Hunger strike in Cuba
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    Cuba: No more

    Posted on Monday, 03.15.10
    Cuba: No more
    OUR OPINION: Castros deserve repeated condemnations

    With a few outstanding exceptions like Václav Havel, former president of
    Czechoslovakia, Europe's leaders have a deploraple history of painting a
    smiley face on Cuba's state.

    Not one of them would willingly live under a 50-year dictatorship. Yet
    faced with the abuses they would never tolerate within their own
    borders, they have tended to make excuses for the , systematic
    denial of civil liberties and coercive measures used by the Castro
    brothers to ensure the survival of the longest-lived tyranny ever seen
    in the Western Hemisphere.

    Anyone who still has illusions about the nature of the Cuban regime need
    only read the State Department's latest report, issued last
    week. It is a depressing, 12,000-word chronicle describing the many and
    varied ways by which the state continues to deny Cuba's citizens basic
    human rights.

    Through it all, Europe has taken a markedly soft diplomatic approach to
    Cuba. Yet last week's 509-30 vote by the European Parliament to condemn
    Cuba for the death of hunger striker Tamayo certainly
    represents a marked change from the tendency to look the other way when
    it comes to the Castros' totalitarian behavior.

    Could it be that the veil has finally been lifted from Europe's eyes? We
    won't hold our breath, but Cuban human rights advocate Elizardo Sánchez
    rightly called it the strongest declaration on Cuba ever issued by
    European democracies.

    Europe's line on Cuba is based on the notion that it would permit the
    continent's leaders to establish credibility as friends of Cuba in order
    to nudge the regime toward a democratic political transition. As the
    shocking death of Orlando demonstrates, it hasn't worked, and it
    won't as long as Fidel and Raúl Castro are calling the shots.

    If Europe has been late in coming around, Brazilian President Luiz
    Inácio Lula da Silva has demonstrated a shocking incapacity to
    comprehend the plight of the Cuban people. As a former political
    , jailed for his labor activism under a military regime in
    Brazil decades ago, Brazil's president should be able to relate to the
    misery and pain of Cuba's political inmates. Instead, he has equated
    them to common criminals in Brazil's prisons. How could he be so wrong?

    Perhaps like the Europeans, Mr. da Silva's courtship of the Castro
    brothers is an attempt to show his independence from the
    and create the opportunity to act as an “interlocutor'' between Cuba
    and other countries. If so, he's going about it very badly. There is a
    thin line between “interlocutor'' and “enabler,'' and with his latest
    comments, Brazil's president has made himself the latter rather than the

    As this is written, another Cuban , Guillermo Fariñas, is
    staging a hunger strike to protest the violent and inhuman ways of the
    Cuban state. At last report, Mr. Fariñas was in frail condition and had
    been rushed to a after two weeks of refusing and liquids.

    It should not have taken the death by starvation of Orlando Zapata —
    and possibly more such deaths to come — for Europeans to awaken to the
    reality of Cuba's government. Now that they are on the right track, they
    should stay the course.

    The Castro brothers have only one objective: to remain in power as long
    as one of them is alive. Only by calling them out for each and every
    transgression can the leaders of other countries help the Cuban people
    to achieve liberty.

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