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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 20, 1998
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

THE PRESIDENT: I want to say hello to all listeners of Radio Marti. On behalf of the people of the United States I offer you warmest wishes on this Cuban Independence Day.

The United States is determined to help Cuba achieve a peaceful transition to democracy. And as part of our effort, I announced in March that the U.S. would permit direct humanitarian flights, transfers of money from families in the United States to relatives in Cuba, and streamline procedures for the sale of medicines to your country.

These steps are aimed at building on Pope John Paul's historic visit to Cuba, increasing humanitarian relief and supporting the role of the Church and other elements of civil society. We're committed to helping Cuba's courageous democracy and human rights advocates as they work for a brighter future. We continue to be concerned about those who languish in Cuban jails. We urge the Cuban government to release all political prisoners and reintegrate them into Cuban society.

Cubans will never be free until Cubans are free to speak out and organize for fundamental change. We send you a message of hope; we must work together to promote freedom in the only country in our hemisphere which does not yet enjoy it. I believe the Cuban people want democracy and that they will relish it and prosper in every realm -- political, economic, and cultural -- once they are free.

Before I sign off, let me congratulate the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, home to Radio and TV Marti, as it begins broadcasting from its new headquarters in Miami today. Here, closer to their listeners, Radio and TV Marti will continue to bring information, hope and encouragement to the people of Cuba.

My best wishes to all of you, and thank you for listening.