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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.

___________

05-05-2015We hope that the Pope can help us to close the chapter of criminalization of dissent, to put an end to political imprisonment and to the shameful acts of repudiation. By Yoani Sanchez.
04-05-2015China and Cuba: A brief shared history. By Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter.
03-05-2015Cuba and the difficult change ahead. By Abdulrahman al-Rashed.
03-05-2015A Flooded May Day in Havana. By Yoani Sanchez.
01-05-2015Eduardo Galeanos Last Embrace. By Ángel Santiesteban from prison in Havana. 
01-05-2015The Magicians of Empty Text. By Ángel Santiesteban from prison in Havana.
30-04-2015Clandestine Arms Shipment Arrives in Cuba. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
28-04-2015The Internet: A Space for Diversity and Freedom of Expression. By Ernesto Pérez Chang. Cubanet.
28-04-2015Take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism List? By George Phillips.
27-04-2015Pope Francis will have unusual clout in Cuba. By Andres Oppenheimer. MH.
27-04-2015May Day in Cuba and an Offended Journalist. By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno. HT.
26-04-2015Raul Castro and the 'Cargo Cult'. By José Azel.
25-04-2015The Bullies That Castro Sent to Panama. By Ángel Santiesteban Prats from prison in Havana.
24-04-2015Maduro's "Plan for the Economic Counteroffensive" to do Nothing for Venezuela's Battered Economy. By VenEconomy.
22-04-2015Obama Tries to Put a New Collar on the Same Dog. By Ángel Santiesteban-Prats from prison in Havana.
22-04-2015Liberty before profit for Cuba. By Tom Wrobleski.  
21-04-2015In the elections held for the Municipal Assemblies more than 1.7 million people didn't vote, annulled their ballot, or left it blank. A force for change. By Yoani Sanchez.
21-04-2015The vote of inertia. By Eliecer Ávila. 14ymedio.
20-04-2015My Political Stance. By Verónica Vega. HT.
20-04-2015Who Are the "Rich Cubans" ? By Miriam Celaya.
19-04-2015Where Does U.S. Policy Toward Cuba Go From Here? By José Cardenas.
18-04-2015A Million Fines for May Day? The Ups and Downs of Self-Employment in Cuba. By Alejandro Rodríguez Rodriguez. HT/Café Fuerte.
18-04-2015The Un-Mannered Summit. By Beatrice E. Rangel. LAHT.
18-04-2015Obama Is Using Cuba To Counter Russia, Iran, And China's Growing Influence In Latin America. By Andrés Serbin and Andrei Serbin Pont.
17-04-2015Cuba and Terrorism. By Elliott Abrams.
17-04-2015"We need the bike taxi to survive, but licenses are no longer granted or renewed." By Frank Correa.
16-04-2015Raúl Castro, what are you plotting? By the Editor of Ángel Santiesteban's blog.
16-04-2015The Latin-America I Acknowlege. By Miriam Celaya.
16-04-2015Obama's Wrong: Cuba Belongs on the Terrorism List. By Joseph Humire.
15-04-2015Speaking of Legitimacy. By Fernando Damaso.
15-04-2015Is Cuba ready to come in from the cold? By Robin Guittard, Amnesty International.
15-04-2015Statement on Obamas Removal of Cuba From the Terrorism List. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
13-04-2015And So It Begins, For Cuba's Civil Society. By Carmen Pelaez.
13-04-2015Hysteria in Panama. By Fernando Damaso.
13-04-2015Ask the People. By Rosa Maria Payá.
12-04-2015Cuban 'Festival' in Panama: Representatives of the Cuban regime shed their lamb skins and turned into a real pack of wolves. By Fernando Dámaso. + video.
10-04-2015Cuban pro-freedom resistance needs U.S. support. By Christy Stutzman.
08-04-2015Mr. Obama's opportunity in Panama. Editorial The Washington Post.
07-04-2015Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and Citizen Participation. By Martha Beatriz Roque. Cubanet.
07-04-2015Dialogue or Monologue. By Fernando Dámaso.
07-04-2015Cuba Props Up Venezuelan Strongman. By Matias Ilivitzky.
06-04-2015Obama Rehabilitates the Castro Brothers. By Mary Anastasia O'Grady. WSJ.
03-04-2015Diplomacy, yes. Democracy, what for? By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
02-04-2015Since the Mariel Exodus the state terrorist 'acts of repudiation' are still practiced, especially against the Ladies in White and UNPACU. By Roberto Jesus Quinones.
01-04-2015The Curse of the Cursed. By Yoani Sánchez.
31-03-2015Cuba Reserved Its Telecommunications Industry for the United States. By Isbel Diaz Torres. HT.
31-03-2015Cuba Flips the Script on Obama -- Again. Capitol Hill Cubans.
30-03-2015In Venezuela Elections, Too Many Dead Vote. By Andres Oppenheimer. LAHT.
29-03-2015Those Who Are Leaving Venezuela. By Caridad. HT.
29-03-2015Liberated Cuban prisoners to Obama: No more deals like the one that freed us! By Patrick Symmes.





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