Keeping the hard-line on Cuba sanctions

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: The U.S. is focusing most of its attention on North Korea right now, but it hasn't forgotten about Cuba and the decades-old sanctions against that country. The Bush Administration has formed a law enforcement group based in Miami. From the Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: The new task force will smoke out people doing business or traveling to Cuba in violation of the 44-year embargo.

Individuals face fines of $250,000 and 10 years in prison. Corporate fines can reach a million bucks.

Cuba expert Dan Erikson is with Inter American Dialogue, a Washington DC think tank.

He says the US is trying to send a message with this task force.

DAN ERIKSON: Even though there's a process of political change taking place there with the fading of Fidel Castro, the US government is going to play it very, very tough until the very bitter end.

Everyone agrees the embargo hasn't worked. So why keep beating a dead horse?

ERIKSON: Because it shows: 'Hey look, we may be succeeding in enacting political change in Cuba, but at least we're trying.'"

That's a message that will be popular with hard-line Cuban exiles in South Florida. They're an important Republican voting block in November's elections.

In Miami, I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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