The "Crime" of Visiting Cuba

January 22, 2006

The Bush administration is imposing fines and other penalties on hundreds of U.S. citizens who have travelled to Cuba.

Within the last few months, the Treasury Department has issued subpoenas to more than 200 Americans who visited cuba last year on trips sponsored by the Pastors for Peace and the Venceremos Brigade. The subpoenas are a fist step in a process which can lead to more investigations, seizure of personal documents and fines as high as $65,000/person. These penalties are enforceable under the "Trading with the Enemy Act" which, under U.S. law, is applicable to the blockade of Cuba. In 2004, the Bush administration imposed $1.5 million in fines on 894 people who went to Cuba.

The Pastors of Peace (PFP) and the Venceremos Brigade have been sponsoring trips to Cuba for years as part of building people-to-people friendship. Since 1992, the PFP have organized yearly "friendshipments" to bring needed humanitarian aid to Cuba in defiance of the illegal U. S. government blockade. Last year, the friendshipment brought 140 tons of medical supplies, spare parts and other aid, although the Treasury Department initially confiscated 43 boxes of computer equipment.

The PFP has said that it will not be intimidated by the government's repression and will continue its work of protesting the blockade and building friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the U.S. and Cuba.