Moves by U.S. and Cuba May Hurt the Poor

Cuban Prelates Foresee Fallout of Tougher Embargo

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HAVANA, MAY 30, 2004 ( The toughening of the U.S. embargo against Cuba and the latter’s response — an increase in prices — will harm poor families above all, says the island nation’s bishops.

Last Wednesday, the Permanent Committee of the Cuban bishops’ conference, made up of five of the island’s 13 prelates, published a note expressing «the disconcert and anguish that these events have generated in our people.»

«Cuban families, which constitute a place of reconciliation and dialogue in the midst of our reality, are especially harmed, as to the difficulties and burdens known by all are added new privations and burdens that worsen their already anguished situation as well as the separation of those who live in Cuba and in the United States,» the prelates stated.

At the start of May, the U.S. State Department presented to President George Bush a number of initiatives to reinforce the sanctions on the island, such as measures to limit remittances or to increase control on those doing business with Havana.

Since May 24, Cuban stores that charge in dollars have had to contend with an average increase in prices of 15.4%, including on some basic items, official sources reported. The sources blamed these measures on the hardening of Washington’s embargo.

«All this,» the bishops lamented, «at a time when peace, dialogue, reconciliation, union and hope is needed to revitalize the institution of the family and to put the latter’s good above political and ideological prejudices.»

«It is painful to see that the measures announced by the United States and those taken by the Cuban government affect, directly or indirectly, the poorest families of our nation,» the prelates said.

Their note added: «We consider it unacceptable that Cuba’s future is planned on the basis of exclusions and even more so that interventions are conceived by a foreign government.»

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