US President George W Bush has vowed to maintain the trade embargo on
Cuba for as long as the government in Havana keeps its "monopoly" on power.
Mr Bush said he looked forward to a world without Cuban leader Fidel
Castro and urged greater global action to promote democracy in Cuba.
He denounced present-day Cuba as "a tropical gulag".
Mr Bush was speaking in Washington in front of expatriate dissidents and
relatives of dissidents still in Cuba.
"As long as the regime maintains its monopoly over the political and
economic life of the Cuban people, the United States will keep the
embargo in place," he said in a speech at the US State Department.
In his first major address on Cuban policy in four years, Mr Bush spoke
of citizens there who, he said, had no freedom of employment or
expression, who lived in dire circumstances and who feared beatings for
pursuing the lives they wanted.
"The dissidents of today will be the nation's leaders"
President George Bush
"Now is the time to support the democratic movement growing on the
island," he said.
"Now is the time to stand with the Cuban people as they stand up for
their liberty. And now is the time for the world to put aside its
differences and prepare for Cubans' transitions to a future of freedom
and progress and promise."
Mr Bush mentioned the names of dissidents who had been imprisoned for
long terms, harassed or persecuted for speaking out against the Cuban
He presented dissidents and relatives of dissidents who had escaped Cuba
and were present in the audience.
"The dissidents of today will be the nation's leaders," Mr Bush said.
"And when freedom finally comes, they will surely remember who stood
He praised countries like the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary for the
support they were giving to Cuban dissidents and called on other
countries to follow suit.
Published: 2007/10/24 18:55:53 GMT