News and Facts about Cuba

Cuba’s changes are no more than window-dressing

Cuba’s changes are no more than window-dressing
By Editorial Board, Monday, February 17, 1:43 AM

ONE OF the very small openings permitted in the past year by Cuba’s
rulers, Raul and , has been a relaxation of
restrictions so dissidents can leave the island and bring firsthand
accounts of their work to Europe, the United States and Latin America.
When we met not long ago with Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez,
who spent 17 years in Cuba’s prisons, he spoke freely of the need for
radical change in Cuba.

Antúnez is a leading Afro-Cuban and voice for democracy and
change. “Castro’s totalitarianism cannot be reformed,” he told us. “With
totalitarians, you do not negotiate. Rapprochement only strengthens the
dictatorship. We want to be totally free — we don’t want to accept it
piecemeal. We want a democracy that we deserve.” He added, “I won’t be
silent. I won’t leave.”

Since his return to the island in December, Antúnez has been trying to
organize opposition to the Castro regime. On Feb. 5, the regime struck
back. The security forces arrived at his house in the town of Placetas
in the central province of Villa Clara and painted over anti-government
statements that dissidents had scrawled there. He was detained for nine
hours, computers and other materials were seized from the house, and his
wife also was detained when she and other activists went to a
station to demand his . All were later released. Antúnez went on
a hunger strike Feb. 10 in protest of his treatment.

Attacks, harassment and detentions are a day-to-day reality for Cuba’s
dissidents, and they speak volumes about what kind of regime the Castro
brothers preside over. Minuscule movements toward economic
liberalization should not convince anyone that the brothers have decided
to relax their grip. To the contrary, they are looking desperately for
ways to hang on to power.

The Associated Press announced last week that seven photographs of Fidel
Castro were being removed from its archive. The photos were distributed
by a government entity during the recent Latin America and Caribbean
summit in Havana, a shameful look-the-other-way exercise by hemispheric
leaders. The AP, which retransmitted the photos, found upon close
examination that they had been digitally altered — the modern day
version of Stalinist airbrushing — to remove what appears to be a
hearing aid in Fidel Castro’s ear.

With or without his hearing aid, we doubt that either Fidel Castro or
his brother Raul, the current , is listening to those who
demand freedom and democracy. We know there are strong desires by some
in the United States to normalize relations with Cuba after a
half-­century of stalemate. A new Atlantic Council poll underscores the
sentiment. Understandably, there is impatience — including in the Cuban
diaspora — for change. But the harassment of Antúnez suggests once again
that the Castro brothers do not intend to change. They should not be
rewarded or fortified, not as long as Antúnez and other dissidents
suffer. We share Antúnez’s vision of a Cuba that is really free — and
not just airbrushed to make the regime look better.

Source: Cuba’s changes are no more than window-dressing – The Washington
Post –

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