Cuban newspapers have published photos of Fidel Castro. They reportedly are the first pictures taken of the Cuban dictator since he underwent intestinal surgery and temporarily turned power over to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro. Fidel Castro's health remains a matter of speculation.
Thomas Shannon is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He says Cuba is on the verge of political change: "I think it’s important to underscore that where we are in our policy, at this point, is really consistent with what we’ve been doing all along, which is pushing for a transition to democracy and trying to create a political space within Cuba where Cubans can actually begin to have a dialogue among themselves about their future. And in that regard, while we might be at a moment of great change, we might also be at a moment of, actually, the regime hardening as it attempts to assert its control. Therefore. . . .policy consistency in this environment is very important."
Mr. Shannon says the U.S. does not know how serious Fidel Castro's condition is and, "we don't know what the level of recovery is, and. . . .we're really not in a position to predict what will happen in the subsequent days in Cuba":
"There is not an over-arching figure, such as a Lech Walesa in Cuba, at this point but there are a series of very courageous, very articulate individuals, who have worked hard to build democratic civil society and dissident movements. And what we believe the international community should be working towards is creating an environment that allows these groups to begin to communicate with each other and then communicate more broadly with the Cuban people."
The U.S. supports Cubans who want peaceful democratic change by providing uncensored information through radio, television, and the Internet. The U.S. is also working to maintain economic pressure on the Cuban Communist regime and limit its ability to sustain itself and repress the Cuban people.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. "encourage[s] the Cuban people to work at home for positive change." The U.S., she says, stands ready to assist Cubans as they, "begin to chart a new course for [their] country."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.