Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cuba 'less sure' after Obama overture: WHouse

April 24

Cuban leaders seem "a little less sure of themselves" after US President Barack Obama's lifted travel and money transfer restrictions on Cuban-Americans, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Gibbs was asked by reporters about Obama's reaction to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's remark in Cuban newspapers Wednesday that Obama had "misinterpreted" his brother Cuban President Raul Castro's words on possible changes for political prisoners and human rights in Cuba.

"It's a bit amusing that in order to keep what they have, the leadership in Cuba seems a little less sure of themselves based on some of the actions that the president took," Gibbs said.

"I don't see what that leadership has to fear with the travel of people -- of Cuban Americans back to Cuba or the sending of money or the transmission of words and signals over our airwaves," he added.

"And I think if the Cuban government is serious about reform, then they know the actions and the steps they should take," Gibbs said.

Obama said Raul Castro's talk offer was "a very welcome overture," but Fidel ruled out any prisoner release in Cuba and said Obama showed arrogance in dismissing his offer to exchange some political prisoners for five jailed Cuban spies.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said Fidel Castro's comments denoted some difference of opinion between the Castro brothers, showing that the communist regime was coming to an end.

"You can see there is beginning to be a debate, I mean this is a regime that is ending. It will end at some point," Clinton told lawmakers at a hearing in Washington.

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