October 12, 2007 / 9:11 PM / 10 years ago

Bush again calls Castro 'cruel dictator'

U.S. President George W. Bush speaks about U.S. trade policy during his visit to Miami, Florida, October 12, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

MIAMI (Reuters) - President George W. Bush called Cuban leader Fidel Castro a “cruel dictator” again on Friday, apparently unconcerned that the same comment angered Cuban officials at the United Nations last month.

Speaking about trade in Miami, a city where Cuban-Americans harbor strong anti-Castro feelings, Bush drew a standing ovation from the audience with his Castro criticism.

“In Havana, the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing an end,” Bush said. Similar words in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in September prompted Cuba’s foreign minister to walk out in protest.

It was an apparent reference to Castro’s illness, which forced the Cuban leader to hand over power to his brother last year.

“As Cuba enters a period of transition, nations throughout the hemisphere and the world must insist on free speech, free assembly,” Bush said.

“They must insist that the prisoners in Cuba be free, and ultimately we must insist on free and competitive elections.”

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