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5/30/03 - BROADCASTING TRUTH TO CUBA - 2003-05-30

Over forty-four years ago, Cuba's Communist dictator Fidel Castro hijacked Cuban independence. Since then, he has built a legacy of political repression and economic ruin.

President George W. Bush recently met with a group of Cuban pro-democracy advocates now living in the U.S. They gave detailed accounts of their suffering. Ana Lazaro Rodriguez spent nineteen years in Cuban jails and wrote a book about the treatment of women political prisoners in Cuba. She says a pattern of brutality has existed in Cuba for decades:

"I came to explain to the president [Bush] that what is important is not that I have spent so many years in a political prison, that we have been beaten, confined in isolation for one year, two years sometimes. But what is important is that those things continue happening in Cuba. And that the world must stop that."

United States policy is to support Cubans interested in promoting a rapid and peaceful democratic transition in Cuba. That focus includes working to break Castro's information blockade against the people of Cuba.

In an effort to provide Cubans with accurate and balanced news and information, the U.S. created Radio Marti in 1985 and TV Marti in 1990. Massive jamming by the Castro regime has made it difficult for most Cubans to watch TV Marti. But on Cuban Independence Day, special efforts were made to overcome the jamming. TV Marti’s four-hour program was transmitted from a U.S. plane flying over U.S. airspace. In the near future, TV Marti programs will be transmitted by satellite. Radio Marti's broadcast signal will also be strengthened.

"Dictatorships have no place in the Americas," said President Bush on Cuban Independence Day. "May God bless the Cuban people who are struggling for freedom."