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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Bush approves new squeeze on Cuba
Fidel Castro waves goodbye to a visitor at Havana airport
Bush would like to see Castro out of power
US President George W Bush has ordered the implementation of tougher measures on Cuba, suggested in a report designed to hasten the fall of Fidel Castro.

Among the report's proposals are renewed efforts to broadcast pro-US messages in Cuba and tighter curbs on money sent home by expatriate Cubans.

"We're not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom, we are working for the day of freedom," Mr Bush told reporters.

Cuba - the focus of a US trade embargo for four decades - condemned the moves.

'Repressive'

Mr Bush proposed the new measures after receiving a 500-page report by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba earlier this week.

1950s American Buick in Havana
The embargo on Cuba has given its streets an old-fashioned feel
The commission - set up six months ago and chaired by Secretary of State Colin Powell - was tasked with planning for, in Mr Bush's words, "the happy day when Castro's regime is no more".

Mr Bush called for improving US-funded television and radio broadcasts into Cuba, which are jammed by Havana.

He ordered several immediate measures, which, as reported by the Associated Press, include:

  • Limiting family visits by Cuban-Americans to once every three years instead of the current one-per-year

  • Retaining the $1,200-a-year limit on dollar transfers that Cuban-American families can send to the island
  • Restricting remittances and gift parcels to immediate family members - recipients may not include "certain Cuban officials and Communist Party members"

  • Lowering the authorised daily amount for a family visit from $164 to $50

Mr Bush said the new strategy "encourages the spending of money to help organisations to protect dissidents and to promote human rights".

"It is a strategy that encourages a clear voice of the truth being spoken to the Cuban people through Radio and TV Marti," he said.

"It is a strategy that will prevent the regime from exploiting hard currency of tourists and of remittances to Cubans to prop up their repressive regime."

'Broken promises'

Havana said Mr Bush's plans violated international law.

"The commission's report is part of an escalation of pressures and aggressions against Cuba... aimed at toughening the [US] economic blockade," Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters.

In the US, Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry said Mr Bush was playing election-year politics.

"Four years after candidate Bush came to Florida and promised Cuban-Americans the Moon, all they've gotten from this president is lip service and broken promises," he said in a statement.

Cuban-American Republican members of Congress said they were pleased, according to the Associated Press.

Five senators criticised Mr Bush's tough approach in a letter to the president.

"Opening America's doors to Cuba - and challenging Cuba to open its doors to the rest of the world - will be an act of strength and magnanimity," they said.


SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Cuba's isolation deepens
03 May 04  |  Americas
Cuba's hardships fuel discontent
08 Jun 03  |  Americas
Cuba dissidents 'in closed trial'
26 Apr 04  |  Americas
New petition for Cuba changes
03 Oct 03  |  Americas
Cuban radio defiant 40 years on
05 Jun 01  |  Media reports


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