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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 03:07 GMT 04:07 UK
Bush to announce Cuba crackdown
carter
Castro and Carter who called for an end to the embargo
The US President George W Bush is expected to announce tough new measures aimed at strengthening sanctions against Cuba.

His move comes only days after the former president, Jimmy Carter visited the Communist-run island and called for an end to the embargo.

But in a speech to Cuban dissidents in Miami on Monday, Mr Bush is expected to insist that the 40-year embargo must stay in place unless Cuba holds free and fair National Assembly elections next year, releases political prisoners, allows a free opposition and reforms its economy.

The new measures are expected to include:

  • A tightening of the existing trade embargo to include a wider variety of goods and services

  • More money for the Cuban dissident movement both in America and on the island itself

  • A strengthening of travel restrictions, making it harder for Americans to go to Cuba.

However, Mr Bush is to offer to immediately resume direct mail service to the island and provide assistance to Cubans through international aid organisations.

He is also expected to announce the establishment of scholarships in the United States for Cubans trying to build independent civic institutions and for family members of political prisoners.

Political manoeuvres

The BBC's Miami correspondent says the moves are aimed at blunting rising political momentum to lift the embargo and ease travel restrictions to Havana which critics, including some members of Congress, say has hurt the Cuban people not the Cuban President, Fidel Castro.

bush
President Bush: Political prisoners must be freed
Republican Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, said: "The embargo has been Castro's lifeline. It has been his appeasement because he has been able to blame the failures on us.

"The travel ban does not punish Cuba, it simply punishes Americans who want to travel."

Our correspondent says many others see his speech as a purely political one aimed at securing votes in a state which is crucial for both the Republican Party and the Bush family in particular.

The support of Florida's Cuban American community was crucial to Mr Bush's disputed election victory and his brother Jeb, the current governor, also faces a tough re-election battle in November.

Miami's Cuban dissidents are delighted with the president's tough stance against President Castro.

"He is a dictator and we cannot appease a man who leads a country that is on America's terrorist list," said Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American Foundation, a leading exile group.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fergal Parkinson
"His speech will be welcomed by many dissident Cubans"
See also:

17 May 02 | Americas
17 May 02 | Newsmakers
15 May 02 | Americas
14 May 02 | Americas
09 May 02 | Americas
04 Sep 01 | Americas
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