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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2005 Secretary Rice's Remarks > December 2005: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Meeting of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 19, 2005

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, meets with members of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, Monday, Dec. 19, 2005, in Washington. [ AP/WWP]This afternoon, I chaired a meeting of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. The President originally formed this Cabinet-level Commission in 2003 to explore ways the U.S. can help hasten and ease a democratic transition in Cuba. The Commission last met in May 2004 to present its first report to the President.

Reconvening the Commission at this time sends an important message to the people of Cuba, the current dictatorship, and our friends and democratic allies: after 46 years of cruel dictatorship, now is the time for change in Cuba.

By integrating U.S. Cuba policy across all agencies of the federal government and implementing recommendations in the Commission's first report, we have empowered Cuban civil society to better organize and advocate for democratic change; we have established measures that denied millions of dollars in revenue to the dictatorship; we are breaking the regime's information blockade on the Cuban people; and we have drawn greater attention to the dictatorship's deplorable treatment of the Cuban people.

The Commission was reconvened to identify additional measures to help Cubans hasten the day when they will be free from oppression and to develop a concise but flexible strategic plan that will help the Cuban people move rapidly toward free and fair democratic elections. This plan will not be an imposition but rather is a promise we will keep with the Cuban people to marshal our resources and expertise, and encourage our democratic allies to be ready to support Cuba when the inevitable opportunity for genuine change arises.

A genuine transition to political and economic freedom must be led by the people of Cuba. The work we do now will ensure that our government is fully prepared, if asked, to assist a genuine Cuban transition government committed to democracy and which will lead to Cuba's reintegration into the inter-American system.

By May 2006, the Commission will prepare a second report to the President with both updated recommendations to hasten democracy, and an inter-agency strategic plan to assist a Cuban-led transition.

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2005/1196



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