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Bush Names Coordinator for Cuban Political Transition

President Bush has named a veteran congressional staff official, Caleb McCarry, to the post of Transition Coordinator for Cuba. Mr. McCarry will coordinate U.S. policy efforts aimed at a peaceful end to Communist rule in Cuba.

The selection of a transition coordinator was among recommendations of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba that reported to President Bush in May of last year on ways to hasten the end of the Fidel Castro dictatorship in Cuba.

The announcement that Mr. McCarry will fill the position was made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who told a gathering at the State Department, including leaders of the Cuban-American community, that the aim of U.S. policy is to "accelerate the demise" of Mr. Castro's tyranny on the Caribbean island:

"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," she said. "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."

Mr. McCarry has spent the last eight years as a senior Republican staff member specializing in Latin America for the House International Relations Committee. Prior to that he was vice president of the Americas program at the Washington-based Center for Democracy.

He told the State Department audience that while the Cuban dictatorship conspires in darkness to perpetuate itself, the United States through last year's commission report has made a public statement on what it is prepared to do to help Cubans secure their rights to liberty and prosperity:

"For 46 years, the dictatorship has willfully and cruelly divided the Cuban family," he said. "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."

In addition to recommending the appointment of the transition coordinator, the 2004 commission report also urged a number of steps endorsed by President Bush, including spending nearly $60 million to promote Cuban democratization and overcome the jamming of U.S. broadcasts to Cuba.

A senior State Department official who spoke to reporters on terms of anonymity said relays of U.S. TV Marti broadcasts into Cuba by military aircraft are having some impact, as evidenced by a critical mention of them by President Castro in his July 26 Revolution Day speech.

He also said he believes a political transition is already under way in Cuba, at least in the "hearts and minds" of its citizens.

The official said Cubans are showing diminishing fear of the regime, as seen in the fact that a dissident assembly in Havana May 20 drew hundreds of participants despite government warnings they would face arrest.

He also said it was noteworthy that Mr. Castro chose to make his speech Tuesday on the 52nd anniversary of the start of his revolution in the "controlled environment" of a Havana theater, rather than the traditional open-air venue.

Though saying he was not threatening U.S. intervention, the official said a transition in Cuba from Mr. Castro to a communist crony or corrupt henchman was "unacceptable" to the United States, as he said would be massive repression by a failing regime.

He said part of the work of Mr. McCarry will be to mobilize international opinion against such eventualities and to assure that the United States can assist democratic forces in Cuba in what he termed a decisive, flexible, and agile way.