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HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

President Bush announces Freedom Fund for Cuba

Posted October 23, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By GINGER THOMPSON | New York Times

President Bush is planning to issue a stern warning Wednesday that the United States will not accept a political transition in Cuba in which power changes from one Castro brother to another, rather than to the Cuban people.

As described by an official in a background briefing to reporters on Tuesday evening, Mr. Bush’s remarks will amount to the most detailed response — mainly an unbending one — to the political changes that began in Cuba more than a year ago, when Fidel Castro fell ill and handed power to his brother Raúl.

The speech, scheduled to be given at the State Department before invited Cuban dissidents, will introduce the relatives of four Cuban prisoners being held for political crimes. The relatives, who fled Cuba years ago for the United States, will attend the gathering. A senior administration official said the president wanted to “put a human face,” on Cuba’s “assault on freedom.”

In effect, the speech will be a call for Cubans to continue to resist, a particularly strong line coming from an American president. He is expected to say to the Cuban military and police, “There is a place for you in a new Cuba.”

The official said Mr. Bush would make the case that for dissidents and others pursuing democracy in Cuba, little has changed at all, and that the country has suffered economically as well as in other ways as a result of the Castro rule.

He will say that while much of the rest of Latin America has moved from dictatorship to democracy, Cuba continues to use repression and terror to control its people. And, the administration official said, Mr. Bush will direct another part of his speech to the Cuban people, telling them they “have the power to shape their destiny and bring about change.”

The administration official said Mr. Bush was expected to tell Cuban viewers that “soon they will have to make a choice between freedom and the force used by a dying regime.”

Some of the sharpest parts of the speech, however, will be aimed directly at Raúl Castro. Mr. Bush is expected to make clear that the United States will oppose an old system controlled by new faces. The senior administration official said that nothing in Raúl Castro’s past gives Washington reason to expect democratic reforms soon. And he said the United States would uphold its tough economic policies against the island.

However, he held out the possibility of incentives for change, including expanding cultural and information exchanges with Cuba, if Cuba demonstrated an openness to such exchanges.

The administration official gave no reason for the timing of Mr. Bush’s speech. However, he did say that another important constituency was the international community, particularly those countries whose trade with Cuba undermined the impact of the United States embargo. In recent months, Raúl Castro has made an open play for more business, suggesting his government is prepared to carry out reforms aimed at opening Cuba’s economy to further foreign investment.

Mr. Bush will urge countries to stand with the United States and stop trade with Cuba. He will call on the international community to work with the United States on the establishment of a “Freedom Fund for Cuba,” to be used for infrastructure and other projects once a democratic transition begins.

“The president will make the point that life will not improve for Cubans under the current system,” the senior administration official said. “It will not improve by exchanging one dictator over another, and it will not improve in any way by seeking accommodation with a new tyranny for the sake of stability.”

Read the other story from the Associated PressBush to Tout Cuban Life After Castro

Member Comments

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On October 24, 2007, Myron Dittmer wrote:

The people of Cuba deserve to live their lives in total freedom from the oppressive Castro brothers!

A free Cuba should be the goal of the USA!

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On October 25, 2007, cubanpete wrote:

A free Cuba will need a new Marshall Plan.

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On October 25, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

A free Cuba means living in sovereignty without U.S. intervention, embargoes or sanctions.

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On October 25, 2007, publisher wrote:

I agree but your word “free” in front of Cuba is not true today and we all want Cubans to be free.

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On October 26, 2007, MiamiCuban wrote:

You can probably ask 100 different people what being “free” means to them, and you’ll probably end up with 100 different answers.  Why are Americans so insistent on forcing others to adopt their own interpretation of “freedom?”  That’s not freedom; that’s tyranny of a different sort.

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On October 27, 2007, J. Perez wrote:

The hipocrisy of these statements is astounding, did we not aid and support regimes far worse in Haiti, El Salvador, Chile and Guatemala just to name a few?

Let’s get real, Fidel and Raul & co. have to loosen up, yes, but this country has to stop telling other countries what to do and how to govern because its record and the history of their choices is not good at all.