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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 28, 1997

The following is the President's preface to the report in Support for a Democratic Transition in Cuba:

The promotion of democracy abroad is one of the primary foreign policy objectives of my Administration. These efforts reflect our ideals and reinforce our interests -- preserving America's security and enhancing our prosperity. Democracies are less likely to go to war with one another or to abuse the rights of their peoples. They make for better trading partners. And each one is a potential ally in the struggle against the forces of hatred and intolerance, whether rogue nations, those who foment ethnic and religious hatred, or terrorists who traffic in weapons of mass destruction.

Today, freedom's reach is broader than ever. For the first time in history, two thirds of all nations have governments elected by their own people. As newly democratic nations have left the dark years of authoritarian government behind, millions of their citizens around the world have begun to experience the political and economic freedoms that they were so long and so wrongfully denied.

Creating open societies and democratic institutions and building free markets are major tasks that call for courage and commitment. To face these challenges, many democratizing and newly democratic governments have turned to developed democratic nations and international institutions for assistance and support. The United States has been at the forefront of these efforts, lending help in numerous areas in which we have long experience -- for example, building democratic institutions and the institutions of a market economy, and protecting human rights through an effective and impartial justice system.

Cubans, like the other peoples of this hemisphere, of Eastern Europe, and of the former Soviet Union, desire to be free. The United States is committed to help the Cuban people in a transition to democracy. We will continue working with others in the international community who share our desire to welcome Cuba into the ranks of prosperous democratic nations, where it will proudly join the other thirty-four countries in this hemisphere.

This document outlines the assistance that a democratizing Cuba is likely to seek during its transition, and the ways in which the United States and the international community will try to help. It draws from the experiences of other countries that have embarked upon similar transitions and highlights some of the lessons learned from those processes. It is my sincere hope that it will contribute to a better understanding of the international community's potential role in a transition to democracy and underscore the strong commitment of the American people to support the Cuban people when they embark upon that process of change.


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