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Cuba Wire: Nader in Cuba

During an almost two-hour master lecture in the University of Havana's Aula Magna, attended by President Fidel Castro, Nader talked of the current relations between both countries, suggesting that the United States give Cuba the chance to breathe so that it can develop in its own way, without restrictions.

Also: US Congress Debates the Embargo
Nader in Havana: U.S. should let Cubans breathe.
Granma.
10 July 2002.

HAVANA—Former U.S. presidential candidate Ralph Nader stated that he is opposed to the concentration of power within corporations that is impeding the development of democracy in his country, and criticized his government's foreign policy on the island which, he said, doesn't give Cubans a chance to breathe.

During an almost two-hour master lecture in the University of Havana's Aula Magna, attended by President Fidel Castro, Nader talked of the current relations between both countries, suggesting that the United States give Cuba the chance to breathe so that it can develop in its own way, without restrictions.

He also advocated that the island should transmit its experiences in various experiences to the rest of the world, and cooperation between the two nations, particularly in the health sector.

Nader began by saying he would talk about symbols and governments, the myths and realities of the United States, some of whose past leaders had warned that a concentration of wealth and power cannot co-exist with democracy.
He explained how commercial values have overtaken the interests of the U.S. people, thus weakening their civil rights to the point that freedom could be lost without even amending the Constitution.

f the United States is the greatest military power, why does it have the highest rate of child poverty in western democracies, Nader asked, pointing out that the national level stands at 20%, rising to 30% in the district of Columbia. Why has the U.S. economy doubled but six million families are unable to pay their rent?

Nader enumerated a series of questions on the U.S. system, highlighting that in the wake of September 11, his country is now spending more on security than on healthcare for its citizens.

The former presidential candidate, who did not discount running again in 2004, also criticized the way in which his country's two political parties establish barriers to prevent other political groups participating in government debates.
Wealth is currently concentrated in the hands of the few, controlling elections, the Government and the information media, he stated. Nader referred to civil rights restrictions after September 11, affirming that this has become the U.S. response every time it feels threatened, no matter how distant that threat is.

He asked what would happen if his nation were exposed to attacks, blockades and restrictions for 40 years. What would happen? he repeated, leaving the answer open to imagination.

In his opinion, the blockade has not managed to destabilize the Cuban government, but has strengthened it, and he questioned the U.S. authorities' double standard on that point, comparing it with the attitude of his country's citizens who are increasingly calling for relations to be normalized.

He likewise believes that the U.S. press should make more mention of Cuban society's achievements and positive aspects.

Ralph Nader, Green Party candidate in the 2000 presidential elections, visited the island at the invitation of the National Assembly of People's Power, and was received by President Fidel Castro.

He has also met with Rosa Elena Simeon, minister of science, technology and the environment; Alfredo Morales, minister of labor and social security; Felipe P‚rez Roque, minister of foreign affairs; and Osvaldo Martˇnez, president of the Parliamentary Economic Commission. The rector of the University of Havana presented Nader with a commemorative plaque celebrating the 270th anniversary of the founding of that center of higher education.

TRAVEL TO CUBA GOOD FOR U.S.A.
CONGRESS TAKES ON BAN,
NEW STUDY SHOWS ECONOMIC GAINS

Washington, D.C. - This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will take on a measure to lift the decades-old ban on American travel to Cuba. On Wednesday, July 17,Congressman Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced an amendment to the Treasury/Postal appropriations bill that would end funding of enforcement of the travel ban, making it difficult or impossible for the U.S. government to prevent Americans from visiting the island. The amendment is expected to pass.

The Flake amendment will arrive on the heels of findings that the ban is costly to the U.S. economy. According to a June 2002 study by the Cuba Policy Foundation, ending the travel ban would produce significant growth for the U.S. travel economy. One year after lifting the travel ban, U.S. airlines, cruise ships, hotels, travel agents and others would see over $500 million in revenue and the creation of over 3,700 jobs. And this growth would continue: in the fifth year, the U.S. travel sector would reap over $1.9 billion in annual income and create over 10,000 jobs for Americans.

Both houses of the U.S. Congress have indicated support for ending the ban. In July 2001, Rep. Flake introduced an amendment to end funding for enforcement of the travel ban, which passed 240-186. The year before, an identical amendment introduced by then-Congressman Mark Sanford (R-SC) passed 232-186.

Meanwhile, on July 11, 2002, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced a companion amendment to the upcoming Flake amendment, which means that the language will appear in both houses' versions of the bill. This increases the likelihood that the measure will have to be considered by President Bush, who has indicated that he will not support any measures to ease the Cuban embargo.

The American people also appear ready for an end to the travel ban. According to an April 2001 poll by the Cuba Policy Foundation, 66.8 percent of Americans think Americans should be allowed to travel to Cuba. "Americans want to travel to Cuba, and a growing bipartisan coalition in Congress supports them. It is time U.S. policy reflects the sentiment in Congress and the will of the American people," said Ambassador Cowal.

"The travel ban is hurting the U.S. economy, particularly the beleaguered travel industry, which is suffering because of the September 11 attacks and the broader U.S. economic slow-down," said Ms. Cowal. "When a policy contradicts the majority will and is bad for our economy, it is time for a new policy," Ms. Cowal added.

For more information, please contact Cuba Policy Foundation. The Cuba Policy Foundation economic impact report on the costs of the Cuba travel ban is available at: www.cubapolicyfoundation.org.

Cuba Policy Foundation
2300 M Street, NW, Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20037 Tel. (202) 835-0200 Fax (202) 835-0291 Web:
www.CubaPolicyFoundation.org
2300 M Street, NW, Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20037
Tel. (202) 835-0200 Fax (202) 835-0291 Web:
www.CubaPolicyFoundation.org


CONGRESS to vote on Embargo

Please call your representative TODAY! Urge support for the following amendments to the Treasury-Postal Appropriations Bill:
(Click here  http://clerk.house.gov/members/mcapdir.php for a congressional phone directory ).

FLAKE AMENDMENT ON TRAVEL TO CUBA: Ends funding for enforcement of the travel ban, making it difficult or impossible to enforce the ban on Americans from travel to Cuba.

MORAN AMENDMENT ON FARM SALES TO CUBA: Makes it easier for U.S. farmers to export their products to Cuba. The American farm economy could benefit up to $1.24 billion per year in exports to Cuba. It is already possible for Americans to sell food to Cuba, and this amendment provides a fix to simplify this process and make exports to Cuba more lucrative for American farmers.

RANGEL AMENDMENT ON CUBAN EMBARGO: Ends enforcement of the entire embargo, sending the clearest signal that it is time to end a forty-year foreign policy failure. Overall, the embargo's negative impact on the U.S. economy runs into the billions of dollars annually and prevents the creation of tens of thousands of jobs for American workers.

[Thanks to Brian Alexander of the Cuba Policy Foundation for providing this information]

The Cuban American Alliance Education Fund, Inc. (CAAEF) is a
national network of Cuban Americans that educates the public at large
on issues related to hardships caused by current U.S.-Cuba
relations. The Alliance is a vehicle for the development of mutually
beneficial engagements which promote understanding and human
compassion. Visit our website at  http://cubamer.org