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Shannon On Cuba

Raul Castro made his first public statement since taking power while his brother, eighty-year-old Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, reportedly recovers from intestinal surgery.

Raul Castro said he has mobilized the Cuban army in anticipation of a U.S. invasion. This is, of course, the usual propagandistic nonsense that is dished out from time to time by the Cuban government. Tom Shannon is U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He says the United States believes that "what we are seeing in Cuba today is effectively a slow-motion transfer of power":

"That Fidel Castro, given his age and given the kind of health crisis he went through, does not appear, at least, to be in a position to return to the day-to-day management of affairs that he had effectively enjoyed for so many decades."

Mr. Shannon says that "the institutions of the Cuban state are in a process. . . .of negotiation as they attempt to determine what the power-sharing arrangements will be." But now is the time, says Mr. Shannon, "to allow a national dialogue among the Cuban people so that those people may indeed determine what their own future is":

"Political openings and democratizations can take a variety of forms. And we would be very interested in hearing from the Cubans themselves about how they envision that happening."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "it has long been the hope of the United States that a free, independent, and democratic Cuba would be more than just a close neighbor – it would be a close friend." Ms. Rice says, "this is our goal, now more than ever."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.