Coddling Castros Has Made Cuban Regime More Vicious Than Ever
09/09/2015 06:56 PM ET
Leadership: Cuba’s dictatorship has cracked down harder than ever on
dissidents at a time when high-ranking leaders, political pilgrims and
tourists are paying tribute to the regime in droves. Who will stand for
Hard to think of any time when it’s ever been rosier for the Castro
brothers in their 56 years as absolute overlords of Cuba.
In the rubble of their failed communist system, President Obama has
extended normal relations — and asked nothing in return. Pope Francis is
paying a visit to Cuba this month, complete with a mass to be held under
the godlike image of bloodstained revolutionary Che Guevara.
U.S. congressional delegations — at least 20, notes the Capitol Hill
Cubans blog — have been paying tribute to the “achievements” of Castro’s
revolution and hobnobbing with Cuban officials, mojitos in hand.
Tourists from the U.S. are rolling in, too, legal or not, fattening the
coffers of the Cuban military that runs the hotels.
Having won such legitimization, it’s passing strange that far from
loosening up, the Castro brothers are cracking down on Cubans harder
than ever. It’s as if to say the fresh attention to their island is a
perk for them alone, and the Cuban people not invited.
Castro’s secret police have arrested 4,264 dissidents for political
reasons so far in 2015, according to the unofficial Cuban Commission on
Human Rights Reconciliation. That squares with Hablemos Press agency’s
782 arrests counted in August, topping the 506 arrested in July and 617
in May, in the highest numbers of the year.
On Tuesday, Castro’s plainclothes goons arrested and beat up 140
dissidents in Santiago in an unprovoked attack as they walked to a
church mass to honor Cuba’s patron saint, Our Lady of Charity.
On Sunday, the same enforcers came down hard on a group of 60 Ladies in
White, wives of Cuba’s political prisoners, arresting and beating not
just the unarmed women but a visiting Chilean politician, Felipe Kast,
as well. Kast showed the courage — unlike the 20 U.S. congress members —
to walk with them. When was the last time we saw left-wing visitors to
Cuba such as Reps. Karen Bass and Maxine Waters show such solidarity?
“The Ladies in White have spent a long time suffering violent arrests
simply for demonstrating peacefully for the respect of human rights in
Cuba. In my visit to Cuba, the least I could do was accompany them in
their Sunday walk,” Chile’s Kast said.
Kast has a longtime interest in Cuba, even creating his own exchange
program with the University of Havana as a student, to experience Cuba
as Cubans do, in the 1990s. He told the press afterward that he believed
he was randomly caught up in the Castroite beatdown.
But given that Kast is the son of Miguel Kast — one of Chile’s most
important “Chicago Boys” free-market economists of the 1970s and 1980s
whose reforms transformed Chile from a Cuban client state into a
prosperous market-oriented country based on the rule of law — he may be
reading too little into it.
The fact is, Kast is all the Cubans have now. There’s no one standing up
to the Castro brothers from the so-called free world in an act of
leadership against their stepped up repression.
Secretary of State John Kerry has paid lip service to Cuba’s human
rights depredations but shut Cuba’s dissidents out of the August 14
embassy opening ceremony. He even likened Cuba’s thuggery to problems in
the U.S., as if the countries were somehow moral equals.
Meanwhile, the Vatican has been silent in the wake of the attack on the
Cuban churchgoers in Santiago Tuesday just before the pope’s visit.
That attack was strong enough a message of contempt to the church from
the Castroites for the pope to call the trip off, but he hasn’t. Where
is the courage in that?
So the strongest challenge the Castro regime faces these days is not
from the most powerful leaders of the so-called free world.
No, it’s from a symbol of the free market such as Chile’s Kast, whose
free-market principles just happen to be based on human dignity,
individual rights and courage, not proximity to power.
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