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Bush Counters Carter Visit to Cuba with Tougher Sanctions & Aid to Dissidents

Larry Birns is the director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs spoke with Between the Lines' Denise Manzari about what he says is an auctioning off of U.S.-Cuba policy in exchange for financial political support from the right-wing anti-Castro constituency in Miami.
Bush Counters Carter Visit to Cuba with Tougher Sanctions and Aid to Dissidents

President and his brother Jeb cultivate Cuban American votes critical to GOP's electoral strategy

Interview by Between The Lines'Denise Manzari

On May 20, Cuban Independence Day, President George W. Bush gave his "Initiative for a New Cuba" speech that reinforced his hardline policy against Cuba. Bush's policy is in sharp contrast to Jimmy Carter's call to normalize U.S. trade and travel with the island nation.

Bush gave his policy address before Miami's Cuban American National Foundation an audience comprised mostly of wealthy Cuban exiles, where he denounced the Castro regime. With assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Otto Reich at his side, he announced that the U.S. would intensify its economic and politica isolation of Cuba by maintaining the existing travel ban and trade embargo. He also stated his administration would provide increased aid to political dissidents on the island and new U.S. produced anti-Castro TV and radio broadcasts.

However, critics charge that the Bush administration's policy seeks to maintain political support in Florida's hardline Cuban American community, which helped secure his victory in the 2000 presidential election and will assist his brother Gov. Jeb Bush's re-election in November.

Larry Birns is the director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, based in Washington, D.C. He spoke with Between the Lines' Denise Manzari about what he says is an auctioning off of U.S.-Cuba policy in exchange for financial political support from the right-wing anti-Castro constituency in Miami(A RealAudio Version of this interview may be found at www.btlonline.org).

For more information, call the Council on Hemispheric Affairs at (202) 216-9261 or visit their Web site at www.coha.org

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