Posted 03/25/2010 08:07 PM ET
Tyranny: The death of a dissident on a hunger strike last month is still
sending shock waves to Cuba's regime. Cuba's global support is falling
away — and President Obama's surprise slam at Havana is one of many.
It may be the end of the Cuban regime, but something changed when
Orlando Tamayo Zapata, a political prisoner, died in a hunger strike
last month. Tamayo, a construction worker, was arrested in the 2003
"Black Spring" wave of arrests against 75 democracy activists, drawing a
sentence of 25 years. His hunger strike called attention to the plight
of Cuba's political prisoners.
When the Castro regime let him die, they assumed that his demise was the
end of it and he'd be forgotten, same as all the others.
But it didn't happen that way. Inside Cuba, other dissidents began
hunger strikes. The Castroites also beat up dissident wives known as
Ladies in White, who marched to protest the arrests of the 75.
There are signs that the regime is running scared since the death, but
the biggest impact seems to be coming from abroad.
Outgoing President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica unexpectedly lashed out
first against Tamayo's death. Brazil's center-right opposition, in the
heat of a coming election, blasted Brazil's outgoing president, Luis
Inacio Lula da Silva, for backslapping with the Castro brothers in
Havana the day the dissident died. Opposition politicians in Spain and
Argentina also criticized their own governments for aiding the regime.
And in Spain, a poll by Elcano Royal Institute released Thursday showed
that 72% of Spaniards believe there's not enough international human
rights pressure on Cuba.
Another blow came Monday, when Chilean President Sebastian Pinera
declared: "My government will do whatever it can to re-establish
democracy in Cuba."
Even more striking, Chile's opposition socialist parties condemned for
the first time Cuba's treatment of its political prisoners. In the past,
the socialists had always looked the other way.
Now the cultural establishment is stepping up: Prominent entertainers
like actor Andy Garcia, singer Gloria Estefan, actress Maria Conchita
Alonso and others are leading rallies and showing films that are
critical of the Castro regime.
Chilean novelist Isabel Allende appealed for the release of the
political prisoners. In Spain, film director Pedro Almodovar and
novelist Mario Vargas Llosa wrote an open letter to Castro called "I
accuse the Cuban government."
In light of this, President Obama's added voice to growing global calls
for human rights in Cuba is powerful, even if it's just following the
crowd. It means that the international apologists on the left who've
justified Castro over the years are growing scarce, leaving Castro's
regime isolated — and perhaps answerable for its crimes.
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