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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.

___________

03-03-2015Involve the Cubans in the EU-Cuba-negotiation. By Antonio Rodiles and Erik Jennische.
02-03-2015Musings of a Blind Man (3). By Ángels Santiesteban from prison in Havana.
01-03-2015The Cuba Deal: How Raúl Castro Duped Obama. By Néstor T. Carbonell.
28-02-2015New Electoral Law: New Wine in Old Wineskins? By Miriam Celaya.
26-02-2015Venezuela Breaks Down in Tears. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
26-02-2015Are There Reasons to be Hopeful in Cuba? By Veronica Vega. HT.
25-02-2015Six Issues the U.S. Should Not Concede to Cuba During Normalization Talks. By Ana Quintana.
24-02-2015Venezuela and Cuba: Partners in repression. Washington Post Editorial.
23-02-2015Will 'Emperor' Maduro get New Clothes after All?  By VenEconomy. LAHT.
22-02-2015Courting the Castros. Washington Post editorial.
21-02-2015Maduro Does Not Know How to Govern. "I never thought I'd get to say this, but Venezuela is worse than Cuba." By Yoani Sánchez.
21-02-2015International SOS reports: Cuba is not the medical paradise advertised, but considered a high risk nation for visitors. By Noah Rothman.
21-02-2015Cuba's hidden tax on workers mocks socialist ideals. By Barry Wood.
20-02-2015Musings of a Blind Man (1) By Ángel Santiesteban from prison in Havana.
20-02-2015Not Gone with the Venezuelan Revolution. By VenEconomy. LAHT. 
20-02-2015Does the Venezuela Case Ring any Bells, Spain? By VenEconomy. LAHT.
17-02-2015Venezuela: Coup warning? By Gerver Torres. 14ymedio.
17-02-2015Cuba: My State of Conflict. By Elinor Robin. HP.
16-02-2015The Truth About Tourist Apartheid in Cuba. By Kim-Marie Evans.
15-02-2015Corruption, the Cancer of Cuban Public Transportation. By Ernesto Pérez Chang. Cubanet. 
15-02-2015In Cuba, prosperity will require changes to government Control. By Karen DeYoung.
14-02-2015Follow the Trail of Flour. By Orlando Palma. 14ymedio.
14-02-2015Negotiating with Machiavelli. By Reinaldo Escobar.
12-02-2015No cigar just yet: Many obstacles remain before complete normalization with Cuba. Reporter Mia Lobel. Audio.
11-02-2015Groups, States Supported by Cuba Continue to Spread Terror. By Daniel Wiser.
10-02-2015US-Funded News Station Wants to Bring Free Press to Cuba. But Raúl Castro Wants to Shut It Down. By Josh Siegel.
09-02-2015Can Democracy Be Negotiated in Cuba? By José Azel.
09-02-2015How much has the Cuban revolution cost the world? By Carlos Alberto Montanter.
08-02-2015More Questions than Answers at Cuba Hearings. By The Foreign Policy Initiative.
06-02-2015In Cuba, the importance of listening. By Mark P. Lagon.
04-02-2015What Will We Do With the Hope? By Yoani Sanchez.
03-02-2015U.S. outreach to Cuba opens fissures among dissidents. By Karen DeYoung.
01-02-2015Danilo Maldonado El Sexto from the Valle Grande prison: "I live happy because I live without fear." 14ymedio.
01-02-2015In defense of 'white and priviliged' Cuban-Americans. "Memo to Ms. Bardach:  Drop the race card". By Silvio Canto, Jr.
30-01-2015Do Obamas measures promote democratic change on the Island? By Antonio Rodiles.
28-01-2015The Power of Three Democratic Voices. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
27-01-20152015 Partial Elections: an Old Woman Wearing Rouge. By Miriam Celaya.
27-01-2015The Silence of Alan Gross. By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
27-01-2015Obama's Cuba Talks: Good for PR, Bad for Democracy. By Maria Teresa Romero.
26-01-2015Pardon or Parole? By Jorge Olivera Castillo. Cubalog.eu.
26-01-2015Fugitives facing U.S. fraud charges vulnerable under deal with Cuba. By David Adams.
26-01-2015A few 'problemas' with those U.S.-Cuba talks. By Silvio Canto, Jr.
25-01-2015Deciding the Future of Cuba. By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno.
25-01-2015US Officials Must Keep Their Eyes on the Prize in Cuba. By Rosa Maria Payá.
24-01-2015U.S.-Cuba Talks Recap: Castro Coerces, Obama Acquiesces. By Capitol Hill Cubans.
23-01-2015Senior Cuban Spies Leading "Normalization" Talks With US. By Chris Simmons.
21-01-2015Wrong Diagnosis, Remedies to Tackle the Venezuelan Crisis. By VenEconomy. LAHT.
21-01-2015Warning: The regime in Havana has prepared a new legal trap for Ángel. By the editor of Santiestebans blog. If it were up to them, theyd shoot me. By Ángel Santiesteban from prison in Jaimanita, Havana.
21-01-2015U.S. Sets a Goal in Cuba: Open Internet. By Kejal Vyas.
21-01-2015The State of Obamas Cuba Deal is Clearly Not Strong. By Capitol Hill Cubans.





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