Perhaps Spain is not lost

Friends of Cuban liberty have been angered and saddened by the recent moves by the Spanish government to re-normalize relations with Havana, with barely a mention by Madrid of the political prisoners held by the Castro dictatorship. It smacks of the most dangerous type of appeasement, which is why I and many others are putting our money where our words and hearts are. Spain must not be allowed a free public relations pass for making its deal with the devil.
But soon after Spain’s foreign minister shook hands with one of the Hitlers of the Caribbean, the Spanish parliament passed a resolution requesting the release of Cuban political prisoner Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos. Why Álvarez was singled out, I am not certain. Maybe it’s because he is a leading labor unionist, and someone both the left and the right in Spain can rally around.
Last November, I profiled Álvarez at Uncommon Sense:

Do you have a collection of books, perhaps displayed on bookshelves in your living room or study?
In Cuba, if you are so fortunate to have such a collection, chances are you are breaking the law.
Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos saw that first hand in March 2003, during the “black spring” crackdown on Cuban dissidents, when police broke into his home and took books and other items from his “Biblioteca Sindical Emilio Máspero.” They also arrested Álvarez. After all, independent libraries, just like an independent press, are considered as threats to the state and party.
Álvarez, now 58, wasn’t just a wayward librarian. He also was president of the Unitary Council of Workers, an independent labor movement.
An independent librarian.
An independent labor union leader.
An independent man.
A dangerous trifecta for the Castro regime.
So it sentenced Álvarez to 25 years in prison for “counter-revolutionary” activities that “put in danger the independence and sovereignty of Cuba.”

Oscar Espinosa Chepe is wrong — the expression of Spanish support does not eliminate the sting of Spain’s betrayal. It is a nice gesture, even welcomed, but is it credible?
How can the Spanish parliamentarians be expected to be taken seriously by the Cuban dictatorship, while at the same time their foreign minister is giving a cold shoulder to dissidents who only wanted a few moments of his time during his recent visit to Havana?
Skepicism is the only logical reaction, as more than anything, Spain is being driven by the almighty Euro.
But at the same time, the resolution in support of Álvarez — which surely can be replicated on behalf of the other 300 or so political prisoners in Cuba, and by other parliaments in Europe — shows that perhaps Spain is not yet a lost ally in the struggle for Cuban liberty.

2 thoughts on “Perhaps Spain is not lost”

  1. Like I’ve said before, it’s all about the Benjamins. I guess that Cuba owes Spain one biig frakking crapload of moolah, and they know that a dead fidel means they can at least partially collect. I don’t know whether it’s kissing up Spain is doing, or making it very clear to raul that Spain is watching them.

  2. This is what’s known as a token gesture. It doesn’t even begin to suffice. It’s just one more instance of the longstanding game between the dictatorship and the supposedly freedom-loving EU, with political prisoners as pawns or bargaining chips. Spain is NOT serious, and if it is, it needs to do a hell of a lot better than this. Anything merely verbal or symbolic, by the way, is largely worthless.
    Spain has had half a century to do right by Cuba. It never has, not really, though perhaps it was headed in that direction under Aznar. It’s NOT just the politicians. The business types who have been happily exploiting the “opportunity” of Cuba’s slavery are contemptible bastards. The ordinary Spaniards who find Zapatero’s Cuba policy acceptable are at best enablers of the disgusting status quo. There’s PLENTY of guilt to go around.
    I know many Cubans, for personal or family reasons, want to let Spain off the hook very badly, just like Cubans did after the War of Independence. Cubans were nothing if not forgiving then, and all Spain did was to stab Cuba in the back after Castro took over. It’s been twisting the knife ever since. I’m sorry, but I’m all out of sympathy. If Spain actually wants forgiveness, which is by no means certain, it had damn better earn it–and tired little prisoner games won’t cut it.

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