Monday, January 22, 2007

True friends

One of the great successes of the Castro regime over the past 48 years has been its extraordinary ability to effectively silence international criticism of what is a nasty, oppressive and decaying dictatorial regime.

It’s done so by dressing itself up as an innocent underdog – the little battler under constant attack from its powerful bully-boy neighbour to the North.

It’s crap, of course. But it has worked in the past and continues to work today.

That may explain the rather depressing message in this story in The Mercury News.

Reporter Pablo Bachelet describes how the major democracies in both Europe and Latin America have been “conspicuously silent” on the need to ensure that Cuba takes the democratic and pluralistic road once Fidel Castro kicks the bucket.

In fact, Bachelet argues, a push by the US State Department to engage most of its traditional allies on the issue of Cuba appears to have been a big failure.

It seems most democracies have remained silent because they are “unwilling to be associated with US policies toward Cuba” or “reluctant to anger Havana by criticising its communist government”.

In other words, they fear upsetting the dictator. Amazing.

In Latin America, the only current leader to have spoken up is Oscar Arias, the Nobel Prize winner who is president of Costa Rica. In return, he got the usual treatment from Havana, which described him as an American lackey and a “mercenary”. Water off a duck’s back. I think he deserves a second Nobel.

And within the European Union, the list of those publicly and loudly calling for democracy in Cuba comprises the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

What do these European nations have in common? Easy. They all have experienced Soviet-style Communism. They know what it’s like. And all democratic Cubans will be forever grateful to them.


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