WASHINGTON (July 27, 2004) -– Recent restrictions on travel from the United States to Cuba "will serve only to exacerbate the situation" in Cuba, according to the chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops International Policy Committee, who urged Congress to revisit the issue.
"We believe the goals of improving the lot of the Cuban people and encouraging the democratization of the governance of Cuba are best accomplished through more rather than less contact between the Cuban and American peoples," said Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
Earlier this year, the Bush Administration announced more stringent restrictions on the amount of baggage licensed travelers to Cuba may carry and on the types of items that can be sent in gift parcels to Cuba.
Bishop Ricard thanked members of the U.S. House of Representatives for their support of an amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to the Commerce, Justice, State appropriations bill which would bar the Commerce Department from enforcing the new restrictions.
"The Flake amendment addresses a small part of the larger structure of travel limitations, sanctions and the embargo imposed by the U.S. government against Cuba," said Bishop Ricard. "We encourage you to revisit the more significant Treasury Department's Cuba travel regulations later this year with a view toward softening their unnecessarily restrictive aspects."