Clinton signs bill aimed at Cuba
Helms-Burton measure tightens sanctions
March 12, 1996
Web posted at: 12:40 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying it "will strengthen the embargo in a way that advances the cause of freedom in Cuba," President Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Bill into law on Tuesday, capping a bi-partisan effort to tighten sanctions against the communist island nation.
Congress passed the measure after the Cuban military shot down two U.S. civilian planes over the Straits of Florida on February 24, killing four members of the Cuban-American exile group, Brothers to the Rescue. Clinton dedicated the bill to their memory. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)
Relatives of the victims attended the brief signing ceremony at the White House, as did Cuban-American activists and the co-sponsors of the bill, Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina, and Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana.
"We will not tolerate attacks on United States citizens," Clinton said during the ceremony, "and we will stand with those both inside and outside Cuba who are working for a peaceful transition to freedom and democracy." (153K AIFF sound or 153K WAV sound)
The new law requires an act of Congress to lift any part of the U.S. embargo against Cuba; it requires mandatory denial of visas to individuals who use or profit from confiscated Cuban property; and it allows Cuban-born Americans to sue those who confiscated property in Cuba.
The government of Fidel Castro was quick to respond to the law, calling it "the latest in a long history of aggression, hostility and interference in the internal affairs of Cuba."
The statement, issued by the Cuban Interests Section in Havana, also read, "The hostility coming from the U.S. during the last 30 years has united the Cuban people and enhanced the capacity of resistance. This new situation will unite us even more. As in previous occasions, we will find ways to diminish the impact on the populations, maintain our economic plans and continue the development of the country."
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