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Bush tells Cuban-Americans to cool down

Monday, August 7th 2006 - 21:00 UTC
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United States President George W. Bush said Monday that it is the Cuban citizens living in the island who will decide the end of the “tyrannical situation”.

Speaking with journalists at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is spending a week-and-a-half vacation, Bush said that "our desire is for the Cuban people to be able to choose their own form of government".

"Once the people of Cuba decide the form of government, then Cuban-Americans can take an interest in that country and address the issues of property confiscation: but first things first. The Cuban people need to decide the future of their country" insisted Bush with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his side.

Bush's remark on property confiscation refers to the fact that many Cuban exiles claim that their property was seized by the Castro regime when he took power in 1959.

President Bush's announcement follow on similar statements from Ms Rice on Sunday when she said the US was ready and willing to help the Cuban people in their struggle for change on the island but it is not planning to force that change.

The idea that the United States would invade Cuba is "far-fetched" Rice said in remarks to NBC's "Meet the Press."

She said that the talk of invasion had arisen in Cuba due to the political uncertainty sparked by President Fidel Castro's sudden emergency intestinal surgery prior to which he provisionally handed over power to his brother Raul.

"We are not going to do anything to stoke a sense of crisis or a sense of instability in Cuba" Rice emphasized. "This is a transition period for the Cuban people, we are going to stand with them, and this transition period should not be simply the end of one dictatorship and the imposition of another dictatorship".

Although Cuban authorities visiting Bolivia and Colombia, Vice-president Carlos Rangel say that the Cuban leader is recovering from his surgery, the true state of his health and his whereabouts remain unknown and Raul Castro has not appeared in public since taking over from brother Fidel.

Lage currently in Bogotá for President Alvaro Uribe's taking office ceremony said that Fidel Castro's health "continues to evolve favourably" and anticipated he's expected to resume his duties in a few weeks.

Castro "is well looked after in a hospital" in Cuba, after the intestinal surgery he had to undergo said Lage who is the number three man in the regime behind Fidel and Raul.

US President Bush referred to the excessive secrecy practiced by the Cuban government, saying that the regime "is not a very transparent society" and adding that "I really don't know" how Castro, who will be 80 August 13, is faring after his operation.

"The only thing I know is what is speculated and that is that on the one hand he's very ill, on the other hand he's coming out of the hospital. I don't know more than that".

But another Cuban official from the country's State Council said that Castro's situation has proved the country is capable of a "peaceful succession".

"They (US) anticipated that a peaceful succession would not be possible in Cuba. What has happened in Cuba is a peaceful succession", said State Council member Roberto Fernandez Retamar. "Fidel is not heading Cuba but chaos has not overtaken the country", he insisted speaking to foreign journalists in Havana.

Categories: Mercosur.

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