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 Home > News & Policies > May 2002

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 20, 2002

President Bush Announces Initiative for a New Cuba

The President announced today his Initiative for a New Cuba. This initiative, the result of a policy review conducted by the White House, is an effort to bring Cuba into the Western Hemisphere's community of democracies.

  • The Initiative calls on the Cuban government to undertake political and economic reforms and conduct free and fair elections next year for the National As sembly.
  • The Initiative challenges the Cuban government to open its economy, allow independent trade unions, and end discriminatory practices against Cuban workers .
  • If the Cuban government takes these concrete steps toward democracy, President Bush will work with the United States Congress to ease the ban on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba.
With reform, trade can benefit the Cuban people and allow them to share in the progress of our time. Without major reform, trade with Cuba will only help the Castro regime, not the Cuban people.

The United States has long maintained that the Cuban government must move to a democratic system that fully respects the human rights of its people. This wil l remain the Administration's policy.

The Initiative for a New Cuba reaches out to the Cuban people immediately with the following new steps to make life better for people living under Castro's rule:

  • facilitating meaningful humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people by American religious and other non-governmental groups;
  • providing direct assistance to the Cuban people through non-governmental organizations;
  • calling for the resumption of direct mail service to and from Cuba; and
  • establishing scholarships in the United States for Cuban students and professionals trying to build independent civil institutions and for family members of political prisoners.
The Initiative for a New Cuba also states that the United States is not a threat to Cuban sovereignty.

Under the Initiative for a New Cuba, the Administration will continue to work to mitigate the suffering of the Cuban people. This Initiative is the beginning of an ongoing, flexible, and responsive campaign designed to generate rapid and peaceful change within Cuba.