Recommendations to tighten up the screws on Castro may backfire on Bush (

WASHINGTON ( – The tiny island nation of Cuba has vowed to fight the new sanctions implemented by the Bush administration’s plan to “destabilize and overthrow the Cuban government.”

“This country, without violating the standards it has always observed in its struggles, will defend itself with the law, and it will defend itself with weapons whenever this is necessary, to the last drop of blood,” said President Fidel Castro to his country after hearing about the restrictions.


The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which is under the direction of Secretary of State Colin Powell, crafted the 500-page report. The group was created last fall to expedite “Cuba’s peaceful transition to a representative democracy and a free market economy.”

The commission has allocated $59 million to achieve its goals, which also includes limiting family visits to one trip every three years for immediate family members only, reduce the amount that U.S. visitors can spend on food and lodging in Cuba from $164 a day to only $50. The plan also limits the amount of money and gifts that can be sent to immediate family members.

“This document, submitted by the so-called Presidential Commission, outlines several strategic steps to topple the Cuban government, including: increased support to fabricate an internal opposition, step up international smear campaigns against Cuba, intensify subversive actions and disinformation against Cuba, new moves to affect the Cuban economy, and the so-called “undermining the regime’s succession plans” objective,” said Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C.

He said at a May 10 press conference, “This plan to destabilize and overthrow the Cuban government runs counter to every standing norm. It interferes in Cuban domestic affairs and constitutes a brutal violation of the Cuban peoples’ human rights, of the rights of Cubans residing in the United States and a massive effort to divide our families, by restricting the concept of who are considered direct family members and by hampering their ability to communicate and assist each other.”

The Commission also recommended creating a “Transition Coordinator” in the State Department “to facilitate expanded implementation of pro-democracy, civil-society building, and public diplomacy projects and to continue regular planning for future transition assistance contingencies.”

This move has infuriated the Cuban administration.

“Allocating tens of millions of dollars to promote the use of mercenaries in Cuba, violating international laws by broadcasting subversive TV signals to another country from a military plane, along with the scandalous fact of keeping a concentration camp (Guantanamo Bay)–which has met worldwide criticism–in a territory occupied by force in our country, constitutes unheard-of acts of provocation, which trample on the standards and principles of international law. These issues will have to be debated in diverse world forums, including the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva,” said Mr. Barrera.

The commission’s plan was received with great anger and rage by the people in Cuba who will face financial hardships as the country struggles to accommodate to the new restrictions. The country had a thriving tourist industry that depended on U.S. dollars. Many merchants in Cuba were considered “dollar stores” because they required American currency for essentials that were not readily available in stores where pesos are accepted. The restrictions sent Cubans into massive shopping sprees to secure items before the prices went up or became unavailable.

“The opportunistic behavior and cruel nature of the current U.S. administration are abundantly demonstrated by adopting these measures against our people, precisely at a moment when the prices of foodstuff purchases and shipping have doubled in the international market, when the price of sugar barely offsets production costs and oil prices steadily grow up to the unbearable $40 per barrel mark. The intention is to deal a deadly blow to tourism and other sectors of the economy,” Mr. Barrera contended.

While Cuba works tirelessly to be colorblind to race, these sanctions are not. “The recommendations the committee came up with, however, will do little to hurt Castro and more to hurt the Afro-Cubans who make up the majority of Cuba’s 11 million people,” wrote award-winning columnist Tonyaa Weathersbee on Black America Web.

“The recommendations, which the administration will enact soon, likely won’t hurt White Cubans much. That’s because many of them have close relatives who live in the United States, many of whom fled the island in the 1960s and 1970s.”

She continued, “Afro-Cubans, however, didn’t flee Cuba in mass numbers because they saw the revolution move the island closer to racial equality-–and because they believed that police dogs and Bull Connor awaited them in the United States.”

The new policy directly affects Afro-Cubans because they have made numerous friends with members of Black groups that have visited the island and been inspired to help the Cubans.

“These measures and the overall U.S. policy openly disregard the real interests of the American people, of the vast majority of Cubans who live in the United States who have become victims of the U.S. government’s draconian hatred towards Cuba, of the overwhelming majority of the members of the U.S. Congress and of vast sectors of the American society that long for a normal relationship,” said Mr. Barrera 

“Their cruel and cowardly actions will no doubt impose sacrifices to our people, yet they will not be able to stop for a second our march towards meeting the human and social objectives we have set and no Cuban will be left behind. Cuba will never return to the horrible and inhumane condition of being a U.S. colony. Cubans are peace-loving people and they have given repeated evidence of their desire to maintain normal relations with the American people.”