US punishes Cuba by tightening embargo

PHIL DAVISON

Miami

Responding to Saturday's shooting down of two American light aircraft by Cuban MiG fighters, President Bill Clinton yesterday announced a tightening of the economic embargo against the Caribbean island, including a suspension of charter flights.

Most significantly, Mr Clinton said he would "move promptly to reach agreement with the [Republican-controlled] Congress" on the so-called Helms-Burton bill on Cuba, tough anti-Castro legislation he has so far strongly opposed. Aides said later, however, that Mr Clinton would insist on changes in the bill, notably on a clause that would impose sanctions on foreign (including British) companies that do business with Cuba.

At a White House news briefing, Mr Clinton did not mention military action but added "I am not ruling out any further steps should they be required". He declined to answer questions.

Although the President blasted the Castro regime as "repressive, violent and scornful of international law", many Cuban Americans immediately expressed disappointment, even outrage at the measures, saying they were largely meaningless and that he was "letting Castro get away with murder."

The President had taken token measures to avoid being outflanked by Republican presidential candidates but had returned to the situation of last year, when he eased restrictions against Cuba, they said.

Mr Clinton also said he would ask Congress to free frozen Cuban assets in the US to pay compensation to the families of four Cuban American pilots believed killed on Saturday. Cuban diplomats in the US would have further restrictions on their movements. Radio Marti, which broadcasts from Florida to Cuba, would be expanded.

The indefinite suspension of charter flights will be the most tangible measure. Cuban Americans had flocked to their homeland on daily flights from Miami in recent months, bringing money and medicine to relatives. Nevertheless, they will still be able to go via third countries.

Meanwhile, there were increasing indications that Havana had decided in advance to shoot down planes of the Brothers to the Rescue group if they approached the Cuban coast as they have been doing for several years looking for refugee boat people.

Diplomats in Havana said that would explain the fact that, while Havana control tower had warned the planes they were in a danger zone the two MiG fighters had not given the warnings demanded by international regulations before firing missiles at the planes.

Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's one-party assembly and a right- hand-man to Mr Castro, said in Havana that a pilot who had until recently worked with the Brothers to the Rescue group was now in Cuba. He did not explain the man's status.

In Miami, the group's leader, Jose Basulto, who was in a third Cessna aircraft on Saturday but escaped unharmed, said the man may be a former Cuban air force officer who had infiltrated the group.

Mr Alarcon's implication appeared to be that the man had provided information about the group which led Cuba to take a tougher line with Brothers to the Rescue pilots. A Cuban government statement described the group yesterday as a "terrorist mafia" which it said was plotting against Cuba.

Mr Alarcon said debris from the downed planes, including personal possessions of the pilots, had been found floating in Cuban waters. He defiantly avoided answering repeated foreign reporters' questions as to whether any of the Cuban American pilots had survived.

It appeared likely that the Cuban government would produce the man to back its claim that Brothers to the Rescue was not a humanitarian group but a politically motivated body of anti-Castro activists who deliberately provoked Saturday's incident. "This pilot knows a lot," said the Cuban statement. "Until a few hours ago, he was with the group of violators."

As the UN Security Council prepared yesterday to resume a special session, called by the US and broken off on Sunday, Cuba asked it to delay its deliberations until its Foreign Minister, Roberto Robaina, arrived in New York from a European trip.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

Application Support Analyst / Junior SQL Server DBA

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...

Commercial Litigation

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...

BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried