I am strongly committed to actions that will bring rapid, peaceful, democratic change to Cuba. My administration has pursued an effective policy of economic and political isolation of the Castro regime. We urge all democratic governments to join us. No nation should help bankroll this dictatorship. Aid to the Castro regime will prolong Castro's hold on Cuba and prolong the misery and suffering of the Cuban people.
Today we are closer than ever to our goal of returning freedom to Cuba. The Russian Government has announced that economic relations with Cuba will be on a hard currency basis. Also, Russia is withdrawing the former Soviet brigade and announced that as of January 1, 1992, it was ending all subsidies to Cuba. Castro is on his own. Cuba has lost a source of economic and military aid that has totaled as much as billion annually in some years. Cuban trade with the new Independent States amounts to a mere fraction of its trade with the former Soviet Union.
For the first time, the Russian Republic voted with countries from Latin America, Africa, and Asia to condemn Cuba's human rights abuses at the United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva. Our Latin American allies rejected Cuban requests to purchase oil at less than fair market prices and have called for a democratic opening in Cuba. My administration will support free trade arrangements that benefit our sister democracies but will not accept loopholes that aid the Castro regime. The benefits of these agreements are for governments committed to freedom and democracy.
The ``Cuban Democracy Act of 1992'' seeks to build on the strong prodemocracy policy of my administration. I applaud such efforts and endorse the objectives of this legislation to isolate Cuba until democratic change comes to that embattled island.
I believe in and I am committed to work with the Congress this session to pass a stronger, more effective ``Cuban Democracy Act,'' which tightens the embargo and closes any unintentional loopholes that could benefit the Castro regime while preserving the proper constitutional prerogatives of the Congress and the President.
However, as currently written, the ``Cuban Democracy Act'' could, without intending to do so, weaken the embargo. It could result in the transfer of millions of dollars to the Castro regime from earnings on telecommunication services between the United States and Cuba. Current regulations allow balanced and even improved phone services but restrict hard currency transfers to Cuba.
Additionally, we should continue to license donations of food and medicines to nongovernmental organizations in Cuba for the benefit of the Cuban people. But we cannot permit either the sale of medicines or the donation of food to the Castro regime itself. To do so, as the bill proposes, could directly aid the security forces of the Castro dictatorship and could contribute to the building of a biotechnology industry.
Finally, consistent with my proposal of 3 years ago, the legislation should strengthen the provision providing for civil penalty authority for the Department of the Treasury as a weapon against embargo violators.
With the appropriate changes, I expect to be able to sign this legislation. I intend to work with the Congress to pass a strong ``Cuban Democracy Act'' this year.
In this spirit, I am today instructing the Treasury Department to restrict further shipping to Cuba by issuing regulations that will prohibit entry into U.S. ports of vessels that are engaged in trade with Cuba. Additionally, I am instructing Treasury to begin the process of issuing licenses to permit shipment of humanitarian package mail on the Miami/Havana air charter services. This measure will further limit Cuba's hard currency earnings.
My administration will continue to press governments around the world on the need to isolate economically the Castro regime. Together we will bring to Cuba a new era of freedom and democracy.