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How to achieve real political reform in Cuba. By Ray Walser.
  
18-05-2012

web/folder.asp?folderID=215

How to achieve real political reform in Cuba

BY RAY WALSER 

Miami Herald

May 18, 2012


 
What’s the best way to mark the fifth annual Cuba Solidarity Day? If we want to help the long-suffering people of Fidel Castro’s island “paradise,” the answer should be obvious: Shine a light on the repression and tyranny that makes daily life there such a grinding ordeal. Show unflinching support for dissidents and advocates of non-violent change on the island.

That’s what the George W. Bush administration did on the first Cuba Solidarity Day, May 20, 2008. Worldwide efforts focused on political prisoners and the demands for progress and democratic change. That first Solidarity Day attempted to look below the decks of the Cuban ship, boring down to the unrest and unhappiness on the galley-level.

But there’s another school of thought on how best to mark this day — one that encourages “engagement” and leans more on diplomacy than accountability.

Today, thanks to the Obama administration, as well as left-leaning think tanks in Washington and New York, an effort is underway to steer an opposite course — one that moves, incredibly enough, closer to cooperation with the Castro regime. Tossed overboard are demands for human rights, freedom and dignity for Cubans. In their place: the siren song of tourism partnerships and exchanges of academics and musicians.

A fresh wave of Cubans is disembarking on and around May 20 to participate in Cuba’s latest charm offensive. The capstone visit for this round features Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Raul Castro and an activist for gay and lesbian rights, at the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco. She will be received with acclaim as a voice of progressive tolerance on issues of individual sexual preference.

The objective of these latest Cuban visitors — salaried employees and privileged members of the regime — is to convince ordinary Americans that Cuba is already on a course to better days. We’re to believe that major economic change is underway, and that small portions of “democratic space,” as the Obama administration fondly refers to it, are being carved out.

The ultimate goal of spokespersons such as Mariela Castro is relatively simple: Win the coveted U.S. imprimatur of acceptance for Cuban-style, post-Castro socialism, and smooth the way for full diplomatic recognition. The eventual goal, of course, is to bring down the 1996 Helms-Burton Act and with it the trade embargo. That way, the fabled Castro Revolution may continue on a course of channeled change, with a succession of next-generation party apparatchiks, bureaucrats and military leaders fully in control in the wheelhouse.

Yet, as the Bush administration knew, and the Obama administration seems to forget, authentic change in Cuba requires far more than institutional tinkering and piecemeal economic reform or the creation of manufactured “democratic space.” It means taking these five fundamental steps toward authentic political reform:
• Recognition of the right to independent political parties to exist legally and operate freely.
• Free and fair elections.
• Genuine freedom of expression, including unfiltered access to the Internet.
• Freedom of association for civil society, private enterprise and organized labor.
• Genuine rule of law and human rights standards, which include the release of all remaining political prisoners.
Nothing more — and nothing less — will do.

The first step to real solidarity with the Cuban people is to correct an erroneous impression that the hired guns and apologists for the Castro regime who ride in first class cabins speak for all Cubans. Time for truth in advertising! They represent the Castro regime. They speak for the power elite in Havana. And they have clearly in view a succession scenario, or “soft landing,” for the post-Castro era.
On May 20, those interested in the future of U.S.-Cuba relations, and authentic liberty on the island, need to remember that the authentic voices of change are far more likely to be found below decks in Cuba’s permanent steerage class. Here you find the people barred from traveling. Here are the ones with limited access to the outside world. Here are the ones constantly harassed and threatened, left in jail and treated as enemies of the state.

It’s a difficult course to steer, but it’s the only one that will effect change. Solidarity with Cuba’s people begins below decks, not in luxury cabins with ocean views.

Ray Walser, a veteran Foreign Service officer, is a senior policy analyst specializing in Latin America at The Heritage Foundation.

___________

30-07-2014A morning at the Courthouse. By Rebeca Monzo.
30-07-2014Leopoldo Lopez and Angel Santiesteban: Two Lives and One Destiny. By the Editor of Santiesteban's blog.
27-07-2014A Hilarious Conclusion. By Fernando Dámaso.
26-07-2014Completely dismantled, the farce against Angel Santiesteban continues in an unknown location.
22-07-2014Oswaldo Payás death in Cuba two years ago still awaits a proper investigation. Washington Post Editorial.
22-07-2014The Battered Press. By Fernando Dámaso.
21-07-2014Leopoldo Lopez's jailing is a symptom of a sick Venezuela. By Lilian Tintori. WP.
20-07-2014Oswaldo's and Harold's Nonviolent Legacy in Cuba: Demonstrating Love is Stronger than Hate. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
20-07-2014Russia-Cuba love affair on again. By Juan O. Tamayo.
19-07-2014The New Robin Hoods. By Ángel Santiesteban.
14-07-2014Man accuses Cuban agents of insidious, 'psychological' intimidation. By Juan O. Tamayo.
13-07-2014Twenty years of impunity in the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre. By John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.  
12-07-2014The Massacre in Canimar River: 34th Anniversary. By Enrisco.
12-07-2014The Tribal Unity of the Dissenters. By Ángel Santiesteban. 
11-07-2014What fate awaits Cubans if Cuba and the U.S. normalize relations? By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
08-07-2014Ghost of Hugo Chávez stalks Spain. By Carlos Alberto Montaner.
08-07-2014I Would Not Accept Trading My Freedom For That of the Spies. By Ángel Santiesteban.
07-07-2014Response to my Blog Readers. By Ángel Santiesteban.
07-07-2014Che's Battle Comrade Becomes Maduro's New Economic Adviser. Cuba's Dominance over Venezuela Out in the Open for All to See. By Marcela Estrada.
04-07-2014The Curtain Falls, Lies Are Exposed. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
04-07-2014Should American Taxpayers Fund Cuba's Media? By Humberto Fontova.
03-07-2014Still no justice for 37 "13 de Marzo" tugboat victims 20 years later: A Call to Remember and Take Action. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
01-07-2014The Party and the Army: Civil-Military Relations in Cuba. By William M. LeoGrande.
01-07-2014Does the Venezuelan Revolution Even Care? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
30-06-2014Children Screaming. By Armando Anel, Luis Felipe Rojas.
30-06-2014Lift the embargo – but liberate Cuba first. By Jeff Jacoby.
23-06-2014While most protests in Venezuela have been held by students so far this year, other sectors are rising up over major grievances. A total 8,526 is the number of reported protest events in 18 months. By Francisco Olivares.
23-06-2014Arnaldo Ochoa - a problem for Castro brothers 25 years ago.
20-06-2014Venezuela President Ousts Long-Time Leftist Economy Planner. By Kejal Vyas. WSJ. /Giordani's removal from office unveils crisis in public administration. By Víctor Salmerón. EU.
19-06-2014Talk of lifting Cuba embargo brings memories of brutality. By Guillermo Martínez.
18-06-2014Myths About U.S. Policy Toward Cuba. By Jaime Suchlicki.
18-06-2014Venezuela: Tales of Presidential Assassinations, Tough Nuts to Crack. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
17-06-2014The New Man in Cuba in Search of Anabolic Steroids. By Juan Juan Almeida. 
17-06-2014Cuba clamps down on Wi-Fi networks. By Juan O. Tamayo.
15-06-2014Fidel Castro's Undesirables. By Ivan García.
15-06-2014A Permissable Violation . By Fernando Damaso.
15-06-2014Being In Prison is Worth It. By Ángel Santiesteban.
15-06-2014Canadian fears foregone verdict in Cuban Court. By Kim Mackrael. 
13-06-2014A Barbaric Onslaught against TalCual. By TalCual. LAHT.
12-06-2014Travelling by Tram. By Fernando Damaso. + historic video.
12-06-2014Public Health In Cuba, Between Missions, Rabies and Dengue Fever.
11-06-2014Venezuela: Culpable Silence. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
09-06-2014Forbidden Magazines for Cuba's Higher-Ups. By Martin Guevara.
07-06-2014Cuba and the Perversion of Language. By Alejandro Armengol.
07-06-2014Report: Venezuela, Cuba Providing Easy Access for Islamists to US and Canada. By Frances Martel.
05-06-2014Lies and Deceptions of a Revolution. By Tania Diaz Castro. 
05-06-2014Colombia's challenger vows hard line on Venezuela.By Andres Oppenheimer.
04-06-2014Repression Up As Flood Of Cash Inundates Cuba. Editorial by Investors Business Daily.
03-06-2014Foreign Investors Won't Liberate Cuba. By Mary Anastasia O'Grady.
02-06-2014Radio Marti's Listeners on the Central Committee of the PCC. By Juan Juan Almeida.




 
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