Accessibility links

Bush Tightens Cuba Travel Ban - 2004-02-27

President Bush is tightening enforcement of the U.S. travel embargo on Cuba. He is making it tougher for unauthorized ships to enter Cuban territorial waters.

The president has signed an order giving the Department of Homeland Security enhanced powers to stop unauthorized ships from traveling through U.S. waters to Cuba.

Mr. Bush says officials may inspect any vessel thought to be destined for Cuban territorial waters. He says they may take appropriate action, including remaining on board, assuming control and removing the officers and crew.

The president says he is issuing the order because the Cuban government has taken a series of steps over the last year to destabilize relations with the United States. He says Cuban leader Fidel Castro has over the course of decades repeatedly used violence and the threat of violence to undermine U.S. interests.

His decision to expand enforcement of the U.S. travel embargo is sure to be welcomed by anti-Castro Cubans in the United States. Most live in the state of Florida, which is expected to play a big role in this year's presidential election.