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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
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November, 2008


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Bush Vows To Maintain Embargo on "Dungeon" Cuba
By David Alexander

Oct. 10, 2008: U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday called Cuba a "dungeon" and vowed Washington would not lift its economic embargo until Havana released political prisoners and allowed free expression.
Speaking to Cuban-Americans on the anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spain in 1868, Bush said his administration offered aid to Havana after the island was hit by devastating hurricanes this year, but the communist government led by President Raul Castro refused.

"That aid was rejected by the Castros, which should tell the people of Cuba and the people around the world that the Castro people are only interested in themselves and their power and not for the benefit and welfare of the Cuban people," Bush told the small group at a Cuban restaurant, Havana Harry's, in a Miami suburb.

"It's so sad that right off the shores of our great nation that believes in human rights and human dignity exists this, this dungeon," Bush said. "But some day Cuba will be free."

Cuba and the United States have been at odds since a 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power, and the United States has maintained a trade embargo against Cuba for 46 years. The ailing Castro was formally succeeded by his brother Raul Castro as president in February.

Cuba has declined three offers of U.S. aid so far, although the U.S. Agency for International Development said $2 million of aid had been distributed to humanitarian organizations working there. Havana accused Washington in September of lying about its aid to try to make it look like it was helping the island.

Washington made a fourth offer of $6.3 million in aid -- emergency shelters and household kits -- after Cuba appealed for construction materials. No response has been received yet, according to a U.S. official.

Bush said his administration had worked closely with Cuban-Americans "with one goal in mind, and that is the freedom of Cuba."

"The policies we have in place are all aimed at giving the people in Cuba a chance to worship freely and to speak freely and to go in the public square and express themselves without fear of repression," Bush said.

He said the United States would lift its economic embargo against Cuba "only when the government of Cuba lets the people of Cuba express themselves freely."

"We will change our policy when the people running Cuba free people of conscience from the prisons. But until then, we won't change," he said.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has backed loosening some parts of the embargo. His Republican opponent, John McCain, supports keeping the embargo until free elections are held in Cuba.

Copyright (c) 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.



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