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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Statement on Cuba
Washington, D.C., January 5, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. Last March, in response to Pope John Paul IIís inspired pilgrimage to Cuba, the Clinton Administration took steps to reach out to the people of that country to make clear our concern for them and to help make their lives more tolerable.

Today, after consultations with concerned non-governmental organizations and leading members of Congress, weíre announcing additional steps in furtherance of that policy. Our goal is to encourage the development in Cuba of peaceful, civic activities that are independent of the government, and that will help the Cuban people prepare for the day when their country is once again free.

First, we will seek to expose additional elements of Cuban society to democratic practices and values by encouraging additional religious, scientific, educational, athletic and other exchanges between our two peoples. We will do this by streamlining visa and licensing procedures for travel between Cuba and the United States by qualified persons other than senior Cuban government officials.

Second, we will expand direct licensed passenger flights to Cuba by authorizing flights from cities other than Miami and to destinations in Cuba other than Havana.

Third, we are broadening the categories of eligible recipients in Cuba for the receipt of financial remittances from the United States. Under this policy, all US residents will be authorized to send up to $300 each quarter to any Cuban family, except for senior government and party leaders. In addition, US citizens and non-governmental organizations will be licensed on a case-by-case basis to send larger remittances to entities in Cuba that are independent of the Cuban Government.

Fourth, we will authorize the sale of food and agricultural inputs to private entities and farmers in Cuba. This will also be done on a case-by-case basis and for the purpose of promoting economic activity that is independent of the Cuban Government.

Finally, we will seek to restore direct mail service between the United States and Cuba.

These steps are neither designed nor expected to alter our relations with the Cuban Government. But taken together, they constitute a major advance in our effort to reach out to the Cuban people. They should help all Cubans to understand that the United States is on their side in the search for economic choice and prosperity, in the quest for the freedom of religion, expression and thought, and in the desire to fulfill Jose Martiís dream of a Cuba where all may participate freely in the political life of their country.

One year ago, Pope John Paul II brought to Cuba a message of hope and justice, liberty and love. Thanks to him, the right to celebrate Christmas has been restored to the people of Cuba. Unfortunately, the Cuban Government has shown no interest in restoring other freedoms. On the contrary, authorities have been heavy-handed in crushing efforts to express dissent or to mobilize support for internationally recognized human rights.

It is the responsibility of the United States, our partners in the hemisphere, and the world at large to maintain pressure for democratic change. To this end, the Clinton Administration will continue to support adequate funding for broadcasting to Cuba. We will ask the Broadcasting Board of Governors to study possible additional broadcasting sites, and we will intensify our efforts through public diplomacy to promote international support for those in Cuba who are struggling to gain the freedoms to which people everywhere are entitled.

As President Clinton emphasized in his own statement today, our policy is designed to promote closer ties between our people and those of Cuba without providing aid and comfort to a repressive and backward looking regime. Our policy recognizes the importance of helping Cuban families to overcome the divisions imposed by immigration and exile. For as one Cuban-American leader told us, in building civil society the strongest non-governmental organization is the family.

Before closing, I want to note with appreciation the constructive proposal put forward by Senators Warner and Dodd and others concerning the possible creation of a bipartisan commission on US policy towards Cuba. Although we do not support establishing such a commission at this time, we will continue to work with them and others on constructive ideas for encouraging a democratic transition in Cuba.

Next year, the world will begin a new century. In Cuba, where the population is especially young, the personalities and policies, the leadership remained mired in the past but the focus of the people is rightly on the future. We and the people of Cuba must act with tomorrow in mind. Fully aware of present obstacles, we share a faith in the power of liberty to inspire peaceful but far-reaching change. Although we cannot foretell how soon, we know the day is drawing closer when the community of freedom will once more encompass the pearl of the Antilles, and the hemisphere of the American democracies will be complete.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

For further information, see Cuba: Additional Steps Announced January 5, 1999.

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