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Fact Sheet: President Bush Announces Initiative for a New Cuba

May 19, 2002

Excerpts from the President's Remarks to be delivered on May 20, 2002:

"In the 2003 National Assembly elections, Cuba has the opportunity to offer Cuban voters the substance of democracy, not just its hollow, empty forms. Opposition parties should have the freedom to organize, assemble and speak - with equal access to the airwaves. All political prisoners should be released and allowed to participate in the election process. Human rights organizations should be free to visit Cuba to ensure that the conditions for free elections are being created. And the 2003 elections should be monitored by objective, outside observers. These are the minimum steps necessary to make sure that next year's elections are a true expression of the will of the Cuban people."

"Without major steps by Cuba to open up its political system and its economic system, trade with Cuba will not help the Cuban people - it will merely enrich Castro and his cronies and prop up their dictatorship. With real political and economic reform, trade can benefit the Cuban people and allow them to share in the progress of our times."

"Full normalization of relations with Cuba - diplomatic recognition, open trade and a robust aid program - will only be possible when Cuba has a new government that is fully democratic, when the rule of law is respected, and when the human rights of all Cubans are fully protected. Yet under the Initiative for a New Cuba, the United States recognizes that freedom sometimes grows step by step - and we will encourage those steps."

The President announced today his Initiative for a New Cuba. This initiative, the result of a policy review conducted by the White House, is an effort to bring Cuba into the Western Hemisphere's community of democracies.

  • The Initiative calls on the Cuban government to undertake political and economic reforms and conduct free and fair elections next year for the National Assembly.
  • The Initiative challenges the Cuban government to open its economy, allow independent trade unions, and end discriminatory practices against Cuban workers.
  • If the Cuban government takes these concrete steps toward democracy, President Bush will work with the United States Congress to ease the ban on trade and travel between the United States and Cuba.

With reform, trade can benefit the Cuban people and allow them to share in the progress of our time. Without major reform, trade with Cuba will only help the Castro regime, not the Cuban people.

The United States has long maintained that the Cuban government must move to a democratic system that fully respects the human rights of its people. This will remain the Administration's policy.

The Initiative for a New Cuba reaches out to the Cuban people immediately with the following new steps to make life better for people living under Castro's rule:

  • facilitating meaningful humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people by American religious and other non-governmental groups;
  • providing direct assistance to the Cuban people through non-governmental organizations;
  • calling for the resumption of direct mail service to and from Cuba; and
  • establishing scholarships in the United States for Cuban students and professionals trying to build independent civil institutions and for family members of political prisoners.

The Initiative for a New Cuba also states that the United States is not a threat to Cuban sovereignty.

Under the Initiative for a New Cuba, the Administration will continue to work to mitigate the suffering of the Cuban people. This Initiative is the beginning of an ongoing, flexible, and responsive campaign designed to generate rapid and peaceful change within Cuba.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: President Bush Announces Initiative for a New Cuba Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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