From: Karen Lee Wald [ ]
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 3:48 PM
Aggressive Remarks by Roger F. Noriega
Importance: High

The fact that the Bush regime is stepping up its Big Stick rhetoric about Cuba (and elsewhere) might be just dismissed as election year campaign bravado, if we didn't know that these insane fascists in power actually DO go out and destroy entire nations at whim, and that a docile public led by corporate controlled media accepts whatever they do.

When we understand clearly that "democratic transition" is the current euphemism for reimposing dependent capitalism on the Cuban people, and realize too that this is not something they will submit to willingly --despite Washington's and the corporate media's attempts to convince us that only Fidel Castro and a handful of his "loyalists" oppose this change -- we can see how really threatening Noriega's remarks are. Basically he is saying that the US will go in and wipe out everyone who still supports Cuban socialism once Fidel dies, using as a pretext the "chaos" that the US minions on the island have been instructed to stir up at that moment.

Remarks by Ambassador Roger F. Noriega
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
January 16, 2004, Washington, D.C.

Thank you for inviting me here today.  The timing and objective of this seminar is particularly propitious, as it comes at a time when institutions and governments around the globe are looking at Cuba and asking themselves, "After 45 long years of dictatorship, how can we help the Cuban people out of this nightmare?"  For many people, this represents a sea change in thinking, in no small part brought about by last March's brutal crackdown.

Most of Castro's long-time friends no longer express solidarity with him or trumpet the so-called Triumphs of the Revolution.  [That's not true. While SOME have allowed themselves to be confused, and others express SOME concerns, MOST of Cuba's long-time friends still support the essential goals and practice of the Revolution.] They no longer cast a blind eye to the egregious human rights violations [sic] that the Cuban people have had to endure for 45 years. [Is he referring to such "violations of human rights" as the guarantees that every rural farmworker owns the land he/she works on, that every person is guaranteed health care, education, housing, etc? -- all things we here in the advanced US don't consider to be rights, but rather commodities available to those who can afford it?]

The March crackdown was critical in another respect: it demonstrated the regime's palpable concern that there is something growing in Cuban society that it cannot control -- specifically, a nascent democratic element that is losing its fear of the regime and dares to stand up and criticize it. [No. What it shows is that Cuba will not let a fifth column demonstrably in the pay of people like Noriega, protegee of Jesse Helms, and his ilk, be prepared to carry out their nefarious plans.]

That is the reason Castro reacted so harshly: he does not want a
democratic opposition to grow and topple him just as it had toppled regimes in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.  The crackdown was his attempt to eradicate civil society at its roots, to strangle it in its cradle before it could become a threat.
[If they were really a "democratic opposition", you would think that at least SOME of them would manage to get themselves elected to the National Assembly or its local branches, since anyone can nominate anyone, can nominate themselves, and since elections are by secret ballot. No one in Washington or Miami has yet come up with an explanation as to why their so-called "democratic opposition" has no support among the Cuban people. All we are given by way of "explanation" is insults and lies: that the Cuban people are simply too docile or too intimidated to rise up. Yet that wouldn't explain why all the rightwing calls for people to cast blank ballots -- which are virtually undetectable as to identity of voters -- have failed miserably to produce the results they have hoped for.  It
takes no courage at all to cast a blank ballot as a form of opposition, yet year after year, Cubans put Americans to shame in terms of the numbers and percentages who actually vote.]

But the amazing thing is that, despite the long prison sentences, despite the oppression and harassment, there are still [a very few] Cubans courageous [or willing to be bribed] enough to stand up to the regime.  Castro will not live forever; there will be a democratic change in government in Havana.  We need to do all that we can to help ensure that it is a successful democratic transition rather than a succession in tyranny. [In other words, Washington is willing to do everything in its power -- which is considerable -- to make sure that none of the people who still believe in the goals of the revolution, and in socialism, are allowed to continue in leadership. Knowing full well that it would require a major civil war or invasion of Cuba to prevent that normal succession in leadership.]

That is the goal for the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, which the president announced on October 10: to hasten a democratic transition and to be prepared to assist a free Cuba.  Its aim is to help ensure that the hangover after a 45-year dictatorship does not interfere with transition.  We must be prepared to be agile, and decisive, when that day
finally arrives in order to end all vestiges of the corrupt Castro regime once and for all.

Specifically, the Commission is examining ways to assist in: (1)
establishing democracy and the rule of law [whose law?]; (2) creating the core institutions of free enterprise; (3) modernizing infrastructure; and (4) providing health [sic], housing [sic], and human services. [It will be interesting to see how the nation with tens of millions of homeless and 41 million without health care intends to provide these services to a nation that with all its difficulties and limitations has no one living in the street and no one without access to health care....] Cooperating with international organizations and keeping the multilateral community focused on Castro's continued human rights abuses will also be part of our efforts.

Secretary Powell and then-Secretary Martinez convened the first Commission meeting on December 5, with high-level participation from the Commission's core group -- State, USAID, HUD, Commerce, Treasury, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Security Council.  Working groups are
established, focusing on the priority topics.  When the working groups started deliberating in late December, I told them of President Bush's personal interest in their work.  The Commission has been tasked with presenting an initial report to the president by May 1.

This is a tall order, given the number and scope of the problems to be addressed.  The Commission working groups seek to benefit from the existing work that has been done by private individuals, academia, and institutions.  This includes tapping into the excellent, ongoing work of the Cuban Transition Project, which has produced a number of thought-provoking monographs that often provide different perspectives on problems.  I applaud the efforts of Jaime Suchlicki and the CTP collaborators, who have devoted considerable energy to examining a number of these issues.

My State Department colleagues will be listening to your presentations today.  I believe there is a growing urgency in this kind of planning, as we must prepare to work with the Cuban people toward a common goal: a rapid transition to a democratic and free Cuba.

Thank you.

(end text)

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