Bush Tightens Cuba Travel Rules.
President Bush tightened U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba on
Thursday, saying that Fidel Castro's government has taken steps to
destabilize relations with the United States over the past year.
Bush signed an order to expand the government's authority to prevent the
unauthorized departure of ships from U.S. waters bound for Cuba. He said
U.S. authorities would be empowered to inspect any vessel in the
territorial waters of the United States and take other steps if
Bush's order would tighten enforcement of the U.S. embargo on Cuba by
making it harder for unauthorized vessels to enter Cuban territorial
He said Castro's government "has over the course of its 45-year
existence repeatedly used violence and the threat of violence to
undermine U.S. policy interests. This same regime continues in power
today, and has since 1959 maintained a pattern of hostile actions
contrary to U.S. policy interests."
Bush's move is likely to be welcomed by anti-Castro forces in the United
States, particularly in Florida, a key state in Bush's re-election
Bush said that over the past year, Cuba has taken a series of steps to
destabilize relations with the United States, such as threatening to
rescind migration accords with the United States and to close the U.S.
interests section in Havana. Further, he said that Cuba's top officials
have repeatedly said that the United States intended to invade Cuba,
despite explicit denials from the United States.
The president noted that the United States had warned Cuba last May 8
that any political moves that resulted in a mass migration would be
viewed as a hostile act.
Bush directed Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to develop new rules
to keep "unauthorized U.S. vessels" out of Cuban territorial waters.
The president said the passage of American boats into Cuban waters could
bring injury or death to anyone on the vessels, "due to the potential
use of excessive force, including deadly force, against them by the
Cuban military." Crossing into Cuban territorial waters is already
against U.S. law for unauthorized vessels, he said.
Moreover, such boats and ships bring money and commerce into Cuba, which
runs contrary to U.S. policy aiming to "deny resources to the repressive
Cuban government," Bush said. Castro's government may use such cash to
support terrorist activities, he said.
La Nueva Cuba
February 27, 2004