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World > North America > Cuba > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Cuba - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S.-CUBAN RELATIONS
On May 20, 2002, President Bush announced the Initiative for a New Cuba that called on the Cuban Government to undertake political and economic reforms and conduct free and fair elections for the National Assembly. The Initiative challenged the Cuban Government to open its economy, allow independent trade unions, and end discriminatory practices against Cuban workers. President Bush made clear that his response to such concrete reforms would be to work with the U.S. Congress to ease the restrictions on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba. The Cuban Government did not enact any such reforms. Instead, elections for the National Assembly were held in January 2003, with 609 government-approved candidates running for 609 seats. That was followed by the March crackdown on members of civil society.

In October 2003, President Bush then created the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba to help the Cuban people achieve the goal of a rapid, peaceful transition to democracy that is strongly supportive of fundamental political and economic freedoms. Its mandate is to identify additional measures to help bring an end to the dictatorship and to lay out a plan for effective and decisive U.S. assistance to a post-dictatorship Cuba, should such be requested by a free Cuba. The commission report outlines how the United States would be prepared to help a free Cuba improve infrastructure and the environment; consolidate the transition and help build democracy; meet the basic needs of the Cuban people in health, education, housing, and social services; and create the core institutions of a free economy. These recommendations are not a prescription for Cuba?s future, but an indication of the kind of assistance the United States and the international community should be prepared to offer a free Cuba.

The commission also sought a more proactive, integrated, and disciplined approach to undermine the survival strategies of the Castro regime and contribute to conditions that will help the Cuban people hasten the dictatorship?s end. The recommendations focus on actions available to the United States Government, allowing it to establish a strong foundation on which to build supportive international efforts. This comprehensive framework is composed of six interrelated tasks considered central to hastening change: empowering Cuban civil society; breaking the Cuban Government?s information blockade on the Cuban people; denying resources to the regime; illuminating the reality of Castro?s Cuba to the rest of the world; encouraging international diplomatic efforts to support Cuban civil society and challenge the Castro regime; and finally, undermining the regime?s 'succession strategy.'

The Commission released its latest report in July 2006 (www.cafc.gov) as well as the 'Compact with the Cuban People.' The Compact with the Cuban People is a message of hope from the United States to the people of Cuba and a clear statement of principles to reassure Cubans that the U.S. stands with them in their desire for freedom.

The Second Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (CAFC II) sets forth specific assistance and programs the United States can offer to advance freedom and democracy in Cuba. The recommendations include $80 million over the next two fiscal years, to support these activities. Over the past decade, the regime has built an apparatus designed to exploit humanitarian aspects of U.S. policy, specifically to siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars for itself. To deny resources to the regime, U.S. law enforcement authorities have been directed to conduct 'sting' operations against 'mule' networks and others who illegally carry money and to offer rewards to those who report on illegal remittances that lead to enforcement actions; family visits to Cuba have been limited to one trip every 3 years under a specific license (individuals are eligible to apply for a specific license 3 years after their last visit to Cuba); and the current authorized per diem amount (the authorized amount allowed for food and lodging expenses for travel in Cuba) has been reduced from $164 per day to $50 per day (i.e., approximately eight times what a Cuban national would expect to earn during a 14-day visit) for all family visits to Cuba, based on the presumption that travelers will stay with family in Cuba.

U.S. policy also pursues a multilateral effort to press for democratic change by urging its friends and allies to actively promote a democratic transition and respect for human rights. The United States opposes consideration of Cuba's return to the OAS or inclusion in the Summit of the Americas process until there is a democratic Cuban Government. The United States has repeatedly made clear, however, that it is prepared to respond reciprocally if the Cuban Government initiates fundamental, systematic, democratic change and respect for human rights.

All U.S. travel to Cuba must be licensed by the Department of Treasury?s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), and must fall into one of ten categories. Further information on the licensing process can be obtained from OFAC or at their website. All exports to Cuba must also be licensed by the Commerce Department?s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Further information on exports to Cuba can be found at the BIS website.

Principal U.S. Interests Section Officials
Chief of Mission--Michael E. Parmly
Deputy Chief of Mission--Buddy Williams
Political/Economic Counselor--Robert Blau
Consul General--Carl Cockburn
Public Affairs Officer--David McCawley (acting)
Management Officer--William Rada

The U.S. Interests Section is located at Calzada between L & M Streets, Vedado, Havana, switchboard: (53-7) 33-3551-3559, fax/general: 33-3700. U.S. Information Service: 33-3967 fax: 33-3869, hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Emergencies/after hours: 33-3026.


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