"The President intends to emphasize the importance of democracy for the Cuban people and the role the international community can play in Cuba's transition, by insisting on free speech, free assembly, free and competitive elections, and the release of all political prisoners," Fratto said.
Great! The international community! Now I feel better. That would be the same international community that sat there with arms crossed while hundreds of thousands were being slaughtered in Rwanda and are repeating their good deeds as we speak in Darfur.
The administration has been “insisting” on democracy for Cuba since the Cuban-American vote delivered Florida’s electoral votes to President Bush in the contested 2000 election and has stepped up its rhetoric since Fidel Castro guts exploded way back in July of 2006. At that time the US “insisted” that it would not accept a transition from one dictator (Fidel) to another (Raul), yet there’s Raul promising everyone a glass of milk and presiding over “elections”… pfft.
Other than talking a good game, the Bush administration’s one real tangible move was to tighten travel and remittance restrictions from the US to Cuba driving a wedge into an exile community once seemingly monolithic in its opposition to Cuba’s communist regime. A move that may have a heavy political price come this election cycle for the GOP.
The other action from the Bush administration that also stands out vis a vis Cuba, is its insistence on zealously enforcing the wet foot/dry foot policy-to the point of shooting at escapees. It has also used the “mass exodus” bogeyman to show its border control muscle- showing the anti immigrant (Hispanic) crowd that it can protect them from hoards of invading Cuban refugees- err I mean migrants- with operations like Vigilant Sentry and the building of tent cities in Guantanamo Bay.
So lets see what words of wisdom Dubya has for us on Wednesday. I’m not too optimistic.
The new initiatives are reported to be:
1) As already mentioned encouraging the international community to seek a transition to democracy-perhaps with some incentive$, and
2) More aid to dissidents inside Cuba - authorized by Helms-Burton.