Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 16, 2002
Bush Plans to Tighten Sanctions on Cuba, Not Ease Them
While Jimmy Carter called for easing sanctions against Cuba, President Bush said today that he would hew to a tough line when he speaks Monday on his policy toward Cuba.
Officials said that Mr. Bush would speak at a fund-raiser in Miami and possibly to the Organization of American States in Washington, and that he would announce measures to strengthen the economic pressure and political isolation of President Fidel Castro’s government.
The measures include stepping up enforcement of travel restrictions, promoting aid to dissidents and strengthening American government broadcasts of news and opinion, according to an official who follows the policy.
The United States also plans to ask European and Latin American nations, particularly Mexico and Spain, to help build support for Cuban critics of the government.
Administration officials denied that Mr. Bush’s announcements had been timed to embarrass the former president, Mr. Carter, who would just be ending his five-day trip to Cuba. But officials did acknowledge concern that Mr. Carter’s trip might provide momentum for calls to ease American policy toward the Castro government.
In Miami, Mr. Bush is to address a fund-raiser for the re-election campaign of his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush. South Florida is a bastion of Cuban exiles who oppose any softening toward Havana, and President Bush’s remarks are likely to be warmly received.
The president is a strong supporter of the four-decade-old American trade embargo against Cuba. His stance has won him the devotion of a large swath of the Cuban-American community, without which he probably would not have won the state of Florida, and the presidency, in 2000.
President Bush, in remarks to the news media today during a visit of the prime minister of Malaysia, said his message on Cuba was not affected by Mr. Carter’s visit.
He foreshadowed the tough line he is expected to take on Monday, Cuba’s independence day, saying, ”My message to the Cuban people is: Demand freedom, and you’ve got a president who stands with you.”
While the president is preparing to increase the pressure against Cuba, his administration is caught in a debate over public allegations that Mr. Castro’s government is developing biological weapons. (Continued: The New York Times)