Bush lauds Cuban citizens, derides Castro

May 21, 2008 at 11:55 AM

WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush derided Raul Castro's reforms in Cuba Wednesday, saying if the regime were serious, it would initiate meaningful actions.

Addressing a Washington gathering recognizing the United States' solidarity with Cuba's people, Bush called the reforms announced the Cuban president -- such as allowing Cubans to use mobile phones, have access to computers and be able to buy toasters and other appliances in two years -- "the height of hypocrisy" because they lack real change.

If Cubans can be trusted with mobile phones, Bush said, "they should be trusted to speak freely in public."

Concerning the regime's signing a United Nations treaty on human rights, Bush said Raul Castro -- who took over running the country from his brother Fidel earlier this year -- "hasn't even attempted cosmetic changes."

The document is "a worthless piece of paper," unless Castro stops the "abuse of political dissidents and (releases) all political prisoners," Bush said.

"America refuses to be deceived and so do the Cuban people," he said.

Bush recognized several members of his cabinet and Congress, speaking in Spanish during some introductions.

Directing remarks to potential listeners in Cuba, Bush said, "All things are possible in a free society."

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