July 13, 2001: Statement on Cuba

President George W. Bush issued the following statement on July 13, 2001, related to increased enforcement of sanctions against Cuba and increased support for opposition forces on the island.

Seven years ago today, a tugboat carrying 72 people off the coast of Cuba, the 13 de Marzo, was repeatedly rammed by Cuban authorities resulting in 41 deaths, including 10 children. On this sad anniversary, the United States extends condolences to the families and survivors of this tragedy. The tyranny that rules Cuba today bears direct responsibility for this and other crimes — crimes, that should not go unpunished, against innocent civilians and countless other human rights violations over the years.

As I said on Cuban Independence Day, the sanctions the United States enforces against the Castro regime are not just a policy tool, but a moral statement. It is wrong to prop up a regime that routinely stifles all the freedoms that make us human. The United States stands opposed to such tyranny and will oppose any attempt to weaken sanctions against the Castro regime until it respects the basic human rights of its citizens, frees political prisoners, holds democratic free elections, and allows free speech.

In order to manage more effectively the sanctions against the Cuban regime and enforce the federal regulations governing the embargo, I have asked the Treasury Department to enhance and expand the enforcement capabilities of the Office of Foreign Assets Control in this area. It is important that we uphold and enforce the law to the fullest extent with a view toward preventing unlicensed and excessive travel, enforcing limits on remittances, and ensuring humanitarian and cultural exchanges actually reach pro-democracy activists in Cuba.

In addition, I will expand support for human rights activists, and the democratic opposition; and, we will provide additional funding for non-governmental organizations to work on pro-democracy programs in Cuba. Focusing our support on activities that promote democratic values, will go a long way toward accelerating the democratic transition of Cuba.

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to announce the Director, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Mr. Salvador Lew, a well-respected journalist and member of the Advisory Board for Cuba Broadcasting. I have told Mr. Lew that my number one priority is to make sure that Radio and TV Marti are broadcast clearly to Cuba allowing every Cuban citizen access to accurate news and information. In order to do that, I have instructed him to use all available means to overcome the jamming of Radio and TV Marti. Once we open the flow of information, the demands for freedom will ring stronger than ever.

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