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Fact Sheet: Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba

May 06, 2004

The objectives of United States policy towards Cuba are clear:

  • Bring an end to the ruthless and brutal dictatorship;
  • Assist the Cuban people in a transition to representative democracy; and
  • Assist the Cuban people in establishing a free market economy.

To achieve these objectives, the President created the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba with a mandate to identify:

  • Additional measures to help the Cuban people bring to an end the dictatorship; and
  • Elements of a plan for agile, effective, and decisive assistance to a post-dictatorship Cuba.

In response to the mandate to support the hastening of democratic change in Cuba, the Commission recommended an integrated approach which pairs a more robust and effective effort to support the opposition in Cuba with measures to limit the regime's cynical manipulation of humanitarian policies and to undermine its survival strategies.

Immediate Actions:

Hastening the End of the Cuban Dictatorship

  1. The President has directed that up to $59 million over the next 2 years be committed to implementing key Commission recommendations including:
    • Up to $36 million to carry out democracy-building activities, support for the family members of the political opposition, and to support efforts to help youth, women, and Afro-Cubans take their rightful place in the pro-democracy movement;
    • Up to $18 million for regular airborne broadcasts to Cuba and the purchase of a dedicated airborne platform for the transmission of Radio and Television Mart into Cuba; and
    • Provide $5 million for public diplomacy efforts to disseminate information abroad about U.S. foreign policy, including Castro's record of abusing human rights, harboring terrorists, committing espionage against other countries, fomenting subversion of democratically-elected governments in Latin America, and other actions which pose a threat to United States national interests.
  2. The President has also directed that the following actions be taken to deny resources and legitimacy to the Castro regime:
    • Eliminate abuses of educational travel programs through tighter regulations;
    • Counter the regime's manipulation of our humanitarian policies by:
      • Limiting recipients of remittances and gift parcels to immediate family members, while denying remittances and gift parcels to certain Cuban officials and Communist Party members;
      • Stepping up law enforcement and sting operations against "mule" networks and others who illegally carry money;
      • Limiting family visits to Cuba to one trip every three years under a specific license to visit immediate family (grandparents, grandchildren, parents, siblings, spouses, and children) (new arrivals from Cuba would be eligible to apply for a license 3 years after leaving Cuba); and
      • Reducing the authorized per diem amount for a family visit (the authorized amount allowed for food and lodging expenses for travel in Cuba) from $164 per day to $50 per day (8 times a Cuban national's likely earnings in a 14-day visit).
    • Neutralize Cuban government front companies by establishing a Cuban Asset Targeting Group made up of law enforcement authorities to investigate and identify new ways hard currency moves in and out of Cuba;
    • Support and work with NGOs and other interested parties to help Cuban citizens access the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and to provide in-country training to help to prepare claims for the IACHR;
    • Ensure that Cuban independent labor representatives are able to engage with the International Labor Organization, and to draw attention to exploitative labor conditions in Cuba and to assist Cuban workers in obtaining redress; and
    • Target regime officials for visa denial if they (1) are or were involved in torture or other serious human rights abuses or (2) provided assistance to fugitives from U.S. justice.
  3. The President has directed the establishment of a Transition Coordinator at the State Department to facilitate expanded implementation of pro-democracy, civil-society building, and public diplomacy projects and to continue regular planning for future transition assistance contingencies.

Plans to Assist a Free Cuba Transition to Democracy and a Free Market Economy:

  • The Commission has worked and will continue to work with interested parties to develop recommendations to help the Cuban people recover the lost decades of the Castro years.
  • These recommendations are not a prescription for Cuba's future, but an indication of the kind of assistance the international community should be prepared to offer a free Cuba.
  • These recommendations will serve as the basis for a process of engagement with other countries, and international organizations to ensure that they too are prepared to support a Free Cuba.
  • The recommendations outline how the United States could assist a free Cuba to:
    • Consolidate the transition and build a strong democracy based upon democratic institutions, the rule of law, and respect for human rights;
    • Meet the basic needs of the Cuban people in the areas of health, education, housing, and human services, while the Cuban people sweep aside the consequences of decades of cynical decisions by the regime to concentrate resources on sustaining the repressive apparatus;
    • Create the core institutions of a free economy, unleashing the creative potential and entrepreneurial spirit of the Cuban people which have for too long been stifled by the regime;
    • Modernize infrastructure so that it can support humanitarian efforts and the growth of a modern, vibrant economy; and
    • Recover and safeguard its environmental assets and ensure that they are put to use for the benefit of the Cuban people.

For the Entire Commission Report visit:

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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