US convenes anti-Castro panel

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chaired the second session of a panel to "hasten and ease a democratic transition" in Cuba and spoke of bringing about change partly by denying the Cuban government money and supplying the Cuban people information. Official US policy is to undermine Cuba's planned succession from President Fidel Castro, 79 and apparently ailing, to his 74-year-old brother, Raul. It has been left unclear how to bring about that, although Cuba has been under an economic embargo from the United States since 1961, two years after Castro took power. President George W. Bush appointed the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba in late 2003 under the leadership of Rice's predecessor, Colin Powell, and received its first recommendations in May 2004.