Skip to comments.Cuba's Spring
Posted on 03/24/2004 10:40:23 PM PST by Ooh-Ah
A YEAR AGO Cuba's Communist government cracked down on nonviolent dissidents, independent journalists, human rights activists, librarians and teachers. Within weeks, 75 of them were in prison, sentenced to terms ranging from 6 to 28 years after one-day closed trials. Carried out while the world's attention was focused on the war in Iraq, this was President Fidel Castro's attempt to destroy a pro-democracy civil society that had been peacefully emerging. A year later, the bad news is that those 75 political prisoners are still locked away, in many cases under inhumane conditions. The worse news is that Mr. Castro has gotten away with his crime: He has set back the cause of freedom in Cuba, and suffered few consequences.
True, the Bush administration reacted to the arrests last year by tightening some sanctions on Cuba -- cheap toughness from an administration eager to please the Cuban exile community in Florida. But Congress sent the opposite message, voting to end enforcement of a travel ban. The European Union adopted some token sanctions. But European trade and tourists continue to provide the hard currency that props up Mr. Castro's regime. More help has come from Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, a Castro wannabe who supplies his mentor with oil on sweetheart terms. Irresponsible populists elsewhere in Latin America, such as Argentina's Nestor Kirchner, have courted the dictator; when the Argentine foreign minister visited Havana, he declined to meet with spouses of the imprisoned democrats.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
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