Saturday, July 31, 2010

Havana remains entrenched in Cold War, push for change must come from the outside

Havana remains entrenched in Cold War, push for change must come from
the outside
Story posted 2010.07.31 at 03:02 AM EDT

Yes, by all means, take your time. What's the hurry? After 50 years, why
should Cuba rush to make any reforms?

The economic situation in Cuba remains desperate. Popular sentiment for
reform is widespread. And the world has spent the past few months
condemning the regime's callous treatment of political prisoners.

In his July 26 speech, however, Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado
Ventura made clear neither he nor the Cuban leadership are in any hurry
to make any cambios . "We will proceed, step by step, at the rhythm we
determine, without improvisations or haste so as not to make mistakes,"
said Machado Ventura, 79, echoing what we've repeatedly heard from the
other septugenarians and octogenarians running Cuba.

One wonders whether the Cuban Revolution would have been victorious if
it had been fought with the same stale, risk-aversive and uninspired way
the revolutionaries govern today. It wouldn't have, but then again, the
Castro-led regime isn't interested in governing, just holding their grip
on power.

So don't look for any meaningful changes from Havana, other than
"freeing" political prisoners by jettisoning them to other countries.
Mind you, these are individuals that should never have been jailed in
the first place.

Faced with such intransigence, it's clear to anyone no longer living in
the mid-20th century that a break in the Cuba logjam must come from the
outside. Fortunately, some U.S. lawmakers in Congress are pushing to end
the counterproductive ban on travel to Cuba. Lifting the prohibition on
travel to the island would do much to promote democratic efforts in Cuba.

Why? For starters, it would put more dollars directly into the hands of
the Cuban population, making them less dependent on the state. And it
would allow a much broader spectrum of people to go to Cuba, and not
just those who are generally sympathetic to the regime — and apologetic
about its dismal human rights record.

Those who oppose lifting the travel ban say it will provide resources to
the Castro government, and effectively toss the regime a lifeboat. What
they don't understand is that the Titanic that is the Cuban economy sank
decades ago and no lifeboat can spare the regime the judgment of history.

BOTTOM LINE: Cuban regime promises more same-old — really old.

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