President Bush met with two Cuban dissidents today, and used the occasion to make some marvelously blunt and truthful comments on Cuba, and much of the world’s shameful tolerance of Castro’s tyranny:
President Bush chastised most other countries Friday for “a sad and curious pattern” of doing little to speak out against human rights and political abuses in Cuba. “Unfortunately, the list of countries supporting the Cuban people is far too short and the democracies absent from that list are far too notable,” Bush said at the White House.
The “small band of brave nations” speaking out for freedom in Cuba include, Bush said, his own administration as well as nations that were in the Communist bloc but are now democratic such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
“The United States has not been silent, nor will we be silent,” he said. “When a new day finally dawns for Cubans, they will remember the few brave nations that stood with them, and the many that did not.”
One hopes so. Bush noted that Communist repression continues in Cuba:
The president said the global community has largely remained silent in recent months, even as dozens of young Cubans wearing “change” bracelets were arrested, as Cuban authorities raided a Catholic church to spray parishioners with tear gas and drag them away. Last weekend, activists distributing copies of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights were pushed and beaten.
The President emphatically rejected the idea that the U.S. somehow needs to meet Cuba’s dictatorship halfway:
The only way for relations to improve between Cuba and the United States, he said, is for the government there to pave the way for free and fair elections, release all political prisoners and respect human rights “in word and deed.”
“What needs to change is not the United States; what needs to change is Cuba,” the president said.
President Bush continues to be the most eloquent spokesman for freedom on the world stage. Time is running out, though, for people to start noticing.
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