September 25, 2007

ON JANUARY 31, A CUBAN MERCHANT SHIP IN international waters refused a U.S. Coast Guard order to stop and be searched for drugs. The Cuban crew vowed to defend the ship with machetes andkitchen knives. For nearly two hours, the vessel was bombarded by volleys of machine- gun and cannon fire. It finally hobbled into the port of Tam- pico, where the ship's captain requested a search by Mexican officials. All they found was a load of Cuban chromium ore. Heady with victory after the invasion of Panama and the defeat of the Sandinistas, the Bush administration has stepped up the 30-year war against Cuba. It is waging a fierce cam- paign to block loans to Havana and to prevent U.S. allies from trading with Cuba. "The United States strong-armed Japan to cut purchases of Cuban sugar," claimed Dr. Denio Cama- cho, head of the legal department of the National Assembly. "And a Spanish firm, ready to invest millions in developing tourist facilities in Cayo Coco, buckled under U.S. pres- sure." In July, Bush made Western assistance to the Soviet Union ontingent upon cutbacks in Soviet aid to Cuba. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has proposed amendments to further restrict foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations from trading with Cuba (trade currently valued at $250 million); to allow for the seizure of any vessel in U.S. ports which had engaged in trade in Cuban ports within the last 180 days; and to reduce economic assistance to importers of Cuban sugar-a move aimed at Eastern Europe. In March Cuban exiles in Miami sent off 200 helium balloons-each 12 feet across-their tails caricatures of Fidel Castro hung by the neck, with hands and ankles bound. Inside were anti- Castro leaflets and thousands of packets of coffee and dispos- able razors. Since March the U.S. government has been violating international broadcasting agreements daily by* beaming television programming directly to Cuba. Due to Cuban jamming, "TV Marti" can not be seen on the island. In May, the Pentagon held three simultaneous exercises that included maneuvers at the Guantinamo Naval Base in the western part of the island, a practice invasion and a mock air strike with over 200 bombers and fighter planes. "We thought nothing could be worse than the Reagan years," recalled Havana's Deputy Foreign Minister Oscar Orama, "but this is even worse than the Bay of Pigs."

Tags: Cuba, US foreign policy, Embargo, ship seizure

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