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

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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.

___________

30-01-2015Do 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.
20-01-2015Talk to Cuba's democracy advocates. By Frank Calzon.
19-01-2015Gratitude. By Miriam Celaya.
19-01-2015Obama's Five Mistakes in His New Cuba Policy. By Carlos Alberto Montaner.
18-01-2015Tempting the Cuban Transition. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo at Northwestern University.
18-01-2015Personal Epitaph to Fidel Castro. by Jeovany Jimenez Vega.
18-01-2015Despite deal with Obama, Cuba still cracking down on dissidents. Orange County Register Editorial.
15-01-2015U.S.-Cuba Relations: a new beginning or much ado about nothing? By Jerry Haar.
15-01-2015What the Cuban Press Says and How it Says It. By Dariela Aquique.
14-01-2015Without Cuba. By Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.
14-01-2015I’m Happy. By Ángel Santiesteban-Prats from prison in Havana.
14-01-2015 And the Venezuelan Church has spoken! By VenEconomy. LAHT.
14-01-2015Besieged (Not Only by Water). By Jorge Olivera Castillo.
13-01-2015Venezuela: Of Line-Ups and Ministers. By Caridad. HT.
13-01-2015When Will Cubas Remaining Political Prisoners be Released? By Capitol Hill Cubans.
12-01-2015Havana's goals in US-Cuba normalization remain unclear. by Karen DeYoung.
11-01-2015Hope In Change Is Not a Valid Doctrine. By Sebastian Arcos. HP.
10-01-2015Free the (Forgotten) Cuban Five. By Cuba Archive.
10-01-2015Radio and TV Martí have roles to play as Cuba enters a new era. By A Ross Johnson and S Enders Wimbush. WP.
10-01-2015Cuba: The Empty Rostrum. by Irina Echarry. HT.
09-01-2015Cuba and Kristallnacht: the Lessons. By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison.
09-01-2015So we remember him? By Eliecer Ávila.
07-01-2015Cuba: More Political Prisoners, But the New U.S. Policy Marches Onward. by Elliott Abrams.
07-01-2015Different Disputes. By Fernando Damaso.
06-01-2015Hip-Hop in the Spotlight. By Fernando Dámaso.+ video examples.
05-01-2015Who and where are the 53 Cuban political prisoners that President Obama promised would be freed by Havana? By Anastasia O'Grady.
04-01-2015Nylons for nothing in Cuba. By Charles Krauthammer. WP.
04-01-2015Obama's Cuba opening hits early obstacles, faces struggle with Congress. By Roberta Rampton and Patricia Zengerle.
03-01-2015Repression in Cuba. Miami Herald Editorial.
03-01-2015In Cuba, harassment of U.S. diplomats even extends to their pets. Will that now change? By Joushua Partlow. WP.
02-01-2015For World's Democracy Campaigners, Obama's Cuba Move Means Crackdowns. IBD editorial.
02-01-2015With no consequences in sight, Cuba continues to crack down on free speech. Washington Post Editorial.
01-01-2015From Tatlin's Whisper to Tatlin's Cry. By Yoani Sánchez.
01-01-2015Cuba and the United States will resume their relations… alea jacta est. By Dr Joevany Jimenez Vega.
01-01-2015State Department on Cuban Repression: Speak Softly, Send Mixed Messages and Carry No Stick. By Capitol Hill Cubans.





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