By JIM RUTENBERG
Published: June 29, 2007
NEWPORT, R.I., June 28 — President Bush on Thursday raised the
anticipated death of the dictator Fidel Castro as an opportunity to push
for democracy in Cuba, which he called the "one nondemocracy in our
"One day, the good Lord will take Fidel Castro away," Mr. Bush said
during remarks here at the Naval War College.
The audience reacted by laughing and clapping at what seemed to be a
wink from Mr. Bush. But, in an apparent effort to dispel the notion that
he was making light of Mr. Castro's health, he hushed them, saying, "No,
no, no," and continued, "Then, the question is, 'What will be the
approach of the U.S. government?'
"My attitude is," he said, "that we need to use the opportunity to call
the world together to promote democracy as the alternative to the form
of government they have been living with."
Mr. Bush's comments came in response to a question about his assessment
of the situation in South America.
Mr. Bush also used the opportunity to take a thinly veiled swipe at his
other nemesis, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.
"In the neighborhood there is a person who is undermining a democracy,"
Mr. Bush said, following his regular refusal to mention Mr. Chávez by
name. "And therefore we need to be concerned about the loss of
democracies in our neighborhood."
Mr. Bush stopped here on his way to his family compound in
Kennebunkport, Me., where he is to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin