Bush Presents Cuba with New Carrots and Familiar Stick

October 30, 2007 10:54 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As Fidel Castro’s decline into ill health raises speculation that Cuba is approaching a time of radical change, President Bush outlines incentives for democratic and economic reform.

30-Second Summary

On Oct 23, in his first major speech on Cuba in four years, President George W. Bush lambasted Fidel Castro’s regime and called on the Cuban people to resist their military rulers.

“You have the power to shape your own destiny,” said the president, addressing Cuba’s ordinary citizens.

Bush stated that the U.S. trade and travel restrictions that have been in place since the 1960s would continue, but that America would also reward economic and political reform with aid from the newly established Freedom for Cuba Fund.

There has been much conjecture about a new direction for the largest of the Caribbean islands ever since Fidel Castro, 81, became ill and withdrew from public life just over 15 months ago.

Since then his brother Raul, 76, who is in line to succeed Fidel, has taken on most of Castro’s responsibilities.

The New York Sun commended Bush’s speech. But the International Herald Tribune summarized the opinions of a number of newspapers in judging that the administration’s policy continued a “half-century-old economic embargo that has failed to unseat Castro while giving him an ever ready excuse for his government’s economic failings and repression.”

Previous U.S. financial support for Cuba's pro-democracy dissidents suffered from a lack of oversight, according to an 2006 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In one instance, the GAO found that U.S. grant money was spent on computer games, fur and leather clothing, and Godiva chocolates.

Headline Links: President Bush's Cuba speech

Reaction: The Cuban government

Background: Castro’s illness, Cuban developments and U.S. aid

Castro's illness

On July 26, 2006, the 80-year-old leader became ill a few hours after the Revolution Day celebrations, the annual festivities marking the attack he led on an army barracks in 1959 that launched the Cuban Revolution.

The deterioration in Castro’s health over the past year, and his withdrawal from public life, suggest that his 47-year reign is drawing to a close.
Recent U.S. aid for Cuban pro-democracy movements

Opinion: The wrong track or the home stretch for Cuban foreign policy

Wrong track
The home stretch

Reference Material: A Cuban overview

Key Players: Fidel and Raul Castro

Fidel Castro
Raul Castro

History: Cuba


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