Cuban bishops worried by US measures to tighten embargo

.- The Bishops Conference of Cuba issued a statement this week expressing their concern about recent measures the US said it would take to tighten the embargo against the island.  They also said decried the prices hikes the Cuban government said it will implement in response.

This month President George Bush was presented a package of measures designed to intensify economic sanctions against Cuba in order to speed up political transition in the country.  They include limiting how often Cuban-Americans can visit relatives, decreasing how much they can spend while here, prohibiting money transfers to Cuban officials and Communist Party members, and strengthening investigations into those who do business with Cuba.

Havana organized a march in protest and raised prices an average 15 percent on gasoline and nearly all goods sold in dollars.

The bishops said, "It hurts us to see that the measures announced by the United States and those taken by the Cuban government affect, directly or indirectly, the poorest families of our nation."

“We reiterate our rejection of the economic sanctions which in the Unites States are known as the embargo and in Cuba as the blockade,” the bishops said, recalling that “Cuban families, which are the place for reconciliation and dialogue in the midst of our reality, are especially endangered, since new hardships and deprivations are being added to the difficulties and burdens which are already known to all and the separation between those who live in Cuba and those who live in the US is being aggravated.”

“This is happening,” they add, “at a moment when peace, dialogue, reconciliation, unity and hope are needed to revitalize the institution of the family and place its well being above political and ideological prejudices.”

Likewise, the bishops underscore that they consider it “unacceptable that the future of Cuba be designed on the basis of exclusions, and even more so on the basis of interventions conceived of by a foreign government.  We are not talking about separating ourselves from the international community, whose friendship and closeness we appreciate, but rather about anything that might foster a climate of unrest and division that undermine the efforts for reconciliation needed by all Cubans.”

Lastly, the document reiterates, “The solution to the situation in which the Cuban nation finds itself should come through a process of dialogue of reconciliation and searching among Cubans.”

 “Urged on by the love of Christ, who forgives, trusts, hopes and always endures, committed as pastors to the present and the future of the Cuban people, we exhort those who are involved, or attempt to get involved, in the future of Cuba, both inside and outside the country, be they Christians or not, to show their good will through respectful dialogue alone and the application of measures that guarantee reconciliation and peace among Cubans,” the text concludes.

Dated May 26, the statement was signed by the Executive Committee of the Cuban Bishops Conference, lead by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana.

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