October 24, 2007 / 10:08 PM / 10 years ago

Cuba accuses Bush of inciting violence with speech

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba on Wednesday accused U.S. President George W. Bush of encouraging violent uprising against its communist government with a speech in which Bush urged Cubans to push for democratic change.

“You will never force us to our knees,” Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said in response to Bush’s speech, which came 15 months after ailing leader Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother.

Bush said he would maintain sanctions against Cuba and called on Cuban military and police officers to join efforts to open Cuba to multi-party democracy, saying liberty was more important that stability.

Perez said that was an “invitation to violence” by Bush. “Cuba categorically rejects the stimulation of violence and the invocation of the use of force,” he said at a news conference.

Bush’s speech reflected frustration with his plan for “regime change” in Cuba as his presidential term nears its end, the minister said.

Perez called on the United States to stop interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs and lift the U.S. trade embargo and travel restrictions, which date from the early 1960s.

He said Bush had no moral authority to demand changes in Cuba after bloodshed in Iraq.

“You are not a liberator, Mr. Bush. You are a brutal repressor. Your government has invaded, massacred and tortured in the name of liberty,” Perez said.

He blamed “Bush tyranny” and not the American people for the U.S. government’s hostility toward Cuba. “The day is coming when they will be free of him,” he said.

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