Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who has rebounded in recent voter surveys, promised Sunday that if he wins the U.S. presidency in November he will seek a peaceful end to the Castro dictatorship in Cuba.
Gingrich made his remarks on Cuba in a communique in English and Spanish released by his campaign in response to the death of Cuban dissident Wilman Villar last Thursday.
The 31-year-old Villar had been sentenced in November to four years behind bars for disrespecting authority and resisting arrest. He died on Thursday after a 50-day hunger strike, according to Cuban dissident sources, who blamed the island's communist government for the "avoidable" death.
Villar's death, Gingrich said, is one more reminder of the nature of the "illegitimate" regime of the Castro brothers.
Villar joins the "long list of martyrs" who have paid the ultimate price for the freedom of their nations, Gingrich said.
The former House speaker, who handily won the South Carolina Republic primary on the weekend, said that the aim of his administration, if he wins the national election in November, will be for the free Cuban people and their free government to join the United States in supporting democracy throughout the Americas.
To do that, it is necessary to bring "real change" and conservative leadership to Washington, said Gingrich, one of four Republican candidates hoping to win their party's presidential nomination to go up against and defeat President Barack Obama in the Nov. 6 election.
Gingrich, who led the House from 1995-1999, accused the president of not wanting to "tell the truth" about the threats facing the United States, including the danger to freedom in the Western Hemisphere.
The former Georgia congressman called Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Fidel and Raul Castro "tyrants," adding that they are cooperating more and more closely with the foreign enemies of the United States at the same time that they are undermining responsible governments in the Americas.
Also, Gingrich reiterated the Republican complaint that Obama is apologizing in the name of the United States for his foreign policy and, by doing so, he has alienated the pro-U.S. governments and leaders in the Americas, taking the side of the allies of Chavez and other leftists.
Obama's "weakness" is provocative, said Gingrich, insisting that the United States must unequivocally and without apology come down on the side of freedom for the Cuban people.
According to Gingrich, instead of "embracing dictators and rejecting allies," as he says Obama has done, the United States must radically reform its foreign policy to make "life more difficult" for those who "hate the United States."
Another Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, also reacted to Villar's death with a similar tone, blaming the Castro regime for his death.
Those who believe in freedom and value democracy must tell Villar's story and denounce the injustices and cruelties of the "Castro tyranny," said Romney in a communique.
Romney, who has secured the backing of Cuban-American Republican lawmakers from Florida, went on to say that "Cuba will be free" through the courage and sacrifice of dissidents like Villar.
Before the South Carolina primary, both Romney and Gingrich traveled to Florida to court the Hispanic vote, in particular that of Cuban-Americans, with an eye toward the "Sunshine State's" Jan. 31 Republican primary.