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Enforcing The Ban
Thursday, January 12, 2006   By: Juan Paxety

Pastors and Venceremos fined

The Bush administration and the Treasury Department are enforcing the restrictions on travel to Cuba - particularly against two long-time supporters of fidel's policies - Pastors for Peace and Venceremos Brigade. The Miami Herald reports:

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Treasury branch that enforces U.S. sanctions against Cuba, has sent letters to about 200 travelers from the groups asking them to provide information on their latest trips. The letters are the first step in a process that could lead to fines of about $7,500 per traveler.

Pastors for Peace has been organizing caravans of vehicles carrying aid from the United States to Mexico then on to Cuba since 1992, and members have received OFAC letters in the past, said spokeswoman Lucia Bruno. But this is the first time OFAC has sent out so many letters, she said, suggesting a more aggressive enforcement attempt.

''This time it's different in that virtually everyone in the last caravan received the letter. Before it was sort of here and there,'' she said.

The Pastors raised a big stink this past summer when they were prohibited from taking 43 boxes of computers to Cuba. Computers are on the list of contraband since computers can be used for spying and other military purposes. The Pastors talked about the need for computers in Cuba, but failed to point out that it's almost impossible for a private person to own a computer in Cuba - due to fidel's regulations.

In 2004, the US collected almost two-million dollars in fines from 884 people who traveled to Cuba illegally.


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