HAVANA – America's chief diplomat in Havana issued a statement Friday to emphasize that no U.S. military action is planned against Cuba.
The statement by James Cason, chief of the U.S. Interests Section (search), was distributed to international journalists in Cuba one week after President Fidel Castro (search) challenged President Bush to be clear about how Washington plans to realize a transition to democracy on the island.
For nearly a year, Castro and other officials have publicly expressed concerns that the U.S. military could attack the communist nation.
In a public speech, Castro wondered aloud if Washington was planning to kill him. Last month, Castro directly accused Bush of plotting with Cuban exiles in Miami to assassinate him.
U.S. officials talk about a transition, "but how would they make this transition?" Castro asked in his Feb. 15 speech, suggesting that "the only way is to proceed with an illegal assassination using the scores of techniques they have available."
In his statement, Cason said that President Bush has repeatedly emphasized that Washington seeks a peaceful transition to democracy to Cuba brought about by Cubans.
He also quoted Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) as saying last spring that Washington did not need to take military action against Cuba, because Castro's regime was "an anachronism and would eventually fall of its own weight."
Cason said the Cuban government was "fabricating the threat of a U.S. military attack to engender fear in the Cuban population, to spend scarce resources to maintain large military, security and intelligence structures, and to justify extreme measures in a vain attempt to crush Cuba's nascent independent civil society."