Int'l Action Center Press Release following Bush's Press Conferences on May 20 about U.S.-Cuba relations

Hypocritical Bush Address on Cuba Amounts to Illegal Interference on Cuba's Sovereignty

May 20, 2002

Contact: Gloria La Riva, Keith Pavlik (415) 821-6545

George Bush, who spent $1 billion on his election campaign, calls for "free and fair elections" ... in Florida? No, Cuba.

George Bush, who presided over the execution of more people than any other person in the U.S. calls for rights for political prisoners ... in Texas? No, Cuba.

George Bush, who lost the 2000 election by 500,000 votes and had ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices step in to deny a re-count, calls for fair elections in 2003 Florida? No, Cuba.

In response to President George W. Bush's address on Cuba today, the International Action Center characterized his proposals as an illegal interference in the sovereignty of Cuba.

"The whole world has to be sitting back and laughing at George Bush's pompous championing of democracy in Cuba as hypocritical," said a statement issued by the International Action Center, based in New York, San Francisco and cities across the United States. The IAC advocates a complete and unconditional lifting of the U.S. blockade. The group says the sanctions have caused untold hardship to the Cuban people.

"George Bush and the U.S. government have no right to lecture any other country on the issue of democracy," said Gloria La Riva, IAC leader and coordinator of a national campaign to free five Cuban political prisoners held by the U.S. in federal prison.

"From day one of his selection -- not election -- as president, to the present time, Bush's administration has been filled with the greatest violations of human rights in the world. The bombing of civilians in Afghanistan, support of the right-wing coup in Venezuela, and threats to bomb Iraq, expose his demand for democracy in Cuba as sheer hypocrisy.

"This latest policy statement on Cuba points to unprecedented arrogance that flies in the face of Cubašs reality."

La Riva, who has traveled extensively in Cuba, said, "The U.S. government has maintained an inhumane blockade with the sole purpose of trying to overthrow the Cuban social system and once again impose its will over Cuba.

"The Cuban people are highly educated, they enjoy direct elections through secret ballot from the local to the national level. Their healthcare system is one of the most envied in the world. The most fundamental human rights, of housing, education, healthcare and social peace, are guaranteed to every Cuban citizen. If the U.S. were to have its way in Cuba, all the social achievements would be overturned by a U.S.-approved regime."

The IAC, which has organized medical-aid campaigns and student delegations to defy the blockade, also called on Bush to free the Cuban political prisoners who are currently in five U.S. federal prisons. The prisoners, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labaņino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, and Antonio Guerrero, who were falsely convicted of espionage on the U.S., were simply monitoring Miami right-wing extremist groups to prevent more terrorist acts against the Cuban population.

They were convicted in December 2001 and given sentences of 15 years to two life terms in federal court. Their appeals are expected to be heard in the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by end of this year.  

IAC activist speaks to over 1 million at May Day rally in Havana

Gloria La Riva, a West Coast activist in the International Action Center and coordinator of the "National Committee to Free the Five Cuban Political Prisoners Held in the United States" spoke at the massive May Day rally in Havana, Cuba to 1.2 million people, along with three other foreign guests from Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina.

Cuban President Fidel Castro gave a major address denouncing the anti- Cuba vote by certain Latin American leaders in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva on April 18.


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