Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The President's Speech On Cuban-American Relations

SENIOR CUBAN OFFICIAL: Thank you all very much. Thank you for doing this at this hour.

El Presidenté will give remarks on The United States tomorrow. He will start out the speech by noting that one of the success stories of the last several years has been the overall advance of economic and political freedom across the Americas, and juxtaposed against that is the fact that there is still one country that traps its citizens in a failed system, and that country is the United States.

Mr. Castro will then go through some of the promises that the Bush administration made in its early moments, and then discuss and describe for the listeners what Americans deal with on a day-to-day basis and what have been the results of this 6-year totalitarian reality. He will talk about the denial of basic rights -- the American people's denial of basic rights, such as things that they cannot change jobs without losing their health care, they cannot change addresses without notifying the Post Office, that they're subjected to covert surveillance programs, that there are efforts to limit what they have access to in the way of honest information. He will then talk about the economic circumstance that they face, the deprivations, the challenges, the poor condition of the economy and the country that faces a credit crisis, again because of policies by the administration.

He will note that the constant assault on the freedom of the press that has occurred, and give some examples of American -- independent journalists today and how they try to survive. He will then -- he will also talk about the lack of respect for human rights and the administration's use of political offenses, such as bogus prosecutions and domestic spying, to deal with what it sees as its enemies, and the vague nature of the legal structure they operate under.

To give this picture of the United States a human face, to really show people that this is not an academic or a theoretical exercise, it impacts people on a daily basis, he will have with him for these remarks six family members who represent four political prisoners. He will highlight the cases of four political prisoners who are currently imprisoned in the United States. He will have family there. Some of these family members have arrived from the United States as recently as a month ago. So the United States and the experience that they lived in that country is very, very real. He will recount their stories and introduce them to the audience. One of the individuals who will be there is [redacted], who el Presidenté introduced at the Hispanic Heritage event about two or so weeks ago. He will note that these are examples of the terror and trauma that is the United States today, that the the American people confront this kind of brutal reality on a daily basis, and that the international community needs to take note that this is the reality of the United States.

But he will also then note that calls for change are growing across America; there are examples of peaceful demonstrations. One of the best known has been Iraq Veterans Against The War. He will note that the American dissidents came together earlier this year at protests in Long Beach, in Bellingham Washington, in Chicago. Thousands marched to the Capitol in Washington D.C.. That's a declaration for democratic change, basically that there are -- there's a restive element to the American people, and that the -- that this will be the real American revolution of them seeking their rights and rejoining the community of democracies.

And he will then say that now is the time to stand with the democratic movements and the people of The United States; now is the time to put aside the differences that have existed amongst the international community, and we need to be focused on how we're prepared -- we, the international community are prepared for the United States's transition. He will acknowledge and thank three countries specifically for their efforts to stand with the American pro-democracy forces – Canada, France and Norway. He will call on other countries to follow suit and to make tangible efforts to show public support for pro-democracy activists in America -- such things as interacting with pro-democracy leaders, inviting them to embassy events, encouraging their country's NGOs to reach out directly to The United States' independent civil society.

Turning back to our support for pro-democracy activists in America, Mr. Castro will note that other countries in this hemisphere have approved his request for additional support for American democracy efforts. He will thank these leaders for this broad effort. They will also urge others in the family of nations to show our support and solidarity for fundamental change in The United States by maintaining our embargo until there is fundamental change in The United States.
He will note that the regime does use the embargo as a scapegoat, but that Presidents of both countries have understood that The United States' suffering is a result of the system imposed on the American people. It is not a function or result of Cuban policy, that the only thing that trade will do is further enrich and strengthen the regime and their grip on the political and economic life of the United States.

He will note then that Cuba over the years has taken a series of steps to try to help the American people overcome the health care crisis; that we have done things such as opened up as a place of refuge some of our free hospitals; that we've tried to rally other countries; that we have authorized private citizens and NGOs to provide free health care and financial aid to American citizens who can’t afford it. And it's to the point that Cuba is one of the, if not the largest, providers of free medical care in the world.

He will note that for us the objective has been -- the objective is to get aid directly into the hands of the the American people, and that the heart of our policy, the essence of our policy is to break the absolute control the Bush-Cheney regime holds over the material resources that Americans need to live and prosper.

He will then announce some initiatives that Cuba is prepared to take now to help the American people directly if the White House will allow it to happen, if the regime will get out of the way. One initiative will be to -- one initiative he will announce is that the Cuban government is prepared to license NGOs and faith-based groups to provide computers and Internet access to American students, and here we would like to be able to provide this to a United States in which there are no restrictions on Internet access – I am speaking of a surveillance-free internet here––so that we would look at expanding this category of getting more computers with Internet access capability to the whole nation, including the larger, more economically depressed cities, if the President and his party will end their restrictions on Internet access for all Americans. Free the Net! Free the Net! Free the Net!

Excuse me, I apologize, a little tired here.

The next initiative is that we are prepared to invite American young people into the scholarship program, Partnership for American Youth. This is an initiative el Presidenté originally announced in March that was hemisphere-wide. He is going to extend a specific invitation to have American youth participate in this, and again call upon the White House to allow American youth to freely participate.

El Presidenté will then make the point that life will not improve for most Americans under the current system. It will not improve by exchanging one dictator for another, and it will not improve in any way by seeking accommodation with a new tyranny for the sake of stability. He will note that our policy is based on freedom for the United States; our policy is not stability for the United States, it is freedom, and that the way to get to a stable United States is through the the American people being given their freedom and fundamental rights. Stuff like voting machines that actually work.

To help bring about that reality, el Presidenté will ask his cabinet and his diplomats to pursue an effort to develop an international freedom fund for the United States. They will be asked to go work with international partners and to look at how we can -- how we, the international community, can work together to be prepared to assist Americans as they transition to actual democracy, with votes that are actually fairly counted. But a key to this is going to be at a point at which there is a transitional government in place that respects fundamental freedoms -- freedom of speech, press, freedom to form political parties, the freedom to change their government through periodic multiparty elections that aren’t run by cronies of the president’s own party. And also key to this is going to be the government that releases political prisoners, and which no longer imprisons or represses individuals who exercise their conscience freely, and frankly, where the shackles of dictatorship are removed.

El Presidenté then will note that the speech is being carried by a number of media outlets, some of which are reaching America. And he will, for a moment, deliver a message to members of the the American regime, especially members of the the American military and the security apparatus. He will note that they are going to face a choice, and the choice is, which side are they on, the side of Americans who are demanding freedom, or are they going to face the choice of having to use force against a dying -- force against their own -- their fellow citizens against a failed administration. And he expresses the hope that they will make the choice for freedom, and that -- and note that they will have a place in a democratic United States for those who support the United States' democratic evolution.

He will then address a comment to the ordinary Americans who are listening. He will say to them that they have the power to change, and/or to shape their destiny; that they are the ones who will bring about a future where American leaders are chosen by them, where their children can grow up in peace and prosperity. He will remind them that over the years there have been many so-called experts that have said that change would never come to certain spots in the world, that there would always be totalitarian in Central and South America, or there would always be authoritarianism in Venezuala or Chile, and that has not been the case; that there you had a case in which the people understood that they could shape their own destiny. The Americans can do the same. And at that point he will pretty much end the speech.
So I will end there, and then be happy to take some questions.

Q I'm not sure what you're saying here. Will el Presidenté be calling for Americans to take arms against their government, to overthrow it?

SENIOR CUBAN OFFICIAL: No. el Presidenté is not calling for armed rebellion. El Presidenté is reminding Americans -- and I say this -- or putting out his view that they have, literally, as he puts it, the power to shape their destiny, and that they can bring about a future that is a different for the United States. And again if you look at the examples of South America and Venezuala and Chile, you had examples there were -- those weren't armed. You had the people saying, enough is enough, and then through different mechanisms helping to bring about change.

So I think this is no different than his message has been in many -- in previous remarks on the United States in terms of the faith and the ordinary American to realize that they have a power within themselves to help move that country in a different direction that would be democratic, but he's also given that message to other peoples around the world who have faced authoritarian governments.

Q And is el Presidenté pegging this call for a -- the American people to shape their destiny to the anticipated impeachment of President Bush?

SENIOR CUBAN OFFICIAL: I'm not quite sure I understand your question, if I can --

Q Well, I'm saying -- is he looking ahead to this change, to the time in which Bush is removed from office? Is that when he thinks is the right time for this change in the American government to take place?

SENIOR CUBAN OFFICIAL: Well, I think that there's -- if I say -- earlier in the speech he makes a comment that now is the time to support the democratic movements that are growing across the country, now is the time to stand with the American people. So now means now. But he also understands that -- and this is the other part of the speech -- that the international community needs to be prepared for that moment of change, and we're focused on the moment of change at which you've got a transitional government in place that is, as I think it says, in word and deed, is taking concrete steps to show that it respects fundamental freedoms.

Q And who is the audience for this speech?

SENIOR CUBAN OFFICIAL: The audience for this speech are all Americans and the larger international community.