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Remarks on Signing the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 in Miami, Florida

October 23, 1992

The President. Thank you very, very much. And may I thank Armando for that warm introduction and all of you for this reception. I am very, very pleased to be here. It's great to be among so many friends. This is a very special day, and we've got one standing up here who deserves very special credit, our great Senator Connie Mack. And also a great friend, Congressman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, joined in the Congress now by Lincoln, Lincoln Diaz-Balart. And may I salute the veterans of the 2506 Brigade who are here, heroes of America and heroes in your homeland. Tomas Garcia Fuste and Armando Perez Roura, Ariel Ramos. Of course, let me recognize another old friend, Carlos Salman, and Al Cardenas and Jorge Mas. Where's Jorge? Hey, Jorge is the only guy that can take on that "60 Minutes" crowd and come out ahead. You know, that was very good. [Laughter] He did. He did just great, and he's one of the key forces, of course, as so many in this room, but he was one of the very key forces behind this Cuban Democracy Act. And let me offer a very special recognition to the representatives of La Unidad, champions of a free Cuba.

Now, we share a history, a commitment to struggle. We've worked years toward this single goal, common dream, because everyone here wants a free and democratic Cuba. Today I am delighted to take the next step toward that dream with the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. Our policies and principles rest on a single belief: For freedom to rise in Cuba, Fidel Castro must fall.

Audience members. Viva Bush! Viva Bush! Viva Bush!

The President. In today's democratic world, Communist governments no longer hold sway. Cuba's special relationship with the former Soviet Union has all but ended. And we've worked to ensure that no other government helps this, the cruelest of regimes. And the result: Literally, you look around the world and you see that Castro has literally become an outcast among dictators. He's not a leader; he's what you call a warden. His beaches are not borders but his confines of freedom. And the tide is running out. For years, this Cuban community has energized Miami. Someday freedom-loving people will change that island for the better, just like America has changed the entire world. And none of us should rest and relax until we stop those who mock the rights that we treasure, rights of speech and religion and assembly and economic freedom.

One hundred years ago, the Abraham Lincoln of Cuba, the great patriot Jose Marti, said simply, "To beautify life is to give it an aim." To beautify life is to give it an aim. And I agree with that. Our aim is human liberty.

Audience members. Viva Bush! Viva Bush! Viva Bush!

The President. People are choosing liberty all over the world by their votes. The Cuban people deserve no less. That's why this Cuban Democracy Act strengthens our embargo. It will speed the inevitable demise of the Cuban Castro dictatorship. The legislation that I sign today reflects our determination, mine and yours, that the Cuban Government will not benefit from U.S. trade or aid until the Cuban people are free. And it reflects another belief: I'm not going to let others prop up Castro with aid or some sweetheart trade deal.

All of this is not designed to hurt the Cuban people. I am saddened by their suffering and loss of freedom. Many of you in this room have families there, and I'm saddened by families that are split apart and sons and daughters lost at sea. Let's make it clear: Cuba suffers because Castro refuses to change. Our policy and this bill allow for humanitarian donations of food and medicine to nongovernment organizations in Cuba, help that will get to the Cuban people. And it allows for improved communications between the United States and Cuba, so that all of you can maintain contact with family members.

Our policy is the only way to put it, plain and simple: Democracy, Mr. Castro, not sometime, not someday, but now. Put it this way: We simply will not provide life support to a dictatorship which is dying. There will never be normal relations with Cuba as long as Castro sustains this illegitimate regime, as long as he intimidates and does violence to a brave and courageous people.

I have challenged him before, and now I challenge him again. Mr. Castro, let a United Nations human rights representative come to your island nation.

Audience members. Viva Bush! Viva Bush! Viva Bush!

The President. Mr. Castro, put your leadership to the test of the ballot box, and let your people decide. Call off your secret police, and let the Cuban people choose their leaders and their future. Let your people live in freedom. That is the message to Cuba today.

You know, when Cuba is free, a million free Cuban Americans will be united with their long-suffering Cuban brothers. Nowhere has the pain and anguish of family separation been more eloquently stated than in a letter that Barbara received from Major Orestes Lorenzo, who is with us here today. Where is the major? Right here. As all of you know, he heroically escaped from Cuba when he flew his Mig to south Florida a year and a half ago, asked for political asylum. But he could not free his family. Despite humanitarian pleas from the world over, Castro keeps Vicky, Major Lorenzo's wife, and their two little sons, Alexander and Reyniel, hostage there in Cuba. I want to say to the major here today and to all of you that I will keep working until all Cuban families are united again in freedom.

You know, Castro likes to say that any person who wants to leave Cuba may go. Well, all it takes, he says, is an American visa. Well, over a year ago we issued a visa for the major's family, and still they're barred from leaving that country. The answer is today to Mr. Castro: Do what's decent. Do what's right. You say everybody can leave; let the Lorenzo family go.

One cannot help but be emotional, looking around this room and seeing the commitment here. I get it in a very special way, obviously, through my son Jeb, who's a friend to many here, and through my dear friend Armando Codina who introduced me, who sensitizes me to this struggle that everyone in this room has been involved in.

We've been in this, and I say "we" proudly, we've been in this for a long time, and we are not going to back away from this commitment. We're not going to listen to these editorials that tell me how to run the foreign policy of this country and to change this policy.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. We are not going to waffle on our commitment, and we're not going to quit until -- we've got a little enthusiasm over here -- until that is achieved. You must remember that this administration -- and I am the President who pressed the Soviets and the Russians to cut back their support and pull out their troops and send an unmistakable signal to Cuba of its complete isolation. And we're the ones, you and I together, who urged our friends in Latin America to let Castro know that he's out of things, he's a has-been. It is my firm belief, I really believe this, that during my second term as President, you will be reunited with your loved ones.

Audience members. Viva Bush! Viva Bush! Viva Bush!

The President. And I know, I am certain in my heart that I will be the first American President to set foot on the soil of a free and independent Cuba.

Thank you. Thank you all, and God bless you. Now I will sign the Defense Authorization Act, giving the force of law to the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992.

Note: The President spoke at 5:48 p.m. at the Omni Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Armando Codina, chairman, Codina-Bush Group; Tomas Garcia Fuste, WQBA radio talk show host; Armando Perez Roura, WAQI radio talk show host; Ariel Ramos, newspaper reporter, Diario Las Americas; Carlos Salman, real estate broker; Al Cardenas, attorney; and Jorge Mas, chairman, Cuban American National Foundation. The President also referred to the 2506 Brigade, the military unit which participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion. H.R. 5006, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993, approved October 23, which incorporated the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 484.

George Bush, Remarks on Signing the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 in Miami, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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