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Cuba won’t change course when Castro dynasty ends



Published: Sat, March 2, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

2With that unambiguous statement, Cuban President Raul Castro, who was elected last week to a second five-year term by the National Assembly, let it be known that socialist (dictatorial) Cuba of today will be socialist (dictatorial) Cuba of tomorrow and of 2018.

After that?

Considering who Castro has handpicked to be his successor, it will be more of the same in the island nation a mere 90 miles from the United States. Miguel Diaz-Canel, 52, an electrical engineer by training and ex-minister of higher education, is an insider who obviously embraces the philosophy of the 81-year-old president and his 86-year-old brother, Fidel Castro, who retired in 2008 after running the country since 1959. That was the year the Castro brothers led the revolution that toppled the pro-American government of Fulgencio Batista.

Any hopes of a change after 2018 from the oppressive rule that has crippled Cuba economically and socially for decades were dashed when the president offered this assessment of Diaz-Canel, who will take over the reins of power:

“Our greatest satisfaction is the tranquility and serene confidence we feel as we deliver to the new generations the responsibility to continue building socialism.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Florida, had it absolutely right when she contended that the U.S. should not change its policy of isolation of the Cuban regime.

“If dictator Raul Castro states that he will retire in five years, there will still be no real change for the Cuban people so long as the Castro brothers remain in any form of leadership position, even behind the scenes,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

President Obama, who in his first term talked about the steps the Cuban government must take to bring about a loosening of the near-total embargo, must reiterate this nation’s position that freedom and human rights are the foundation upon which’s Cuba’s relationship with the U.S. can be built.

Reaching out

In January 2011, Obama asked the secretaries of state, treasury and homeland security to take a series of steps to “continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their country’s future.”

Among the steps: purposeful travel; non-family remittances; U.S. airports supporting licensed charter flights to and from Cuba.

“These measures will increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities,” the White House said in a statement at the time.

However, in light of the comments by President Raul Castro and the fact that the status quo will prevail when he is replaced by Diaz-Canel, the Obama administration’s effort to bring about change seems doomed to fail.

It appears that democracy for Cuba will remain but a dream for years to come.


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