-wing government of Fidel Castro, in power since a 1959 revolution.

Critics of the embargo say it has failed to bring change to Cuba and allows Castro to blame Cuba’s economic woes on the United States. American farmers succeeded in amending it in 2000 to allow food sales, now averaging $400 million a year.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the sanctions, fined 307 U.S. citizens in the first quarter of 2005, compared to 316 in all of 2004, for unauthorized travel to Cuba, the report said.

The number of U.S. tourists who visited Cuba dropped 40 percent last year to 51,027 from 85,809 in 2003, it said.

More dramatic was the drop in the number of Cuban residents of the United States who returned to visit, which fell 50 percent from 115,050 in 2003 to 57,145 last year.

Measures taken by the Bush administration to squeeze Cuba’s economy included limiting trips to the island by Cuban Americans to once every three years. Cubans living in the United States are a vital source of cash remittances for relatives enduring economic hardship in their homeland.

HASTEN TRANSITION

The tightened restrictions were recommended by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba appointed by President George W. Bush to explore ways to hasten a democratic transition. They included naming a Cuba Transition Coordinator at the State Department.

“We are not waiting for Fidel to die. We are going to keep up the pressure,” a U.S. State Department official said.

“Our policy is based on the fact that everything in Cuba is set up to vacuum up dollars. This is money going into the pocket of the regime,” the official said.

Havana said Washington fined 77 foreign companies or subsidiaries of U.S. firms in 2004 for violating the sanctions. Others were dissuaded from doing business with Cuba, including shipping companies and deep-sea oil drilling firms.

The U.S. action that had the most repercussion in 2004 was a $100 million fine the Federal Reserve imposed on the Swiss bank UBS for illegally transferring new dollar bills to Cuba and three other nations subject to U.S. sanctions—Libya, Iran and Yugoslavia.

This made it very difficult for Cuba to deposit its dollars abroad and refresh U.S. notes in circulation, forcing Havana to end the use of its enemy’s currency as legal tender.

The Swedish airline Novair stopped leasing an Airbus 330 for flights from Europe to Cuba due to the embargo, the report said.

U.S. sanctions have cost Cuba $82 billion in damages over four decades, according to Cuban estimates.

Cuban officials say their one-party state, which has survived through the administrations of 10 U.S. presidents, is not about to go under.

“With or without the blockade, the Cuban revolution has a sure future,’ Deputy Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said.

Member Comments

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On September 27, 2005, publisher wrote:

1. “The U.S. Treasury Department’ Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the sanctions, fined 307 U.S. citizens in the first quarter of 2005, compared to 316 in all of 2004, for unauthorized travel to Cuba, the report said.”

Havana Journal’ interpretation of the Bush Administration Cuba Policy: Punish US citizens and Cuban citizens until Fidel can’t take it any more and decides to give in.

2. “The U.S. action that had the most repercussion in 2004 was a $100 million fine the Federal Reserve imposed on the Swiss bank UBS for illegally transferring new dollar bills to Cuba and three other nations subject to U.S. sanctions—Libya, Iran and Yugoslavia.

This made it very difficult for Cuba to deposit its dollars abroad and refresh U.S. notes in circulation, forcing Havana to end the use of its enemy’ currency as legal tender.”

a. This is true. This is how the behind-the-scenes politics really works.

b. This is not true. This is just propaganda from the United States so the Bush Administration can justify their Cuba Policy.

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On September 27, 2005, publisher wrote:

1. Who presented this “report” to the UN? I did not see that anywhere.

2. Notice that Google Adwords showing ads for “travel to Cuba” businesses appear by default at the top and bottom of this story.

To play devil’ advocate, shouldn’t Google be investigated and fined for promoting travel to Cuba to US citizens???

OFAC states that you cannot directly or indirectly promote travel to Cuba in their regulations.

Headline “OFAC fines Google for promoting travel to Cuba through AdWords”. Now that’ a court battle we’d all love to see!

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On September 28, 2005, dosadi wrote:

I’m from the U.S. and I hate this crap. Our government is no better at this point than that of Cuba after all; it claims to espouse freedom and then fines us for travelling to another country although we are NOT IN THE U.S. AT THE TIME! This is ridiculous; their authority over me ends 1) at the border, 2) at the point that they infringe on my life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness (which might be to go smoke a Havanna cigar in Cuba), and 3) at the point where the U.S. government becomes totalitarian enough to detain people without charging them with a crime (U.S. “Patriot” Act). Oops, looks like we just became a tyranny. Sorry, world.

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On September 29, 2005, Cubana wrote:

Having just returned from Cuba I would like to add the following information:

Air Atlanta (an Icelandic airline) have replaced Novair in respect of Cubana flights to the UK. Well done them for having the guts to stand up for freedom and against the disgraceful American embargo.

Some credit cards, although nominally issued by UK banks do not work in Cuba because settlement, etc is through a US bank.

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On September 29, 2005, jesusp wrote:

This policy of open aggression from one big country against a small country is shameful and unparalleled in modern history. Any decent American has the duty to oppose it.

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On September 29, 2005, dosadi wrote:

Unparallelled? No, I think we do that to plenty other countries as well.

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On September 29, 2005, jesusp wrote:

Dosadi, I meant unparalleled in the sense that the U.S. has maintained this policy for the last 44 years. Sure we bully lots of other countries as well, but none other has endured it for so long.

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On September 30, 2005, dosadi wrote:

true, true!