US to tighten curbs on Cuba

US President George Bush has stepped up pressure on Cuba, announcing new measures to tighten sanctions on Fidel Castro's communist island.

    Bush has been pressing for a regime change in Cuba

    Bush announced that restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens would be more strongly enforced and the information campaign against Cuba's communist government intensified.

    Highlighting US efforts to persuade Castro to hold "free and fair elections," Bush said "the dictator has responded with defiance and contempt and a new round of brutal oppression that outraged the world's conscience."

    The US president said the communist government will not change by its own choice. "But Cuba must change," Bush said.

    Bush was speaking in the White House, commemorating the anniversary of Cuba's quest for independence beginning in 1868.

    Bush said he had asked the Treasury Department to more strictly enforce restrictions on visits to Cuba by US nationals.

    "We are strengthening enforcement of those travel restrictions to Cuba that are already in place," the president said.

    Exceptions for family visits, to deliver humanitarian aid or conduct research "are too often used as a cover for illegal business travel and tourism, or to skirt the restrictions on carrying cash into Cuba," he said.

    US loves to hate Cuban President
    Fidel Castro

    "We are cracking down on this deception," Bush added.

    Easier immigration

    The US president also announced that Washington would be more lenient in taking in Cuban immigrants.

    He said the administration was "working to ensure that Cubans fleeing the dictatorship do not risk their lives at sea."

    Bush said greater efforts would be made to make broadcasts to Cuba and announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez would co-chair a new Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba.

    Cuban-Americans, largely opposed to Castro, welcomed the new US measures.

    "We are very, very pleased with the steps this government has taken," a Cuban-American and Republican Florida lawmaker Mario Diaz-Balart said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    'We scoured for days without sleeping, just clothes on our backs'

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    Unification: Saladin and the Fall of Jerusalem

    We explore how Salah Ed-Din unified the Muslim states and recaptured the holy city of Jerusalem from the crusaders.