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Bush Administration Says Cuba Government Getting Tougher, Nearing Its End

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Repression is increasing in Cuba under the control of Raul Castro, and the domination of the government by his brother, Fidel, is nearing an end, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.

``In Cuba, this year will mark the end of the long domination of that country by Fidel Castro,'' Mike McConnell, the nation's new spy chief, told Congress.

McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee that significant positive change immediately after Fidel Castro's death was unlikely. He said Raul Castro has had the opportunity to solidify his control in the seven months since his brother's incapacitating illness.

Separately, the Bush administration official who oversees a White House effort to promote transition to democracy in Cuba said he has seen no indication that the government is getting ready to make any changes.

``What has increased is repression,'' Caleb Charles McCarry said at a seminar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Security forces have stepped up harassment of dissidents and have kept closer track of reporters since Fidel Castro transferred control of Cuba's government to his brother after undergoing intestinal surgery last July, the U.S. official said.

McCarry said the White House Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba does ``what it can to hasten the day when they can enjoy freedom again.''

He spoke primarily of broadcasts to Cuba and expressions of support for human rights, and said that only peaceful means are used by the United States.

On the job since July 2005, McCarry dismissed any suggestion of U.S. dialogue with Cuba to prepare for transition to democracy. ``The dialogue that needs to take place is between Cuban authorities and the Cuban people,'' he said.

The fall of Castro's 48-year-old government long has been predicted by U.S. officials since the 1959 revolution on the island.
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