The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 67/No. 37           October 27, 2003  
Bush press conference targets Cuba
(front page)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—At an October 10 White House press conference, U.S. president George Bush announced his administration’s plans to take several measures against revolutionary Cuba. These include stricter enforcement of curbs on travel to Cuba, aid to counterrevolutionary groups on the island, and the establishment of a presidential commission, co-chaired by Secretary of State Colin Powell, to draw up plans for a “free,” that is, capitalist Cuba.

In a statement issued October 13, Cuba’s foreign ministry condemned the announced measures, saying they were part of Washington’s “40 years of economic and political war” aimed at “ending the example of dignity and social justice that the Cuban Revolution embodies.” The travel ban, it added, is also an attack on U.S. citizens’ “right to travel freely to our country.”

Washington prohibits most residents from traveling to Cuba. To tighten enforcement of these restrictions, Bush said he had instructed the Department of Homeland Security to “increase inspections of travelers and shipments to and from Cuba.” He said those who travel to Cuba via third countries or on private vessels will be “targeted.”

Bush claimed these measures would help curb what he called the growing “illicit sex trade” resulting from increased tourism in Cuba. Without offering facts for his allegations, he accused the Cuban government of “cruel exploitation of innocent women and children.”

In March the administration announced it would no longer issue “people-to-people” licenses to groups sponsoring educational trips to Cuba. The Treasury Department has increasingly enforced travel curbs with the threat of fines ranging from $2,000 to $7,500. The number of cases opened against individuals traveling to Cuba “illegally” rose sharply, from 165 in 1996 to 1,155 in the first half of 2001.

Bush also told the press Washington would increase the number of individuals allowed to emigrate from Cuba to the United States annually. And he said Powell and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Melquiades Martinez would head a “commission for the assistance to a free Cuba” that is to draw up plans in anticipation of assisting a post-revolutionary government in Cuba.

Lastly, Bush announced plans to step up Washington’s propaganda war against the Cuba through increased radio and television broadcasts, use of the internet, and distribution of shortwave radios.  
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