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Castro Lauds House Vote

Cuba: 'We shall always be grateful' for the move to ease sanctions, communist leader says.

July 27, 2002|From Associated Press

CIEGO DE AVILA, Cuba — Proclaiming that friends can be found even among his country's worst enemies, President Fidel Castro thanked U.S. representatives who voted this week to ease sanctions against the communist-ruled island.

Speaking at a rally Friday to mark the start of the Cuban revolution 49 years ago, the Cuban leader said the House vote passing the measure was a gesture of such significance that it doesn't matter if President Bush vetoes the move, as threatened.

"Nor does it matter if new ruses and provocations are invented to annul them," Castro said in his annual address, attended by tens of thousands of people.

"I would like to express our people's gratitude to both the Democratic and Republican legislators who on that day acted intelligently and strongly, following their own beliefs," Castro told the crowd gathered in this central provincial capital.

"We shall always be grateful for that gesture."

The House voted Tuesday to lift long-standing restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The House also voted to remove hurdles on the sale of food and medicine to Cuba and lift the caps on money that Cuban Americans can send to relatives in Cuba.

The measures have not been passed by the Senate.

The White House said this week that the president would be urged to veto the spending bill containing the provisions if it included an end to the travel ban.

Castro also referred to the strong support many Americans expressed for the return of Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba during a seven-month international custody battle that ended in June 2000.

Elian and his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, were among the guests at the ceremony.

Earlier in his speech, Castro painted an apocalyptic vision of what he called impending financial disaster caused by global capitalism.

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