US urges transition to democracy in Cuba

Other News Materials 26 February 2008 02:41 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The United States on Monday continued to call for a move toward democracy in Cuba the day after Raul Castro was named the country's next president, succeeding his brother, Fidel Castro, who ruled the island for nearly half a century.

Deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters that the US would continue to seek a peaceful transition to democracy, the release of political prisoners and respect for human and political rights in Cuba.

"Unfortunately, the Cuban people deserve much better than the handover of a family business of dictatorship between the Castro brothers," Casey said.

Since Fidel Castro announced last week that he would step down as the Caribbean nation's president, the US has maintained it will not alter its position or lift its economic embargo until there is a democratic transition.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the US supports efforts for the Cuban people to "obtain a voice in their national destiny" while urging respect of human rights and free and fair elections.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino on Monday said lifting the embargo would only help the island's political elite.

"The people who really need the support of a freer system would not benefit from lifting the embargo. So there is not a contemplation here of changing that now," she said.