President Bush accused Cuba's Fidel Castro on Friday of welcoming sex tourism and contributing to a global problem of human trafficking, as he courted Cuban voters in Florida, a pivotal state in the election.

"The regime of Fidel Castro has turned Cuba into a major destination for sex tourism," Bush said, adding that the Cuban president "welcomes sex tourism" as a source of hard currency for his government.

Addressing a conference on human trafficking, Bush quoted Castro as saying that prostitutes in Havana were the cleanest and best educated in the world.

Bush said that comment was evidence that Havana was encouraging sex tourism. Castro praised Cuban prostitutes for having a college education in a documentary interview by the U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone.

Cuba's government, born of a revolution against a corrupt U.S.-backed dictatorship that allowed Mafia-run gaming and prostitution to thrive in Havana in the 1950's, strongly denies tolerating sex tourism. Police have cracked down on the trade.

The Department of Justice-organized conference was aimed at touting the administration's efforts to crack down on the trafficking of people across borders for forced labor such as prostitution and sweatshop work.§ion=news

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