"As you hear this I am in Canada for the Summit of the Americas, joined by leaders of 33 other democratic nations," Bush said in his weekly radio address from Quebec, where the summit opened Friday.
"Only one country in the western hemisphere is not represented because that country, Cuba, is the only one that is not yet a democracy," Bush said. "We are pleased that many countries in the Americas join us in passing a resolution this week at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. They have called upon Cuba to respect the rights of its citizens. We know that for the people of Cuba their day of freedom will come."
The White House has repeatedly pointed to Cuba's conspicuous absence at the summit to air longstanding U.S. grievances with President Fidel Castro's government. But the repeated criticisms have drawn questions about the U.S. approach to Cuba in comparison to other Latin American countries like Haiti and Chile, which became democracies only in recent years after decades of dictatorial rule.
The White House's main objective at the summit is to press for increased trade throughout North and South America, an initiative Bush has said fosters democratic ideals in nascent fledgling democracies.
Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, said Castro's Cuba was too deeply entrenched in communism to benefit politically from long-banned U.S. trade.
"There are societies that are open enough and in transition enough that trade and involvement and engagement can actually make a difference, and then there are those that are so closed that any effort to engage actually ends up simply reinforcing the regime," Rice said. "Fidel Castro is a one-man band. We believe that just about anything that you do with Cuba simply reinforces his regime."
Rice also said, "I might just note that the Europeans have had plenty of economic activity with Cuba over the last few years and hasn't made one bit of difference to Cuba's political or human rights situation."
On Wednesday, the U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution calling on Cuba to respect human rights. The resolution failed to give an outright condemnation of Havana's human rights situation, however, despite U.S. pressure on other countries to support tougher language against Castro.
It was the first time in four years the United States failed to shore up enough support for a stronger resolution. But the White House still claimed victory since Castro did not altogether avoid international criticism on human rights.
Castro called the resolution a "Pyrrhic victory" for Washington. And he offered further comment as the Quebec summit opened to protests of Bush's trade initiative.
''In the name of the people of Cuba, I would like to express our sympathy and admiration,'' Castro said in a statement read on Cuban state television Friday night. ''Cuba supports you, embraces you, salutes you.''
Demonstrations in Quebec turned violent when some protesters tore down part of the chain-link fence enclosing the summit site and clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 5,000 people, most of whom were not involved in the skirmishes.
''Is this the way these governments treat their own people while trying to trick the world by calling themselves defenders of human rights?'' Castro's statement said.
The summit moved into its second day Saturday, with leaders huddling in meetings through the afternoon. Protests were also expected to resume.
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