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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs > Releases > Excerpts from Daily Press Briefings > 2006 > July-September 2006
Daily Press Briefing
Tom Casey, Acting Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 18, 2006

Daily Press Briefing Transcript (Cuba)



U.S. Response to Recent Comments by Raul Castro / Dynastic Succession is Unacceptable
Situation in Cuba Continues to be Grave Concern
U.S. Plan is Aimed at Assisting the Cuban People in a Transition to Democracy when they Cubans Ask for It
No News on Fidel Castro's Health
Ability of Cuban People to Choose Their Leaders is Long Overdue


Excerpts from the Daily Press Briefing of August 18, 2006, pertaining to Western Hemisphere Affairs. full briefing

QUESTION: Can you give us a reaction to the statements that were published in the Communist Party newspaper Gramma this morning by Raul Castro in which he said that he had mobilized Cuba's armed forces expecting a possible invasion from the U.S. and couldn't risk someone in the Bush Administration going crazy or even crazier, I think were his words, and also the criticism that he leveled against the U.S. plan for a post-Castro Cuba?

MR. CASEY: Well, gee, I guess you're asking me what we think of remarks by Fidel's baby brother. What do we think of them? I guess not much is the answer. You know, we're not particularly fond, as you know, of the Government of Cuba as run by Fidel. I can't say that we're particularly enamored of the first words we've heard from Fidel Lite.

The situation in Cuba is definitely one that continues to be of grave concern for us. The plan that's been put forward -- and you've heard from Caleb McCarry, our Special Coordinator for Cuban Policy, as well as from Tom Shannon and others in recent days about this. The plan that we've put forward is designed to assist the Cuban people as they move through a transition to a democratic government. It's our firm hope that that transition comes sooner rather than later. But as we've made clear, that plan exists to assist the Cuban people in that transition and to provide them help when they ask us for it.

We certainly want to do everything we can to hasten that day and to help that day move forward, and you've heard about some of our efforts in broadcasting, some of our efforts in trying to help break the information blockade that the Cuban Government has imposed on its people to try and do that. But you know, I think that the efforts of the Castro government to impose some kind of dynastic succession on the island are certainly things that are not only not acceptable to us but we think in the long run aren't going to be acceptable to the Cuban people either.

QUESTION: But fathers and -- sons succeed fathers in this country.

MR. CASEY: Yeah. Amazingly --

QUESTION: -- in this kind of dynamic.

MR. CASEY: -- amazingly, though, Barry, they do it through free and fair election and --

QUESTION: Right. But it's not against the law for someone's son to take over or brother take over.

MR. CASEY: I think what would be a wonderful thing to happen is --

QUESTION: It's so (inaudible). It's a cheap shot.

MR. CASEY: -- that the people of Cuba were given the opportunity --

QUESTION: Well, of course.

MR. CASEY: -- to vote for who they wish to have for their leader. And I think we'll take the bet that the choice would not be a continuation of the Castro regime.

QUESTION: Well, can I ask you about one of our -- one of the U.S. good friends, Turkey?

MR. CASEY: Barry, I think we're -- I think we're still on Cuba, but then we can go to Turkey.

QUESTION: Yeah. (Inaudible) it's nearly three weeks since we know that Fidel Castro has been sick and we find now Raul Castro has made practically his first comments. What do you think? Do you think this succession is a little more advanced in their opinion or what do you think?

MR. CASEY: Well first of all, you know, I don't have anything new to offer you on Fidel Castro's health. I also don't have any way of trying to gauge how this rather closed and tight circle of a regime is trying to think or move forward. Again, I think the main point for us is that we think the ability of the Cuban people to live in freedom, to freely choose their leaders is long overdue. What we want to see is a transition from the current dictatorship to a democratic government. And we certainly don't think that a transition from Fidel to Raul Castro fits that bill.

QUESTION: But don't you say that the fact that -- they say that they have mobilized the army, preparing for an invasion. It looks like Raul Castro is trying to just prop up his friends where he probably has most of them.

MR. CASEY: Well, look, certainly this regime practices the same kind of cronyism that we saw in other communist regimes that have fortunately largely been consigned to history. Again, I don't have a way of judging the motivations behind this. But what we're looking for and what we want to see is a transition to a democratic Cuba.

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