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Cuba: Clintons comments on Castros cynical

HAVANA – Cuban state media dismissed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as a cynic Monday for her assertion that Fidel and Raul Castro don’t want Washington’s 48-year embargo lifted because they would no longer be able to blame America for their country’s problems.

Clinton’s comment last week “mixed ignorance and falsehoods at an infinite level,” said state-run Radio Reloj.

“If cynicism needed an expression that would immortalize it, the American secretary of state gave it,” the station said in a report read over the air and posted on its Web site.

Clinton’s remarks also appeared without further commentary on Cubadebate, the government Internet site where Fidel publishes frequent opinion pieces. Fidel dropped out of public view after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006, and his brother Raul has since taken over the presidency.

Following a speech on nuclear terrorism at the University of Louisville on Friday, Clinton said, “It is my personal belief that the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years.”

Cuban officials ranking high and low routinely fault the embargo for the vast majority of daily difficulties on the island – from shortages of housing, food and domestic goods to severely limited Internet access and spotty public transportation.

The communist government says the U.S. policy, which took its current form in 1962 and chokes off trade between both countries – with some exceptions for food and agricultural goods – has cost it at least $96 billion to date.

Clinton said Cuba should be given an opportunity for a transition to full democracy, but that may not happen anytime soon under an “intransigent, entrenched regime.”

Whenever it looks like normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations could be a possibility, she added, “the Castro regime does something to try to stymie it.”

The Obama administration says it has worked to thaw nearly a half-century of ice-cold U.S. relations with Cuba in a number of ways.