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Cason's farewell speech from US Interests Section in Havana
Change is inevitable in Cuba, and the United States and others will work with the Cuban people as they build a democratic and prosperous country, says James Cason, chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
In his July 4 final remarks to the U.S. Interests Section before leaving his post, Cason outlined U.S. efforts to encourage a democratic, free and prosperous Cuba, focusing in particular on efforts to assist Cuban pro-democracy activists.

As part of these efforts, Cason noted, the United States has increased the amount of uncensored information available to Cubans, including books, radios, newspapers, and extensive free and uncensored Internet access. The U.S. official pointed out that the United States also engages Cubans via video-conferences on issues such as democratic transitions, rule of law, and market economies.

Within this context, however, Cason stressed that the U.S. Interests Section has not given -- and does not give -- money to members of Cuba's civil society.

Cason also defended U.S. efforts against complaints that they are overly "provocative."

He said: "Is it provocative to point out that Cubans live under one of the most repressive regimes in the world? Is it provocative to remind Western journalists of Cuba's 300 political prisoners? Is it outside the scope of normal diplomatic activity to provide uncensored information to Cubans? [Is] holding events for pro-democratic Cuban dissidents or their family members provocative? Should we instead abandon Cubans to isolation from the real world?"

Cason added that nothing has come from being polite to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Moreover, he indicated that if the United States thought keeping quiet or lifting the U.S. embargo on Cuba would encourage political reforms, the United States would be quiet and resume commercial ties with Cuba.

Reflecting on Cuba's future, Cason said that the Castro regime is on its last legs, and significant change is inevitable.

"I'm confident that the Cuban people will not be satisfied with a partial economic opening, but will demand that Cuba undergo a thorough democratic transition," he said.

In the meantime, Cason encouraged the Cuban people to be ready to work for democratic change, adding that they can count on continued U.S. support.

"When that time comes, the United States and others will be at your side to help you build a democratic, prosperous Cuba -- a Cuba where all Cubans can realize their dreams," he said.
12 Jul 2005 by admin
The Havana Journal

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