Bush administration may stop families sending money to relatives in Cuba

Campaign News | Friday, 23 April 2004

Malicious and cynical move might backfire

April 23: The Bush administration is considering stepping up the blocakde by making significant cuts in the amount of money Americans are allowed to send to family and others in Cuba.

Sources familiar with the discussions of the president's Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba say that one proposal under review would temporarily freeze all remittances - possibly for six months - after which the administration would reinstate them at much lower levels than currently allowed.

Currently, Americans can send no more than $300 per quarter to a Cuban household.

The so-called 'Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba', a think-tank set up by Bush in October, is to issue recommendations on what it calls "ways to hasten a transition to democracy on the island and ways to assist Cuba during such a transition."

It is scheduled to present its options to the president on May 1st and the funds cut proposal is thought to be among them.

The idea is popular with the hardline anti-Castro emigre lobby because they believe the move will cause hardship in Cuba and help develop opposition to Fidel among the population.

Bush has been criticised by these rightwingers for not doing enough to put pressure on Cuba and, in election year, the administration is looking for ways to bolster electoral support which is seen as vital to success in Florida.

However, the move might backfire as many of the fmailies in Florida who send money to Cuba do so because they wish to help. Being prevented from doing so is likely to anger them.

Nor would the policy, if implemented, be likely to succeed as people would find ways to send the money illegally.



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