Washington is considering a series of measures to "punish" the Caribbean island. Castro counterattacks: "It would stimulate illegal emigration to the US"
The moderate condemns to Cuba at the United Nations Human Rights Commission last week, clearly frustrated White House's hard line. So, following US foreign policy new pattern, Bush's administration decided to start punishing Cuba on its own, as reported by the New York Times on April 17. According to this newspaper, Washington is studying to prohibit charter flights between both countries and the sending of remittances from USA to people in the island.
The response from Cuba did not take a long time: Cuban officials said in a statement that such measures "would stimulate illegal emigration to the US", something that worries US authorities. In several occasions since the victory of the socialist revolution in 1959, Castro's regime fueled waves of emigration to the Southern US State of Florida to overwhelm local authorities.
"Whatever the economic measures to punish the Cuban people, the US government has few weapons left in its arsenal of actions to take against the Island. They are predictable and will be fought," reads the official Cuban statement. A U.S. State Department official dismissed the Cuban statement, saying Castro has been warning about a migration crisis since last summer.
The new US pattern that says: "if the United Nations does not punish our foes, we will punish them ourselves", found a fierce resistance in Cuba. The long-running diplomatic confrontation between the 1898 invaders and the then-invaded but liberated since 1959, entered into a new hot phase last summer when Castro had warned about a migration crisis due to the alleged US support to Cuban dissidents within the island.
Cuba says that has proven ties between the US envoy to the Caribbean island and the local dissidence. Therefore, decided to restrict the movement of the head of the US mission in Havana and jail dozens of dissidents for conspiracy and counterrevolutionary activities. Castro's measure tied the score between both countries, as movements of Cuban diplomats had been restricted a long time ago in the USA and Florida's jails host five Cuban citizens for allegedly endangering US national security.
Both Castro and Bush have many interests exposed in the mutual relation. Castro's game is the survival of the revolution, itself. As per the US President, he is interested in keeping votes from the anti-Castro Cuban community living in Florida; the same controversial votes that led him to victory in the still unclear 2000 elections.
Castro's Government is worried about the incoming measures, as many families in Cuba live with the money they receive from their relatives in the United States. The remittances total up to $1 billion a year and are a major source of revenue for the government and vital to many Cubans who cannot live on their salaries alone. The direct flights are used mostly by Cuban Americans to visit relatives, as US citizens are not allowed to travel to the island.
"It's curious that now, the US government considers the idea to ban trips and remittances to punish Cuba. More than 40 years of Cuban Revolution have shown that our country is able to face any threat and defeat any such plans", reads the defiant Cuban document.
Cuba surpassed last week a key voting at the United Nations on the human rights situation of the country. Washington sponsored the hardest anti-Cuban resolution, but not succeeded as the Commission voted for a more moderate ballot.