Lieberman Urges Bush to Pressure Cuba

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In a live broadcast to Cuba, Democratic candidate for president Joe Lieberman (search) urged the Bush administration Thursday to ratchet up the pressure on Fidel Castro's (search) communist government and help the island nation's dissidents.

The senator from Connecticut called on Bush in an interview with Radio Marti (search) "to be very aggressive" in implementing the policies the president outlined in a May 2002 speech to provide American aid for the development of civil society in Cuba (search).

"And what does that mean? Specific support for the dissidents, the freedom fighters in Cuba and not stepping back at all in our position that we will not rest until this regime falls and the Cuban people rise to enjoy their freedom," Lieberman said in a brief interview on the federally funded, pro-democracy broadcasting station that beams into Cuba.

Lieberman told listeners in Spanish, "I have always fought for a free Cuba."

In response to reporters, Lieberman criticized the Bush administration's follow through on the 2002 speech. "There has been not adequate support particularly of the creation of civil society in Cuba and not adequate support of the dissidents," Lieberman said.

A White House spokesman did not immediately return a phone call.

In recent weeks, the Cuban government has executed three men convicted of terrorism in the attempted hijacking of a ferry filled with passengers bound for the United States. There were no injuries on board. Cuban prosecutors have also convicted 75 dissidents and imposed sentences from six years to 28 years.

Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate, voted for the 1996 Helms-Burton Act (search) that tightened the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

Cuban-Americans tend to vote Republican in state and national elections and have been active supporters of President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.