Republican senators bowed to Democratic opposition Wednesday and dropped a bid to starve the Cuban economy by denying it hard currency. They received another setback when the administration authorized a visa to President Fidel Castro to travel to the United Nations.
After a Saturday arrival in New York, Castro is expected to speak Sunday at the United Nations’ 50th birthday celebration. Visas for foreign heads of government to travel to U.N. headquarters are routine although the State Department, not wishing to seem overeager, announced its approval nine days after the request was filed.
The announcement came shortly after Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., dropped a provision from Cuba sanctions legislation that was aimed at drying up foreign investment on the island.
Following the deletion, a watered-down Cuba sanctions bill remained, and final approval was expected today.
Cuba has been actively courting investment from Spain and other countries to reverse the nation’s economic decline, and Helms argued that Castro’s days would be numbered if his bill forced wouldbe investors to take their money elsewhere.
Castro’s visit will be only his second to the United Nations in 35 years.