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Announcement of Cuba Transition Coordinator Caleb McCarry

Press release from U.S. Department of State

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
July 28, 2005

(1:15 p.m. EDT)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for that very warm welcome. And I actually should be extending to you, ladies and gentlemen, our friends and colleagues a welcome here to the State Department to the Harry S. Truman Room -- Building in the Treaty Room. We want to give a special recognition to Senator Martinez who is with us this afternoon and I believe Ambassador Martin Palous is also here from the Czech Republic. (Applause.)

Thank you for sharing this very important occasion for advancing President Bush's freedom agenda in the Americas and on the beautiful island of Cuba. This occasion, frankly, would not be complete without you. President Bush created his Commission on Assistance to a Free Cuba with the express purpose of making his commitment, his personal commitment, to freedom in Cuba a national commitment with all the creativity and energy of his administration mobilized for that purpose.

The Commission, which is now chaired by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recommended many measures to hasten the end of the dictatorship in Cuba and to ensure that our government is prepared to assist the democratic transition, agilely and flexibly and decisively. The Administration has steadily and surely implemented each of the recommendations of that Commission. One such recommendation was the designation of a transition coordinator whose mandate it is to design and implement a comprehensive strategy for advancing freedom in Cuba. Ladies and gentlemen, for some, Cuba is an issue to be managed; for others, it is a policy to be implemented. But for all of you, it is more than that. It is a cause to be championed. (Applause.) For President George W. Bush, it is a cause. And so it is for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and for her new point man on Cuba.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure and privilege to introduce the Secretary of State, The Honorable Condoleezza Rice. (Applause.)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Good afternoon and thank you for being here. I especially want to thank Senator Martinez for being here, my former colleague in the Cabinet and now Senator from Florida. I also want to thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for being here. It says a great deal about what your people went through and that you know what it is to be denied freedom and how important it is to have the support of friends through long periods of darkness, but that the aspirations of human beings for liberty and freedom are so powerful that they never die. They are easily reborn when the opportunity arises. I want to thank very much those of you who are here, our partners in the Cuban American community, our partners in the desire for and the continued pursuit of a free Cuba.

For nearly 50 years, the regime of Fidel Castro has condemned the people of Cuba to a tragic fate of repression and poverty. Thousands of Cubans have fled Castro's nightmare and many of them, many of whom are represented in this room, generations represented in this room, came to America and found opportunity and freedom.

To accelerate the demise of Castro's tyranny, President Bush created the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. And last year, that Commission proposed a comprehensive strategy to prepare for a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba. With $59 million of funding, this new plan of action is speeding progress along many fronts. I want to thank the members of that commission. It was initially chaired by my successor -- my predecessor Colin Powell and by Mel Martinez. (Applause.) And I want to thank Roger Noriega, without whose tireless efforts, it would not have been possible. (Applause.)

Through this Commission we are empowering Cuban civil society to better organize and advocate for democratic change. We're working to deny resources to the Castro regime to break its blockade on information and to broadcast the truth about its deplorable treatment of the Cuban people. And today, we are acting on an essential commission recommendation to cement the keystone of our strategy. To direct our government's actions in support of a free Cuba, I am appointing Caleb McCarry to serve as our Cuba Transition Coordinator. (Applause.)

Caleb, who is joined here today by his wife and by his son and daughter, brings to this job a lifetime of experience and expertise in Latin American affairs. And for the past eight years Caleb has been a professional staff member of the House Committee on International Relations. Prior to that he was Vice President for the Americas program at the Center for Democracy. I want to thank Caleb for accepting this important post. Again, I want to thank his family for the time he's going to put into this. (Laughter.)

I know that a lot of hard work lies ahead. But the people of Cuba desire and deserve to share in the democratic progress of the Americas. With Caleb's help and the help of others in this room, the United States is going to hasten the coming of the day when a free Cuba is no longer a dream, but a reality.

I'm very often asked why the President put so much emphasis on democracy around the world. And there's a very clear answer to that. We, as Americans, have been privileged to know what it means to have the human dignity that comes only from living in liberty and freedom. It's not always easy and it can take time. The man behind me, Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of America, said that the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.

It is because Americans believe that liberty and freedom and the right to live in human dignity are not America's gifts but gifts from the Creator that we place so much emphasis and so much effort on the promotion of democracy around the world. And we will not rest until this hemisphere is the best example of a hemisphere united in freedom and democracy. (Applause.) We cannot do that until there is a free Cuba. (Applause.)

Thank you.

MR. MCCARRY: Madame Secretary, thank you for those kind words. Thank you for your leadership on behalf of a free Cuba. I am honored that you have entrusted me with this opportunity to serve our country and the cause of freedom. I want to also thank my friend and mentor, Roger Noriega, for his confidence in me. (Applause.)

I want to thank Senator Martinez, Ambassador Palous. I understand that Representative Diaz-Balart should be here shortly as well, my colleagues, my friends and all of the representatives of the Cuban American community for being here today. Most of all, I want to thank my wife Nan and our two wonderful children (Applause) especially for their love and support.

The United States of America is and always will be the friend of the Cuban people. The report of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba is an intelligent, generous and above all respectful offer of support to the Cuban people. While the dictatorship formulates its plans to perpetuate itself in power, in darkness, the Commission's report is a public document. It is not an imposition, but a comprehensive statement of what the United States is prepared to do to help the Cuban people secure the liberty and prosperity that are their right.

For 46 years, the dictatorship has willfully and cruelly divided the Cuban family. It will be Cubans, brave souls on the island itself and from around the world who will determine the future of a free Cuba. It is the responsibility of the civilized world to act to see that the Cuban family is reunited under political and economic freedom. We are committed to seeing the day when Cubans around the world in the fullness of liberty can in every corner of Marti's homeland speak the words that were born on the lips of Cuba's first patriots. (Speaking in Spanish.) (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your terrific comments, Caleb. I think we've really all witnessed the birth of a new leader here for this cause. And that's extraordinarily exciting for all of us because there is a lot of work to be done. You have the energy, the focus, the talent, the creativity and the support of this important community to get that work done and we wish you the very best of luck as we carry on. I want to invite -- I thank you again all for coming. Thank you, Senator Martinez, and others for coming and I want to invite you to partake in a small reception here. Thank you very much.

MR. MCCARRY: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. (Applause.)


Released on July 28, 2005

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