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Friends Of A Democratic Cuba

"Friends of a Democratic Cuba" is a new group consisting of representatives from six former Soviet-bloc nations – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. They intend to use their experience with totalitarianism to help the Cuban people get uncensored information and promote democratic change in Cuba.

In a letter sent to the group, former Czech president Vaclav Havel writes that he hopes "our historical experience can inspire Cubans that are now trying to shake off the chains imposed by a totalitarian system." Mr. Havel writes that he is "convinced the best route is a nonviolent transition from dictatorship and repression towards freedom, parliamentary democracy, and the law."

Representatives from "Friends of a Democratic Cuba" were among those who attended a Transition to Democracy Summit held this month [October] in Miami, Florida. The summit brought together Cuban exiles in the U.S., along with officials and experts from the U.S., Latin America, and Central Europe. According to the organizers, the summit was planned before the Cuban government's announcement in August that Fidel Castro was ill and was temporarily turning power over to his brother, Raul Castro.

Carlos Gutierrez, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce who is also Cuban-American, attended the Miami summit. He says, "The Cuban people continue to hunger for freedom. With many of their pro-democracy leaders behind bars, it's the families of political prisoners who are taking up the cause of their loved ones and making it their own." Mr. Gutierrez says, "By highlighting the experiences of Central and Eastern Europe, we can help the Cuban people exchange ideas and accelerate democratic change."

Through its Compact With the Cuban People and its Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, the U.S. is providing humanitarian aid to Cubans. If asked, the U.S. will also help with preparations for multiparty elections once Cuba is free.

President George W. Bush says he "urge[s] the Cuban people to work for democratic change." Mr. Bush says, "History proves from Poland to South Africa, that patience and courage and resolve can eventually cause oppressive governments to fear and then to fall."

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