The “Cold War” between the USA and Cuba reached a new stage.
George Bush is increasing economic and political pressure to Cuba. Fidel Castro responds by closing down the stores which sell goods for “enemy’s” dollars.
George Bush seemed to decide to distract Americans from the scandal of the tortures in Iraq, and focused on Cuba. The US President remembered that there is still no democracy in Cuba, and decided to speed up this process. George Bush made public his dreams of “the happy day when there will be no Castro’s regime any more”.
The main obstacle on the way to democracy in Cuba is Fidel Castro. President Bush showed that he is very tough to Cuban authorities, “We do not just wait, we work for the day of freedom in Cuba to come”, he said to American reporters on May 7.
Special commission headed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, started working on the new plan for Cuba 6 months ago. According to the plan, the broadcast capacity of US propagandist “Radio Marti” will be improved. So far, the programs of this radio were successfully jammed by Cuban authorities.
The most serious things of the plan are its economic measures against Cuba. They will “successfully supplement” US trade embargo against Cuba.
American Cubans will be allowed to visit their home country only once per three years. Today they can visit Cuba once a year. The families of American Cubans will not be allowed to send their relatives more than $1200 a year. “Some members of Cuban Communist Party” will not receive money orders and gifts from their relatives any more. The US administration will decide which of Cuban Communists will be deprived of the small joys of life.
George Bush said that the new strategy is aimed at helping Cuban dissidents and protecting human rights.
The US President said that this strategy would not allow the “oppressive Cuban regime” to use the US hard currency brought by tourists and sent by American Cubans, for their purposes.
US Presidential candidate from Democratic Party John Kerry said that George Bush just uses Cuban issue to gain the support of US Cubans in his election campaign. Mr. Kerry said that 4 years ago George Bush “promised to get the Moon” for US Cubans, but gave them nothing.
In October 2003 George Bush already made a statement about toughening the measures against Cuba. To deprive Fidel Castro of US dollars, George Bush said that the USA started controlling visits of US citizens to Cuba.
Havana called Bush’s measures “cruel and inhuman”. In this way, Cuban authorities indirectly recognize that they depend on the US currency greatly. In the official statement, Cuban government said that these measures are aimed at “suffocating the country’s development, minimizing its hard currency reserves being necessary for providing people with food, development of education and health care.
Cuban authorities responded with some banning measures. Fidel Castro cancelled selling goods for US dollars. Special stores selling goods for dollars, are not operating. US dollars can be used only for buying food, soap and detergent.
Cuban authorities said that “under any circumstances, our country will mobilize additional resources to protect itself from aggression, with minimum damage to Cubans”. The statement ends with the call “to increase patriotic and Socialist outlook of our victorious people”.
Cubans ran to the stores being concerned by предвидя новую «эру затягивания поясов».
Special Cuban stores accepting hard currency were established in the beginning of the 1990s to earn dollars which some Cubans have. These stores belong to the state and offer more goods than ordinary stores. One can buy many things in special stores, from electric appliances to underwear. These “islands of Western way of life” are helping Cuban economy, but on the other hand they create inequality – one of the main enemies of any revolution.
San-Sentinel newspaper in Florida quoted William Leogrande, Dean of the American University in Washington and expert on Cuba. “Castro never liked the double economics created by the influx of US dollars to Cuba. He can decide to cancel the economic reforms which were started in Cuba in the beginning of the 90s”. This is a political game – to show people that Bush’s administration worsened their living standards.
Many Cubans are going to suffer. People are standing in lines to buy food, soap and detergent. There is no information when the currency stores selling other goods, will be opened. The government can open them, but the prices will be absolutely different. Many Cubans earn dollars by giving their apartments for rent to tourists and also receive money orders from their relatives who live abroad. These sources of income will be greatly reduced.
According to experts, closing down currency stores will not be a good measure against Bush’s plan, it will just increase state control over the economy.
After Soviet aid stopped, Cuba started some “liberal reforms”. The US dollar was made legal currency in 1993. The government benefited from this: people spent dollars in the stores owned by the state. Will Cuban economy cope with new hardships?
Bush’s plan was opposed even by those whom the US President was going to assist – Cuban dissidents. Famous human rights activist Osvaldo Paya said that Cubans, not the USA should bring changes to the country.
BBC reported that two more dissidents – Manuel Kuesta and Eloi Gutieres Menoya submitted a letter of protest to the US diplomatic mission in Havana. They wrote that the actions of the USA “interfering which will not contribute to building democracy in Cuba.
”Main dissident” Paya says that one could not tolerate that the forces outside Cuba are trying to model transitional period in the country.
The US administration probably did not even ask Cuban dissidents for advise.