Diplomacy among presidents and repression against activists
This past December, while the world’s newspapers highlighted the unprecedented handshake of two leaders, officers of the State Security were busy repressing activists in eastern Cuba.
While General Raúl Castro, appointed President by his brother Fidel (without elections), was shaking hands with US President Barack Obama at the funeral of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, special services and combined police forces mounted a major operation around the home of dissident Antonio Rodiles, Director of ‘Estado de Sats,’ a project in which diverse political and civic areas coexist in the illegal world of Cuban opposition.
Also, on December 10th, while the headlines of half the world’s newspapers highlighted on their front page the unprecedented handshake of the two leaders, the tough guys of the State Security were busy repressing activists in Eastern Cuba and detaining dozens of members of the opposition in the rest of the Island.
All of this takes place under the indifference of ordinary Cubans, whose main objective is to try to get enough food on the table each day for at least two meals. The handshake was just another news story for the neighborhood grocer, for the private taxi driver and for people waiting for the bus at a busy stop.
The regime knows that a high percentage of the population remains on the sidelines, passively observing the national political panorama. People in Cuba are concerned with how to survive, how to flee the country or figure out how to set up a tiny establishment that may allow them to earn some money.
In the meanwhile, the “olive-green” autocrats cry out that they want to do business… but with the United States. They do not mind, for the moment, sitting down and talking with an opposition that has unquestionable merit: the courage to dissent publically within a totalitarian regime.
The dissidents have paid the price: years of imprisonment, exile and repression. But neither the undeniable right to be considered a political force, nor the acts of repudiation nad beatings, have been able to generate a favorable opinion in the minds of the majority of Cuban citizens, who are nevertheless disgusted with the deplorable government of the Castro’s for the last 55 years.
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