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February 2014
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    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 Fidel Castro, has been a relaxation of travel
    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 dissident 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 police
    station to demand his freedom. 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 president, 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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