Congress snub for Bush over new Cuba restriction

Campaign News | Wednesday, 7 July 2004

Vote to overturn limit on gift parcels

The US Congress has dealt an election-season setback to President George Bush by voting to overturn restrictions his administration has issued on the gift parcels that Americans can send to family members in Cuba.

Yesterday’s vote would block new rules that took effect on July 1 barring people from shipping clothing, seeds, veterinary medicine and soap-making ingredients to Cubans.

Under the new US Commerce Department rules, no items at all could be shipped to people who are not immediate relatives such as parents, grandchildren or spouses. And non-food gifts cannot be shipped more than monthly to each household of relatives - down from the current limit of once a month per individual relative.

The Bush administration and its supporters have said the restrictions are aimed at weakening Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his government.

Opponents say the rules - like others limiting trade and travel - will do little to hinder Mr Castro, and have accused Mr Bush of politically-motivated restrictions aimed at courting Florida’s Cuban-American voters.

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