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10/18/03 - CUBA WILL SOON BE FREE - 2003-10-17


The United States has tried repeatedly to improve relations with Cuba’s Communist dictator Fidel Castro. The U.S. has offered to ease trade and travel restrictions if the Cuban government enacted political and economic reforms. But as President George W. Bush said, Castro has responded to these offers with “a new round of oppression that outraged the world's conscience."

The April imprisonment of seventy-five pro-democracy dissidents, said Mr. Bush, demonstrates that Castro is not interested in reform:

“Elections in Cuba are still a sham. Opposition groups still organize and meet at their own peril. Private economic activity is still strangled. Non-government trade unions are still oppressed and suppressed. Property rights are still ignored. And most goods and services produced in Cuba are still reserved for the political elites. Clearly, the Castro regime will not change by its own choice. But Cuba must change.”

To help Cubans bring about that change, the U.S. will establish a Commission for the Assistance to a Free Cuba. The commission’s mandate, says Mr. Bush, will be to “plan for the happy day when Castro's regime is no more -- and democracy comes to the island."

In the meantime, the U.S. will allow more Cubans to emigrate legally to the U.S. The U.S. will continue to build an international coalition to advance the cause of Cuban freedom. And it will expand efforts to bring accurate news and information to the Cuban people.

As President Bush said, Cuba’s proud history of fighting for liberty will go on:

“Today, the struggle for freedom continues in cities and towns of that beautiful island, in Castro's prisons, and in the heart of every Cuban patriot. . . . In all that lies ahead, the Cuban people have a constant friend in the United States of America. No tyrant can stand forever against the power of liberty, because the hope of freedom is found in every heart. So today we are confident that no matter what the dictator intends or plans, Cuba sera pronto libre.”

“Cuba sera pronto libre.” Cuba will soon be free.

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