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Cuba Lashes Back at Bush

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM

President Bush said he will not consider lifting the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba until Fidel Castro releases all political prisoners and holds free and fair elections.

BBC Radio reported Tuesday that Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, the Castro government's point man on U.S.-Cuba relations, accused Bush of pandering to the "terrorist mafia" in Miami. Miami is often a target of Castro's wrath because of its huge Cuban exile population.

According to the BBC, Alarcon also chided Bush for "having the nerve" to raise the issue of free elections, given the controversy over the presidential ballot-counting in Florida.

"You have to have a nerve to go to Miami and speak of honest and clean elections," said Alarcon during a "roundtable discussion" on state run radio and television.

President Bush discussed his policy toward Cuba Monday during appearances in both Washington and Florida. In Florida, he took part in Cuban Independence Day celebrations and did some campaigning for his brother Jeb, who is seeking re-election as Florida's governor.

Alarcon described Bush's Monday speeches as a "gesture of thanks and gratitude" to Miami's Cuban exile community for its support of his brother Jeb.

BBC reported that Cuban dissidents had a positive reaction to Bush's comments.

Vladimiro Roca, who was released from prison earlier this month, said, "Both the Cuban government and the U.S. government should make changes in which dialogue should prevail."

Elizardo Sanchez, leader of the Cuban Commission on Human Rights, said he supported all of Bush's references to human rights and the release of political prisoners but thought "the rest of his address is Cold War rhetoric."

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President Bush said he will not consider lifting the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba until Fidel Castro releases all political prisoners and holds free and fair elections. BBC Radio reported Tuesday that Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon, the Castro...
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Tuesday, 21 May 2002 12:00 AM
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