Posted on Tue, Mar. 28, 2006
No shift in view on sanctions, Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart says
BY PABLO BACHELET
Under fire from some Cuban exile quarters, Miami Republican Rep. Lincoln
Díaz-Balart is saying that he never proposed ''unilateral'' changes in
the Helms-Burton law that regulates the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
Díaz-Balart told The Miami Herald in a recent interview that while he
supports the law, he would favor lifting some of the sanctions if Havana
freed all political prisoners, legalized opposition parties and promised
free elections -- regardless of who rules Cuba.
The Miami Herald stands by its story, and Díaz-Balart has not requested
a correction or clarification.
But the comments by the Cuban-American lawmaker, long known for his
hard-line opposition to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, raised concerns among
some Cuban exiles that they might signal a change in U.S. policy toward
the communist-ruled island.
Jorge Mas, chairman of the Miami-based Cuban American National
Foundation, Monday sent President Bush a letter asking if the
administration had changed its position on Helms-Burton.
The letter criticized Díaz-Balart's statements, saying CANF members ''do
not consider it beneficial to alter or suggest altering Helms-Burton now
or at any time in the future.'' It added that the Castro brothers should
leave Cuba if they are serious about a transition to democracy.
Díaz-Balart issued a statement Monday saying that his views on
Helms-Burton had been misrepresented, restating his key conditions and
saying that CANF could have saved itself the time by telephoning him for