U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Cuba
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs
Official Name: Republic of Cuba
Area: 110,860 sq. km. (44,200 sq. mi.); about the size of Pennsylvania.
Cities: Capital--Havana (pop. 2 million). Other major cities--Santiago
de Cuba, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Holguin, Guantanamo, Matanzas,
Cienfuegos, Pinar del Rio.
Terrain: Flat or gently rolling plains, hills, mountains up to 2,000
meters (6,000 ft.) in the southeast.
Climate: Tropical, moderated by trade winds; dry season (November-
April); rainy season (May-October).
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Cuban(s).
Population: 11 million; 70% urban, 30% rural.
Avg. annual growth rate: 0.41%.
Ethnic groups: Spanish-African mixture.
Education: Years compulsory--6 . Attendance--92% (ages 6-16).
Health: Infant mortality rate--7.2/1,000. Life expectancy--78 yrs. for
women, 73 yrs. for men.
Work force (4.5 million): Government and services--30%. Industry--22%.
Agriculture--20%. Commerce--11%. Construction--11%. Transportation
Type: Communist state; current government assumed power January 1, 1959.
Independence: May 20, 1902.
Constitution: February 24, 1976.
Branches: Executive--president, council of ministers. Legislative--
National Assembly of People's Government. Judicial--People's Supreme
Political party: Cuban Communist Party (PCC).
Suffrage: All citizens age 16 and older, except those who have applied
for permanent emigration. National Assembly elections were held in 1998.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 provinces, including the city of Havana,
and one special municipality (Isle of Youth).
GDP (1997 est.): Purchasing power parity $16.9 billion.
Real annual growth rate (1997): 2.5%.
Per capita income: $1,540.
Natural resources: Nickel, cobalt, iron ore, copper, manganese, salt,
Agriculture: Products--sugar, citrus and tropical fruits, tobacco,
coffee, rice, beans, meat, and vegetables.
Industry: Types--sugar and food processing, oil refining, cement,
electric power, light consumer and industrial products.
Trade: Exports--$1.9 billion (FOB, 1997 est.): Sugar and its by-
products, nickel, seafood, citrus, tobacco products, rum. Major
markets--Russia 25%, Canada 15%, Netherlands 11%. Imports--$3.3 billion
(CIF, 1997 est.): petroleum, food, machinery, chemicals. Major
suppliers--Spain 14%, Russia 12%, Mexico 9%.
Official exchange rate: 1 Cuban peso=U.S.$1 (official rate). 23 Cuban
pesos=U.S.$1 (internal exchange rate).
Cuba is a multiracial society with a population of mainly Spanish and
African origins. The largest organized religion is the Roman Catholic
Church. Santeria, a blend of native African religions and Roman
Catholicism, is the most widely practiced religion in Cuba. Officially,
Cuba has been an atheist state for most of the Castro era. However, a
constitutional amendment adopted on July 12, 1992 changed the nature of
the Cuban state from atheist to secular, enabling religious believers to
belong to the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).
Spanish settlers established sugar cane and tobacco as Cuba's primary
products. As the native Indian population died out, African slaves were
imported to work the plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1886.
Cuba was the last major Spanish colony to gain independence, following a
50-year struggle begun in 1850. The final push for independence began in
1895, when Jose Marti, Cuba's national hero, announced the "Grito de
Baire" ("Call to arms from Baire"). In 1898, after the USS Maine sunk
in Havana Harbor on February 15 due to an explosion of undetermined
origin, the United States entered the conflict. In December of that year
Spain relinquished control of Cuba to the United States with the Treaty
of Paris. On May 20, 1902, the United States granted Cuba its
independence, but retained the right to intervene to preserve Cuban
independence and stability under the Platt Amendment. In 1934, the
amendment was repealed and the United States and Cuba reaffirmed the
1903 agreement which leased the Guantanamo Bay naval base to the United
States. The treaty remains in force and can only be terminated by
mutual agreement or abandonment by the United States.
Until 1959, Cuba was often ruled by military figures, who either
obtained or remained in power by force. Fulgencio Batista, an army
sergeant who established himself as Cuba's dominant leader for more than
25 years, fled on January 1, 1959, as Castro's "26th of July Movement"
gained control. Castro had established the movement in Mexico, where he
was exiled after the failed July 26, 1953, attack on the Moncada army
barracks at Santiago de Cuba. Within months of taking power, Castro
moved to consolidate his power by imprisoning or executing opponents.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled the island.
Castro declared Cuba a socialist state on April 16, 1961. For the next
30 years, Castro pursued close relations with the Soviet Union until the
advent of perestroika and the subsequent demise of the U.S.S.R. During
that time Cuba received substantial economic and military assistance
from the U.S.S.R.--generally estimated at $5.6 billion annually--which
kept its economy afloat and enabled it to maintain an enormous military
establishment. In 1962, Cuban-Soviet ties led to a direct confrontation
between the United States and the Soviet Union over the installation of
nuclear-equipped missiles in Cuba, resolved only when the U.S.S.R.
agreed to withdraw the missiles and other offensive weapons. Soviet
subsidies ended in 1991 with the end of the Soviet Union. Former Soviet
military personnel in Cuba--numbering around 15,000 in 1990--were
withdrawn by 1993.
Russia still maintains a signal intelligence-gathering facility at
Lourdes and has provided funding to preserve the still uncompleted
thermonuclear plant at Juragua.
Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro, who
is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the Communist
Party (PCC), and commander in chief of the armed forces. Castro
exercises control over all aspects of Cuban life through the Communist
Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy,
and the state security apparatus. The Ministry of Interior is the
principal organ of state security and control. In addition to the
routine law enforcement functions of regulating migration, controlling
the Border Guard and the regular police forces, the Ministry's
Department of State Security investigates and actively suppresses
organized opposition and dissent.
From January 1959 until December 1976, Castro ruled by decree. The 1976
constitution, extensively revised in 1992, enshrines the PCC as "the
highest leading force of the society and state." In addition to Fidel
Castro and his brother Raul Castro, the center of party power is the 24-
member Politburo. There are 149 members in the Central Committee.
Executive and administrative power is vested in the Council of State and
the subordinate Council of Ministers, over which Fidel Castro presides,
supported by six vice presidents. Legislative authority rests with the
National Assembly of People's Power, which meets annually for about five
days, and is state-controlled. When not in session, the Assembly is
represented by the Council of State. Fidel Castro is president of the
Council of State, and his brother, Raul Castro, is first vice president,
which places him first in the line of succession. Raul Castro is also
the Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
The Communist Party is constitutionally recognized as Cuba's only legal
political party. The party's Politburo and Central Committee together
include most of the country's military and civilian leaders. The party
monopolizes all government positions, including judicial offices.
Though not a formal requirement, party membership is a de facto
prerequisite for high-level official positions and professional
advancement in most areas, although non-party members are sometimes
allowed to serve in the National Assembly.
In 1992, the National Assembly amended the 1976 constitution, abolishing
references to the former Soviet bloc, outlawing discrimination for
religious beliefs, permitting foreign investment, giving Fidel Castro
new emergency powers, and allowing direct elections to the National
Assembly of candidates approved by "mass organizations" controlled by
the Communist Party.
Although the constitution grants limited rights of assembly and
association, these rights are subject to the requirement that they may
not be "exercised against ... the existence and objectives of the
socialist State." The government denies citizens the freedom of
association. The Penal Code specifically outlaws "illegal or
unrecognized groups." Cubans do not have the right to change their
government, to freedom of expression, or freedom to travel to and from
Cuba without restriction. The government and party control all
electronic and print media. Since 1992, the Cuban Government has eased
the harsher aspects of its repression of religious freedom. In
preparation for the visit of Pope John Paul II in January 1998, the
government further relaxed its restrictions on religion, especially
toward the Roman Catholic Church.
Although the constitution theoretically provides for independent courts,
it explicitly subordinates them to the National Assembly and to the
Council of State. The People's Supreme Court is the highest judicial
body. Due process is routinely denied to Cuban citizens, especially in
cases involving political offenses. The constitution states that all
legally recognized civil liberties can be denied to anyone who opposes
the "decision of the Cuban people to build socialism."
The Cuban Government's human rights record is abysmal. It
systematically violates fundamental civil and political rights of its
citizens. The government uses incessant harassment in the form of
detention, threat of long-term imprisonment, exile, physical injury, and
search and seizure of private property to intimidate pro-democracy and
human rights activists. There are hundreds of political prisoners.
Since 1994, when it invited the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to
visit, the Cuban Government has refused permission for international
human rights monitors, including the UN Special Rapporteur for Human
Rights, to visit Cuba.
Under Castro, Cuba became a highly militarized society. From 1975 until
the late 1980s, massive Soviet military assistance enabled Cuba to
upgrade its military capabilities and project power abroad. The tonnage
of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s
exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the
1962 missile crisis. In 1990, Cuba's air force, with about 150 Soviet-
supplied fighters, including advanced MiG-23 Floggers and MiG-29
Fulcrums, was probably the best equipped in Latin America. In 1994,
Cuba's armed forces were estimated to have 235,000 active duty
Cuban military power has been sharply reduced by the loss of Soviet
subsidies. Lack of fuel has resulted in reduced training and military
exercises. Lack of spare parts and new material has resulted in the
mothballing of planes, tanks, and other military equipment. Today, the
Revolutionary Armed Forces number about 60,000 regular troops. The
country's two paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops
and the Youth Labor Army, have a reduced training capability. Cuba also
adopted a "war of the people" strategy that highlights the defensive
nature of its capabilities. The government has, however, maintained a
large state security apparatus, under the Ministry of Interior, to
repress dissent within Cuba.
Principal Government Officials
President, Council of State and Council of Ministers, First Secretary of
the Communist Party, and Commander in Chief--Fidel Castro
First Vice President, Council of State and Council of Ministers, Second
Secretary of the Communist Party, General of the Army and Minister of
the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR)--Raul Castro
Minister of Foreign Relations--Roberto Robaina
Ambassador to the United Nations--Bruno Rodriguez
Under the slogan "Socialism or Death," the Cuban Government continues to
proclaim Cuba a socialist or communist nation with an economy organized
under Marxist-Leninist precepts. Most means of production are owned and
run by the government. About 75% of the labor force is employed
directly by the state.
Responsibility for running the economy and for economic policy rests
with the Council of State, although the government has devolved some
authority to ministries and enterprises in recent years.
Minimal public services are provided by the state, either free of charge
or for nominal fees. Access to education generally is adequate, but
urban housing and medical facilities have deteriorated, as has
In 1997, the Cuban Government created the Cuban Central Bank to play a
role in monetary policy similar to that of a central bank in a market
economy. The National Bank of Cuba continued as a commercial bank, and
the Cuban Government is creating additional commercial banks. Some
foreign banks have begun limited operations in Cuba.
The major sectors of the Cuban economy are tourism, nickel mining, and
agriculture, especially sugar and tobacco. Sugar, long the mainstay of
the Cuban economy, was surpassed by tourism in the late 1990s as the
main source of foreign exchange. Remittances from abroad, estimated at
$500 - 800 million annually, are a major source of income in Cuba, and
help sustain many families. An estimated 40% of the population have
access to dollars. The Cuban Government stopped producing its annual
statistical survey on the Cuban economy in 1990.
The Cuban Government defaulted on most of its international debt in
1986, and remains outside of international financial institutions such
as the World Bank. To finance imports, the government relies heavily on
short-term loans. Because of its poor credit rating, an $11 billion
hard currency debt, and the risks associated with Cuban investment,
interest rates have reportedly been as high as 22%.
The Cuban economy suffered a 35% decline in gross domestic product
between 1989 and 1993 because of the loss of Soviet subsidies. In
October 1990, Castro announced that Cuba had entered a "special period
in time of peace" and that the economy would function as if in time of
war until the crisis had passed. Most goods are now rationed, and many
previously imported from the Soviet Union simply have disappeared.
Economic growth resumed in the mid-1990s after the Cuban Government
launched a concerted program to attract foreign tourism and investment.
The Cuban Government estimated growth in 1997 at 2.5%. Estimated per
capita income in 1997 was $1,540. Living conditions in 1998 are well
below the 1990 level.
To deal with the severe shortages brought on by the end of Soviet
subsidies and the failure of socialist economic policies, the Cuban
Government in the mid-1990s permitted Cubans to offer certain services
privately under strict government regulation and scrutiny. It appears
that employment in this sector peaked in 1996 at around 206,000 and fell
in 1997 to about 170,000. In 1997, the Cuban Government introduced
heavy taxes on this sector which forced many out of business. In 1994,
the government introduced agricultural markets at which state and
private farmers could sell at market prices what they have produced
above the quota required by the state. This has helped to alleviate
grave food shortages and nutritional problems.
A popular example of this kind of venture has been small restaurants in
private homes, known as "paladares." These seek to serve international
visitors, but are subject to rules limiting employment of anyone outside
of the owner's immediate family and forbidding sales of lobster or
shrimp. Such rules are frequently violated, but restaurants and other
entities are often closed for minor infractions.
While continuing to limit private investment by Cuban citizens, the
Cuban Government is actively courting international investment. It has
attracted investment from Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Mexico,
Spain, France, and other countries. Foreign entities cannot own 100% of
the equity of an investment, and must include a Cuban Government entity
as a majority partner in the venture. Estimates of the amount of
international investment paid in vary widely, but it is thought to be
between $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion since 1990.
Cuban officials said early in 1998, there were a total of 332 joint
ventures. Many of these are loans or contracts for management, supplies
or services, normally not considered equity investment in Western
economies. Nevertheless, Cuban officials said in early 1998, that they
intend to be more selective in the investment they permit in Cuba.
Investors are constrained by the U.S. Cuban Liberty and Democratic
Solidarity Act (also known as the Libertad or Helms-Burton Act) which
provides for sanctions for those who "traffic" in property expropriated
from U.S. citizens. As of March 1998, 15 executives of three foreign
companies have been excluded from entry into the U.S. Over a dozen
companies had pulled out of Cuba or altered their plans to invest there
due to the threat of action under the Libertad Act.
Tourism, a top Cuban official said, is the "heart of the economy." The
Cuban Government is stressing its beaches and has actively encouraged
sex tourism to attract Europeans, Canadians, and Latin Americans. Cuban
officials expect 1.4 million tourists in 1998, an increase of 20% over
1997. The Cuban Government forecasts 1998 gross revenue from tourism as
In 1993, the Cuban Government made it legal for its people to possess
and use the U.S. dollar. Since then, the dollar has become the major
currency in use. Many businesses, including many run by the Cuban
Government, and individuals do not accept Cuban pesos.
Those with access to dollars can purchase imported goods at government-
run dollar stores that are not accessible to average Cubans with pesos
who must shop in understocked peso stores. Thus, those jobs that can
earn dollar tips from foreign tourists and business travelers have
become highly desirable. It is not uncommon to meet skilled doctors,
teachers, engineers, and scientists working in restaurants or as taxi
Sugar remains an important part of the Cuban economy, with large amounts
of land, labor, and other resources dedicated to its production. Sugar
production in 1989 was over 8 million tons, but fell to about 3.5
million tons in the 1994-1995 sugar harvest, one of the worst on record.
With increased fertilizers and management attention, the 1995-1996
harvest improved, according to official Cuban estimates, to about 4.4
million tons. Cuba was unable to sustain this level of output, however,
and the 1996-1997 harvest declined. The threat of U.S. actions against
those who finance the sugar harvest--where there are extensive numbers
of confiscated properties--had a major impact on the 1996-97 harvest.
Prospects for future harvests are considered poor unless the Cuban
Government undertakes substantial reform of the sugar industry,
something it has not been willing to do.
Cuba is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It
signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco, a Latin American regional non-
proliferation regime, but has not ratified the treaty and brought it
into force. Cuba has entered into an agreement with the IAEA to apply
safeguards to individual nuclear facilities, including the partially
completed Juragua nuclear power plant. The reactors that would be
installed are of the VVER-400 type, an advanced model of the Soviet
pressurized water reactor. There are serious concerns about the safety
of the plant. However, since the plant does not appear to be
economically viable, no international investors have been willing to
provide funds for completion of the facility.
Cuban failure to launch serious economic reforms has led to the
development of a large black market and growing corruption.
Cuba's once-ambitious foreign policy has been scaled back and redirected
as a result of economic hardship and the end of the Cold War.
Cuba aims to find new sources of trade, aid, and foreign investment, and
to promote opposition to U.S. policy, especially the trade embargo and
the 1996 Libertad Act. Cuba has relations with over 160 countries and
has civilian assistance workers--principally medical--in more than 20
Cuba has largely abandoned the support for guerrilla movements that
typified its involvement in regional politics in Latin America and
Africa. In 1959, Cuba aided armed expeditions against Panama, the
Dominican Republic, and Haiti. During the 1960s and 1970s , Guatemala,
Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Bolivia faced Cuban-backed guerrilla
insurgencies. Although these movements failed to take control of
governments, they inflicted heavy loss of life and economic damage in
each of the countries. Cuba's support for Latin guerrilla movements,
its Marxist-Leninist government, and its alignment with the U.S.S.R.,
contributed to its isolation in the hemisphere. In January 1962, the
Organization of American States (OAS) suspended Cuba. Cuba now has
diplomatic or commercial relations with most countries in Latin American
and the Caribbean.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Cuba expanded its military presence
abroad--deployments reached 50,000 troops in Angola, 24,000 in Ethiopia,
1,500 in Nicaragua, and hundreds more elsewhere. In Angola, Cuban
troops, supported logistically by the U.S.S.R., backed the Popular
Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in its effort to take power
after Portugal granted Angola its independence. Cuban forces played a
key role in Ethiopia's war against Somalia, and remained there in
substantial numbers as a garrison force for a decade. Cubans served in
a non-combat advisory role in Mozambique and the Congo. Cuba also used
the Congo as a logistical support center for Cuba's Angola mission.
In the late 1980s, Cuba began to pull back militarily. Cuba
unilaterally removed its forces from Ethiopia; met the timetable of the
1988 Angola-Namibia accords by completing the withdrawal of its forces
from Angola before July 1991; and ended military assistance to Nicaragua
following the Sandinistas' 1990 electoral defeat. In January 1992,
following the peace agreement in El Salvador, Castro stated that Cuban
support for insurgents was a thing of the past.
The United States recognized the new Cuban Government on January 7,
1959. However, bilateral relations deteriorated rapidly as the regime
expropriated U.S. properties and moved toward adoption of a one-party
Communist system. In response, the United States began imposing
economic sanctions in 1960, culminating with a comprehensive economic
embargo in 1962. The United States broke diplomatic relations on
January 3, 1961. Tensions between the two governments peaked during the
abortive "Bay of Pigs" invasion by anti-Castro Cubans supported by the
United States on April 7, 1961, and the October 1962 missile crisis.
In 1975, U.S.-Cuban normalization talks ended when Cuba launched a
large-scale intervention in Angola. However, the U.S. and Cuba
established interests sections in their respective capitals on September
1, 1977. Currently, the U.S. interests section in Havana and the Cuban
interests section in Washington, DC, are under the protection of the
The deployment of Cuban troops to Ethiopia and the discovery of Soviet
troops in Cuba in 1979 led President Carter to establish the Caribbean
Joint Task Force Headquarters in Florida and warned that Cuban troops
would not be allowed to move against neighboring countries.
In April 1980, 10,000 Cubans stormed the Peruvian embassy in Havana
seeking political asylum. Eventually, the Cuban Government allowed
125,000 Cubans to illegally take to boats to go to the United States
from the port of Mariel, or the "Mariel boatlift." Quiet efforts to
explore the prospects for improving relations were initiated by the
United States in 1981-82, but ceased as Cuba continued to intervene in
the Latin region. In 1983, the United States and regional allies
liberated Grenada, forcing the withdrawal of Cuban forces stationed
In 1984, the United States and Cuba negotiated an agreement to resume
normal immigration, interrupted in the wake of the 1980 Mariel boatlift,
and to return to Cuba persons who had arrived during the boatlift who
were "excludable" under U.S. law. Cuba suspended this agreement in May
1985 following the U.S. initiation of Radio Marti broadcasts to Cuba,
but it was reinstated in November 1987. In March 1990, TV Marti
transmissions began to Cuba. Since its inception, Cuba has jammed TV
Marti and blocked Radio Marti on the AM band. Radio Marti on short wave
has a large audience.
The principal U.S. concerns regarding Cuba are its undemocratic system
and lack of respect for human rights, and the potential danger of future
mass exoduses. The principal objective of U.S. policy toward Cuba is to
promote a peaceful transition to democracy and respect for human rights.
U.S. policy seeks to do this by maintaining pressure on the Cuban
Government; supporting the Cuban people; forging a multilateral effort
to press for democratic change; and keeping migration in safe, legal,
and orderly channels. President Bush set free and fair elections under
international supervision, respect for human rights, and an end to
efforts to subvert its neighbors as the conditions for improving
relations with Cuba. In October 1992, the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) was
enacted, codifying portions of the embargo and providing for measures in
support of the Cuban people and for improved telecommunications with
Cuba and sale of medicines. Other provisions ban most U.S. subsidiary
trade with Cuba and exclude any vessel which stops in Cuba from entering
U.S. ports for 180 days. It provides for humanitarian donations by U.S.
non-governmental organizations to Cuba. Since its enactment, more than
$2 billion worth of humanitarian assistance for Cuba has been licensed,
including $275 million in medical items. Since 1992, 50 licenses have
been issued for sale of medicines or travel to Cuba by representatives
of pharmaceutical companies. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) approved five U.S. carriers to provide direct telecommunications
service between the U.S. and Cuba.
In 1994, regular immigration talks were initiated between the United
States and Cuba, prompted by another mass exodus of Cubans that summer.
The two governments agreed in September 1994 to direct Cuban migration
into safe, legal, and orderly channels. The U.S. committed itself to
admit a minimum of 20,000 Cuban immigrants each year, and Cuba pledged
to discourage irregular and unsafe departures. Under a May 1995
agreement, the United States began returning Cubans interdicted at sea
or entering the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, and Cuba agreed to
reintegrate the returnees into Cuban society, with no action to be taken
against the returned migrants as a consequence of their attempt to
immigrate illegally. The U.S. Interests Section verifies Cuban
compliance with that provision through regular visits to the homes of
returnees throughout Cuba. Interdicted Cubans who can demonstrate a
well-founded fear of persecution in Cuba are resettled in third
countries, rather than returned to Cuba.
While the United States engaged in efforts to promote democratic change,
the development of an independent civil society, and support for the
Cuban people, in February 1996 the Cuban Government moved aggressively
against 140 groups of pro-democracy and human rights activists who were
seeking to hold a meeting under the auspices of their umbrella
organization "Concilio Cubano." The Cuban Government never responded to
Concilio's request to legally hold a meeting, and in mid-February began
an island-wide crackdown against dissidents--arresting, interrogating,
and harassing them. On February 24, 1996, the day the meeting was to be
held, the Cuban Government ordered the shootdown of two unarmed civilian
aircraft in international airspace. Three U.S. citizens and one legal
permanent resident, all members of the Miami-based exile organization
Brothers to the Rescue, were killed when their planes were shot down by
On February 26, 1996, President Clinton ordered five punitive measures
in response to the shootdown. He suspended direct charter flights to
Cuba; sought to obtain international condemnation of Cuba's actions;
committed to reach agreement with Congress on the pending Helms-Burton
legislation; announced that some form of justice was due to the families
of the victims and ordered that funds be transferred from the Cuban
Government's blocked accounts in the United States to the families; and
set restrictions on the movement of Cuban diplomats in the U.S.
On March 12, 1996, President Clinton signed into law the Cuban Liberty
and Democratic Solidarity Act (also known as the Libertad or Helms-
Burton Act). The Libertad Act has four main parts:
-- Title I codifies and tightens enforcement of the U.S. embargo;
-- Title II states U.S. policy toward a transition or democratic
government in Cuba;
-- Title III creates a cause of action and authorizes U.S. nationals
with claims to confiscated property in Cuba to file suit in U.S. courts
against persons "trafficking" in such property; and
-- Title IV requires the Executive Branch to deny visas to, and exclude
from the United States, foreign nationals determined to have confiscated
or "trafficked" in confiscated property, claimed by a U.S. national.
In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the President suspended
the Title III lawsuit provisions because he determined suspension to be
necessary and in the national interest and that it will expedite a
transition to democracy in Cuba.
On March 20, 1998, President Clinton announced measures intended to
respond to the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba in January
and to support the Cuban people. The measures include: resuming direct
humanitarian charter cargo and passenger flights to Cuba; reinstituting
legal remittances by Cuban Americans and Cuban families living in the
United States to their close relatives in Cuba at the level of $300 per
quarter (such remittances were suspended in August 1994 in response to
the migration crisis); simplifying and expediting the issuance of
licenses for the sale of medicines and medical supplies to Cuba. The
President also said he would work with Congress to develop bipartisan
legislation on the transfer of food and expansion of humanitarian
assistance to the Cuban people.
Support for the Cuban people has been a key element of U.S. policy
beginning with the CDA and strengthened by President Clinton's
initiatives in October 1995 to encourage groups in the U.S. to develop
contacts on the island. The 1995 initiatives included licensing U.S.
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to assist Cuban NGOs; allowing
sales and donations of communications equipment to Cuban NGOs;
establishing news bureaus; increasing academic, cultural, and
educational exchanges; and allowing under a general Treasury license
once-a-year visits to relatives in Cuba in cases of humanitarian
The measures announced March 20 enhance this policy of support for the
Cuban people. They support the religious opening, expand humanitarian
assistance, and assist development of independent civil society. The
measures are in response to the Cuban people, not to anything the Cuban
Government has done. Hundreds of political prisoners remain in Cuban
jails, including the four leaders of the Dissident Working Group. The
U.S. Government has repeatedly made clear, however, that it will
consider responding reciprocally if the Cuban Government initiates
fundamental democratic change.
Havana: U.S. Interests Section
Calzada between L and M, Vedado
(tel. (53) (7) 33-3551 through 33-3559).
Principal Officer--Michael Kozak
Deputy Principal Officer--John Boardman
Public Affairs Adviser--Douglas Barnes
Washington, DC: Cuban Interests Section
2630 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-797-8518).
Principal Officer--Fernando de Remirez
Deputy Principal Officer--Felix Wilson
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
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Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on
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obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity
documents or help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual basis by
the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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