67 MPs have signed motion against the new Bush sanctions

Campaign News | Thursday, 1 July 2004

EDM deplores and condemns the measures

July 01: The Early Day Motion in the UK parliament deploring and condemning the new sanctions imposed on Cuba by George Bush, has gathered 67 votes to date.

British Member of Parliament Ian Gibson, the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cuba Group of MPs,who recently led a parliamentary delegation to Cuba, is calling on the UK government to publicly resist the measures and restate its intent to increase collaboration with the island.

The progress of the EDM has been reported in the Cuban media with great interest.

The full list of signatories so far is reproduced below.

All readers are urged to contact their MP and ask them to sign the motion. You can contact your MP by using the website link to the Hands Off Cuba site on the CSC home page.

EDMs are a good way for MPs to express their views on an issue. If more than 100 MPs sign them, the Government takes notice.

EDM 1247


Dr Ian Gibson

That this House notes the contents of the report by the US Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba published on 6th May; deplores the recommendations, which include collective punishment of the Cuban people and the call for a regime change, the threat of prosecution of British business people legitimately carrying out trade and investments in Cuba and attempts to dissuade tourists from visiting Cuba; and calls on the British Government to resist this attack on Cuba and to restate its intent to increase collaboration between the UK and Cuba.




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Jones/Jon Owen





Bush campaign against Cuban tourism begins

WASHINGTON May 21 - The Bush administration has told a Jamiacan businessman that he and his top directors will be denied entry into the United States because of investments the company has made on nationalised property in Cuba.

John Issa's SuperClubs hotel chain with properties in the Caribbean and Brazil, operates five hotels in Cuba, accounting for 1,500 rooms.

A senior US official, who declined to be identified, said top executives, shareholders, their spouses and children would be denied visas, starting 45 days after the date of a letter recently sent to SuperClubs. It was not clear how many people would be affected.

SuperClubs' vice-president for marketing, Zein Issa-Nakash confirmed the US action.

"We are in correspondence with the State Department over one of our hotels in Cuba," she told the Jamaican Observer newspaper. She declined to say which property was at issue.

SuperClubs has operated hotels in Cuba, mainly on management contracts, since 1990. The latest of its properties, the 442-room Grand Lido Varadero was opened on May 5.

The denial is a product of Title IV of the Helms Burton Act of 1996.

Sponsored by former Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Dan Burton Titel IV is part of an attempt to discourage foreign companies from investing in Cuba on properties confiscated from Americans, during the early days of the Cuban revolution.

The 45-day grace period will enable SuperClubs to reconsider its investment in Cuba, according to the official.

The Title IV provision of the Helms-Burton law has been invoked only on rare occasions over the years. Shortly after the legislation was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, it was imposed against Sherritt International Corp, a Canadian mining firm.

On May, the Bush administration vowed to aggressively pursue enforcement of Title IV as part of a series of measures aimed at weakening Fidel Castro's government contained in the report of the so-called Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.

The new policy also calls for deployment of additional personnel to strengthen enforcement of Title IV.

Robert Muse, an international lawyer with expertise on Cuba, said the administration probably pursued a Jamaica-based target because the country lacks strategic importance compared with some European Union countries that could be subject to Title IV action.

The most prominent potential EU target would be the Spanish-based Sol Melia hotel chain, which has numerous properties in Cuba.

Muse suggested that, at least until recently, the Bush administration had no incentive to impose Title IV sanctions against Spanish interests because of Spain's troop commitment to Iraq.

The EU regards Title IV as a violation of World Trade Organisation rules but will not file a complaint so long as no EU company is targeted, Muse said.





New York's Center for Cuban Studies under threat

BY BORIS LEONARDO CARO of Granma International

AN extremely important cultural institution, the Center for Cuban Studies in New York (www.cubaupdate.org), could soon close down after 32 years of operations under difficult circumstances. The reason: the restrictions imposed by President George Bush on educational and cultural trips to Cuba.

This center was created in 1972 as a response to growing concern over the effects of the blockade in terms of the ability to obtain materials for research on Cuba. The founders include writers, editors, cartoonists and many other intellectuals, such as Saul Landau, Jules Feiffer and Jason Epstein. Its goal was to establish a bridge of communication between the Cuban and U.S. peoples.

During its three decades of activity, the center has organized dozens of cultural exchange programs. Thanks to those efforts, singers Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés have traveled to the United States, as has jazz great Chucho Valdés, writer Miguel Barnet, painter José Fuster and many other Cuban celebrities. Additionally, the center has presented lectures by experts in economics, architecture and public health. Likewise, the center has brought actors and world-renowned filmmakers to Cuba, including Jack Lemmon, Gregory Peck, Sydney Pollack and Robert De Niro.

The “Lourdes Casal” library has become a point of reference for U.S. researchers on Cuban issues. Its catalogs amass newspapers, thousands of books, recordings and photos. Every week, showings of films related to Cuba are shown, and students of all educational levels are frequent visitors.

In spite of the efforts of its sponsors and members around the United States, the ban on trips has considerably reduced the center’s income. The only way it can be saved is by financial contributions from those who feel committed to this noble cause.

Now, the notorious stupidity of the U.S. president is attempting to close another door of dialogue between the neighboring nations. For him, any rapprochement with the island is a concession to Fidel Castro’s government. Blind and deaf, he is continuing a policy that has demonstrated its uselessness. His actions have never shown that he even has the capacity to think.


Restrictions come into force on June 1

Washington, May 17: The US government is ready to make effective as of June 1 the measures adopted with the aim of toppling the Cuban revolution, in spite of having been overwhelmingly rejected in Cuba and also in the United States.

The Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) confirmed to sources consulted by Prensa Latina that the new regulations will be enforced as of June 1.

The George W. Bush regime has used its prerogative to sidestep debate in Congress.

It tries to avoid debate in the Capitol, where votes in favor of lifting restrictions of the blockade on Cuba grow in both chambers, specially those relating to travel and sales of food and medicines to Cuba.

The Bush government will start applying proposals of the so called Commission for the Assistance to a Free Cuba, headed by the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, whose report was written by high officials known for their close links to counterrevolutionary organizations in Miami.

According to sources, from that date on the General License for family visit trips will be void, affecting Cuban residents in the United States.

From that date on, members of the Cuban community will have to apply for a specific license to travel to the island having to wait for three years after their last family visit to Cuba.

According to OFAC, there will be no exceptions for humanitarian reasons, note even in the case of sickness or death of closer family members, which shows the inhumane nature of the measures applied by the White House.

In that sense, the Administration limits visiting permits to family members noone other than grandparents, grandchildren, parents, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and husbands. In such cases, if the application is approved, they will only be allowed to stay for 14 days on Cuban territory.

The measures also limit from 167 to only 50 dollars a day the expenses allowed to visitors to Cuba.

The new regulations also affect US people and institutions. In that regard, most of the visits from US universities and academic centres are eliminated. All visits from High and Junior High schools are also banned.

The adopted plan restricts licenses for humanitarian donations, included foodstuff, medicines, medical supplies and information material.

Licenses for trips of amateur sports teams are eliminated, adding to previous regulations that block people to people contacts.

Inspections on passengers and cargo to and from Cuba will be increased with personnel displayed in entrance and exit posts in the United States.

OFAC indicated there are no plans to increase personnel destined to attend the thousands of applications expected to be received for licenses for family trips, which will most surely make this process still more trying and delayed for Cubans residing in the United States.

In another alarming development, it has emerged that the Bush measures also include a multi-million dollar funded effort to discredit the Cuban government in the world. This will inlcude a disinformation campaign aimed at convincing holidaymakers not to take their holidays in the island.



Cubans resent family divisions implied by new measures

May 15: Among the measures boosted by George W. Bush against Cuba, probably the one that hurts Cuba's sensibility the most are those aimed to "categorize" and divide the Cuban family.

Thus is was expressed to local radio and television stations by many people who, adding up to more than a million, as a unique an indivisible family, marched yesterday along Havana's 'malecon' (seawall.)

Either through interview, shouting slogans or through banners, the protesters rejected the so-called Commission of Assistance for a Free Cuba report, including, among other prerogatives, that of deciding who of the Cuban-origin citizens in the United States can travel to Cuba according to a whimsical family "classification."

According to the new dispositions by Washington, the Cuban ?migr?s only could travel to their native country once every three years, instead of every year, while the remittances are limited to "first-degree" blood relatives.

Who authorized Bush to decide where family begins and ends?, asked an outraged woman -judging by the voice, a grandmother- to the microphones of a radio station.

"This is another example of the disdain the US administrations have towards us," the interviewee added.

According to the suggestions by the mentioned report, in order to get permission to visit Cuba, the Cuban resident in the United States have to prove they come to visit children, parents, couples, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren.

The rest of the relatives are not included in Bush's narrow concept of family. Concerning the remittances, they not only are prohibited for "second degree" blood relatives. Those who are government officials or Communist Party members can not receive them either.

"Remittances are little to me. In fact, I have never received one cent from a cousin I have in the United States. But I don't want anyone telling me who is my family and who is not," a farmer holding a banner with the slogan 'El Pueblo, unido, jamas ser vencido' (The people, united, will never be defeated) stated.

A place where relatives and friends usually meet, Havana's seawall became the place where Cubans repeated that nobody, other than themselves, decide where the family begins and ends.


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