A presidential commission recommended Thursday that the United States take steps to subvert the planned succession in Cuba under which power would pass from President Fidel Castro to his younger brother, Raul.
The commission, headed by Secretary of State Colin Powell, said the United States “rejects the continuation of a communist dictatorship” on the island.
The commission recommended measures “to focus pressure and attention on the ruling elite so that a succession by this elite or any one of its individuals is seen as what it would be: an impediment to a democratic and free Cuba.”
The 500-page report was made public after President Bush discussed it with commission members at the White House.
“We’re not waiting for the day of Cuban freedom, we are working for the day of freedom in Cuba,” Bush told reporters during a photo session.
Later, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said that Bush embraces in general terms the recommendations of the report. Bush received the report on Monday.
Thwarting succession plan
A White House fact sheet stated that it is the objective of U.S. policy “to bring an end to the ruthless and brutal dictatorship in Cuba.”
That policy statement, coupled with the commission’s determination to block Cuba’s succession plan, goes beyond the previous policy of attempting to hasten a democratic transition in Cuba.
Early congressional reaction to the report was mixed, with Cuban-American Republicans voicing support and at least five senators, including two Republicans, expressing opposition.
Bush directed that up to $59 million be spent over the next two years to help promote the goal of a democratic Cuba.
Up to $36 million would be spent to carry out democracy-building activities and support for family members of the political opposition, among other activities.
Up to $18 million would be earmarked for circumventing Cuban jamming of Radio and TV Marti. Both are U.S. government broadcast operations tailored for Cuban audiences.
Another $5 million would be used to disseminate information abroad about Cuba’s human rights record and other issues.