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Public Papers - 1991

Message on Cuban Independence Day

1991-05-20

On May 20th, Cuban-Americans commemorate the 89th anniversary of Cuban independence, a day that celebrates the heroic efforts of the people who forged the Cuban Republic.

The history of our two countries is closely intertwined. During our own Revolution, when American troops were short on supplies, the women of Havana banded together and raised money for the cause of American freedom and independence.

Eighty-two years later, Cubans banded together and, after a long brutal struggle, built their own republic. Today we remember that victory for freedom and hope for its renewal in Cuba.

Freedom demands sacrifice. And the battle for freedom draws upon people's most heroic instincts and abilities. Jose Marti, a hero of freedom, the father of Cuban independence, said, ``To witness a crime in silence is like committing it.'' So, today we again reiterate unwavering commitment for a free and democratic Cuba. Nothing shall turn us away from this objective.

I ask Fidel Castro to make this an Independence Day to remember. I call on Fidel Castro to free political prisoners in Cuba and allow the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to investigate possible human rights violations in Cuba. I challenge Mr. Castro to let Cuba live in peace with its neighbors. And I challenge Mr. Castro to follow the examples of countries like Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Chile in their achievement of new democracies.

Put democracy to a test: permit political parties to organize and a free press to thrive. Hold free and fair elections under international supervision. Ninety-nine percent of the people of this hemisphere live either in a democracy or a country that is on the road to democracy. One percent live under the hemisphere's last dictator, Fidel Castro.

On Cuban Independence Day, our goals for the Cuban nation, shared by Cubans everywhere, are plain and clear: freedom and democracy, Mr. Castro, not sometime, not someday, but now. If Cuba holds fully free and fair elections under international supervision, respects human rights, and stops subverting its neighbors, we can expect relations between our two countries to improve significantly.

Thank you, and may God bless the freedom-loving people of Cuba and the United States.

Note: This message was recorded on May 16 in the Oval Office at the White House and was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 20. In his message, President Bush referred to President Fidel Castro Ruz of Cuba. The message was broadcast into Cuba with a Spanish translation on Radio and TV Marti.

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