For Cuba, end of sanctions not in sight as Bush starts 2nd term

THE BALTIMORE SUN

HAVANA - As George W. Bush begins his second term calling for an end to tyranny, Cuban officials are bracing for four more years of bruising economic sanctions from an American president they call "The Emperor."

"For more than 40 years, all we've gotten from the United States is hostility and aggression," said Miguel Alvarez, an official with the National Assembly, Cuba's lawmaking body. "U.S. officials don't believe that their victory in the Cold War will be complete without the fall of the Cuban government."

American efforts to topple Fidel Castro have cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the past decade. Last summer, the Bush administration enacted new measures aimed at crippling the Cuban economy. Whether they are working remains a matter of debate.

The Bush administration measures are designed to:

Prohibit Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island more than once every three years to visit brothers, sisters, children, parents or grandparents.

Reduce the money and gifts that Cuban-Americans can send to relatives in Cuba.

U.S. officials say the sanctions have proved effective and are expected to deprive the Cuban government of at least a half-billion dollars the first full year.

Cubans, meanwhile, are relying on creativity to get around the rules. Bernardo Alonzo Serafin, a cabdriver and mechanic, said his relatives send him money not from the United States but from Mexico, Spain and Canada.

"Some call it globalization," he said. "We call it survival."

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