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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 13, 2009
Message to the Cuban People by the President
As much of the world celebrates the dawning of a new year, Cuba marks 50 years of one of the cruelest dictatorships this hemisphere has witnessed.
To those who yearn for liberty, all is not lost. The world has witnessed other instances of dictatorship but has ultimately seen those regimes fall and formerly enslaved countries embrace their birthright of freedom. One day, the people of Cuba will enjoy this same blessing.
This message of hope is directed especially to those who have made pleas for freedom only to be silenced by tyranny and oppression -- individuals like Oscar Elias Biscet, Luis Enrique Ferrer, Ricardo Gonzalez, Jose Luis Garcia Paneque, and many others. It is equally intended for the families of such prisoners, who dearly miss their loved ones and continue to suffer oppression at the hands of the regime. The American people admire the courage of these families and the emerging civil society movement, reflected in the existence of groups like the Damas de Blanco, who stand up for the fundamental human rights bestowed by our Creator.
As long as there are people who fight for liberty, the United States will stand with them and speak out for those whose voices have been temporarily silenced. All Cubans have the right to be treated with dignity so that they can rise as high as their talents and hard work will take them. This is the standard my Administration and past Administrations - regardless of political affiliation - have expected from the Cuban government as the condition for improved relations.
My Administration has continually challenged the Cuban Government to bring genuine political and economic changes and improve human rights, and has made it clear that the United States stands prepared to respond to any request for assistance from a Cuba that transitions to democracy. The Castro regime's response to our offers has been continued repression of the Cuban people.
Throughout my presidency, the plight of Cuba has been close to my heart. My sincere wish has been for the proud people of Cuba to take their rightful place in the community of democratic, freedom-loving nations.
Laura and I send our Cuban hermanos y hermanas a message of peace and love. May God Bless you and continue to give you the faith and courage to fight for the day when the light of liberty will shine on the people of Cuba.
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