WASHINGTON – President Bush has asked top advisers to make recommendations on how to bring about a democratic transition in Cuba (search), administration officials said Thursday.
Bush will unveil the plan at a White House ceremony Friday. "The president will talk about ways in which we can keep up the pressure on the Castro regime," one official said.
Supporters of the president's Cuba policy from the Congress and elsewhere will be briefed beforehand.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) was expected to be part of the team. The officials, asking not to be identified, declined further comment on the advisory group except to say that it will be small.
The administration has been signaling for weeks that new steps concerning Cuba were being planned.
Some of Castro's most ardent critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have criticized the administration for not doing more to bring about democratic change in Cuba.
Powell has been trying to enlist other nations in efforts to bring democracy to a country that has not had a free election since well before President Fidel Castro (search) assumed power in 1959.
In a June speech in Chile to Organization of American States foreign ministers, Powell asked his colleagues to help the United States find ways to "hasten the inevitable democratic transition in Cuba."
Castro has scoffed at the notion that Cuba needs a transition, contending that the island had one 44 years ago.
The head of Cuba's diplomatic mission here, Dagoberto Rodriguez, called on the Bush administration Thursday to "stop acting like a lawless cowboy" and "start listening to the voices of the nations of the world."
Speaking at a news conference, Rodriguez noted that the U.N. General Assembly each fall for 12 years has urged the United States to lift its trade embargo against Cuba. He said the General Assembly is expected to approve a similar measure next month.
Bush has said he will veto any measure approved by the Congress that calls for an easing of the embargo, which has been in effect for more than four decades.
Rodriguez also demanded that the administration "stop lying" about Cuba "just to please a small minority of extremists," a reference to the Cuban-American community in South Florida.