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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Travel

Charges dismissed against organizers of Key West Sailing Club Conch Republic Cup sailboat race to Cu

Posted October 30, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Travel.
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Associated Press

A judge dismissed charges Friday against organizers of a sailboat race from Key West to Cuba who were accused of violating federal laws against trading with enemy nations.

Peter Goldsmith and Michele Geslin had been charged with two counts of providing unlicensed travel services to Cuba. If convicted of both counts, they could have faced 15-year prison sentences.

“The defendants certainly feel vindicated,” said attorney Mario Cano, who represents Goldsmith.

Carlos B. Castillo, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said his office was reviewing the decision.

Crews competing in the Key West Sailing Club Conch Republic Cup departed May 22, 2003, for Havana and several Cuban shore communities after receiving pre-race warnings they would be violating U.S. licensing regulations.

About 20 boats took part in the race, which was then in its third year.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King wrote in his decision that regulations in effect at the time did not bar coordinated travel by independent participants in a sailboat race.

The sailors’ registration fees were used to pay for T-shirts, trophies and a party in Key West, and did not constitute travel services, the ruling said.

Member Comments

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On October 31, 2004, I-taoist wrote:

This case is a perfect example of the Bush administration’ disregard for basic civil liberties.  You know, those simple tenents of personal freedom this country was founded upon.  To have even brought these charges is an example of prosecutorial abuse.  Threat, intimidation, abuse of power, dictatorial mandates; all have heralded the Bush approach to the Cuba dilemma.  Once again it shows a president who listens to only a select group of partisan advisors, disregards all opposing points of view, and heavy-handidly creates policy that infringes on long established and cherished liberties. 

To try and make criminal those who oppose your policies is the work of tyrants.  To abuse the authority and power entrusted to you is the sign of shallow and vain men.  To repeat a failed policy with increased vigor, in hopes of a different outcome, is insanity.

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On October 31, 2004, Jesus Perez wrote:

I would suggest to Mr. Carlos B. Castillo that if the U. S. Attorney’ office has nothing better to do with its personnel, they should seriously re-examine their agenda.