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US Laments Continuation of 'Castro Family Dictatorship'


The United States said Monday the official transfer of power in Cuba from Fidel Castro to his younger brother Raul was a disappointment, though hardly an unexpected development. The White House said the long-standing U.S. economic embargo against Cuba's communist government will continue. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Bush administration officials have brushed aside suggestions that Raul Castro may be a more pragmatic leader than his brother or a potential reformer, and they are making clear there will be no change in U.S. policy toward Cuba with the younger Castro now confirmed as president.

In a talk with reporters on Sunday's unanimous decision by Cuba's National Assembly naming Raul Castro the new chief executive, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said anyone hoping for some kind of real transition in Cuba would be disappointed by the outcome.

Casey said the continuation of the "Castro family dictatorship" is not something the United States wanted to see, nor is it in the interests of the Cuban people.

"We'll see what, if any, differences there are in terms of the policies that are pursued," he said. "But in terms of the most important policies, I unfortunately don't see much difference at this point.

"We still have a government that believes it's appropriate keep people held as political prisoners, to deny the population their basic political and human rights, and to continue with a system of governance that is fundamentally a dictatorship," he added.

There were similar comments at the White House from Press Secretary Dana Perino who said President Bush's position on maintaining the decades-old U.S. economic embargo on Cuba has not changed.

A commission formed by Mr. Bush issued a report two years ago offering Cuba wide-ranging U.S. economic and other assistance if it began a genuine transition from communism and set free elections.

Spokesman Casey said the United States will continue to hope for, and do what it can to encourage that kind of transition. But he said the handover of power from one member of the Castro family to another does not bode well for Cuba's immediate political future.

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