New Bush plan for Cuba is delayed, say officials

Campaign News | Friday, 19 May 2006

Commission Report will not be delivered on time

WASHINGTON 18 May: The long-awaited update from the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, the keystone of the Bush regime's policy toward the island, will not be delivered to the White House as scheduled on Saturday May 20, but should be in Bush's hands by month's end, according to US officials.

The commission's initial report in 2004 led to a severe curtailing of travel and remittances by Cuban Americans to the island, a detailed plan for the transforamtion of Cuba after the revolution's overthrow and increased funding for subverison inside the island in an effort to bring such a change about.

US officials will not say what changes the commission might recommend in its new report, although some Cuba-watchers in Washington have been speculating that the panel will recommend even tighter restrictions on trips by US academic and religious groups.

The decision to make a new report was announced at the end of 2005 by Condoleeza Rice who said it was time the Fidel Castro was overthrown. It was suposed to have been delivered to the White House on May 20 which is the anniversary of the founding of Cuba's first republic under US occupation in 1902, but officials said the date has been pushed back to later in the month because some of its details are still being worked out.

Bush personally is supposed to be taking time to review the new recommendations and decide which ones he will implement, US officials say.

The commission is officially headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but the day-to-day work to write the new report has been coordinated by Caleb McCarry, the department's so-called Cuba transition coordinator.

May 20 is not an anniversary that is commemorated in Cuba for obvious reasons, but the US unilaterally recognises it as Cuban independence day and a date that Bush uses to add insult to injury by making Cuba policy announcements. He is expected to issue a statement on Cuba Saturday, but it's unclear whether, as he has done in the past, he also will host a ceremony for the anti-Castro Miami mafia at the White House or visit South Florida's Cuban community.

The commission's new report was drafted through an inter-agency process that included input from the Departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Justice and Energy, among others.

Bush came to Miami on May 20 2002, and launched the Initiative for a Free Cuba.

After receiving the commission's 2004 report, Bush cut back Cuban Americans' family visits to the island from once a year to once every three years and tightened the list of those on the island who can receive cash remittances and packages from the United States. Bush also called for spending an extra $90 million to "hasten" and prepare for a "democratic transition" in Cuba.

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