The Associated Press
Posted July 28 2005, 5:03 PM EDT
WASHINGTON—Caleb McCarry, a veteran congressional staff expert on Latin America, was appointed Thursday to a new State Department post aimed at preparing for a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba.
``It is the responsibility of the civilized world to act to see that the Cuban family is reunited under political and economic freedom,’’ McCarry said at a State Department ceremony after being introduced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
McCarry has served for eight years on the House International Relations Committee’s Republican staff, frequently discussing policy issues with Latin America leaders in telephone conversations.
His appointment is one of two key personnel changes in the State Department’s Western Hemisphere bureau. Roger Noriega, head of the bureau, is expected to leave the State Department soon and be replaced by Thomas Shannon, a career diplomat and Latin America expert at the National Security Council. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised the appointment.
``As the home for the largest number of Cubans and Cuban-Americans in the United States, Florida has an interest in ensuring Cuba has a prompt end to despotism and a successful transition to democracy,’’ Bush said in a press release.
In Miami, the Cuban American National Foundation, which speaks for many of the community’s more fervent exiles, also lauded the appointment, saying McCarry has ``a sense of personal commitment to the cause of freedom for the Cuban people.’‘
The post of ``transition coordinator’’ that is being filled by McCarry grew out of a 2004 report on Cuba prepared by a commission headed by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.
The report outlined the steps that the United States was prepared to take to assist a democratic Cuba and to bring pressure to bear on Fidel Castro’s government in the meantime.
The report said the United States should try to subvert the planned succession in Cuba under which power would pass from President Castro to his younger brother, Raul.
Castro, who turns 79 in two weeks, has confidently predicted that the one-party socialist state he has built will exist long after he passes from the scene.
He dismisses the U.S. notion that Cuba needs a transition to a new system, contending the island already has undergone a transition, the one he oversaw beginning in 1959.
In introducing McCarry, Rice described some of the ways the United States is putting pressure on Castro’s government.
``We are working to deny resources to the Castro regime to break its blockade on information and to broadcast the truth about its deplorable treatment of the Cuban people,’’ Rice said.
For nearly 50 years, she said, ``The regime of Fidel Castro has condemned the people of Cuba to a tragic fate of repression and poverty.’’