Monday, January 29, 2007

Triste pero cierto

Toronto Sun
January 29, 2007

Cubans must crush dictators

HAVANA -- Waiting for Fidel.

Waiting for him to die? Waiting for him to recover?

Patiently waiting for any word on his status. Waiting to see some footage of him "jogging" -- as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has indicated. Waiting for something!

Until Castro's health is sorted out, Cubans wait. But while they do, all the presidente's men are making plans to nail down their control of the island nation of 11 million.

For decades ordinary people have been silently dreaming about what life would be like after Fidel. Suddenly they see their dreams are slipping away as el comandante's departure is being conveniently prolonged.

The way things are playing out, the nightmare may not end since brother Raul and company are solidifying their positions during Fidel's reported long illness. Whether he is dead or not, it's a succession plan being implemented to perfection. With no opposition. This is Castro's Cuba. A one-party state.

While Cubans are waiting, history says, they should be pushing -- pushing for radical change and should do it now while there is still some question about Fidel and what's next.

If they don't do this, they know what is next. More of what they have had for decades. More grinding poverty. More totalitarian control. More corrupt communism.

It's time for Cuba to step into 2007 and join the rest of the world. It's time for normal travel and it's time for normal, uncontrolled communications like the Internet.

It's time for freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Freedom of the press, freedom to walk down the street with whom you choose. Freedom to criticize government without talking in code. Freedom to have a career and earn a decent wage. Freedom to not rely on government ration cards.

It's time for freedom in Cuba. Other communist-controlled peoples have made this happen. If oppressed Cubans want these freedoms, now is the time to act. Don't wait for confirmation of 80-year-old Fidel Castro's death. Don't wait for a healthy Castro comeback. Don't wait for his equally unelected brother to solidify absolute power.

There are other options. A peaceful people's revolution is one. Two million people gathering at the U.S. Interest Section office here will send a message to these communist dinosaurs, and to the rest of the world, they want change.

The world would not tolerate tanks crushing people power. Plain Cuban soldiers are good people and would likely not hurt their own anyway. The government would fall in 24 hours. Remember the Berlin Wall?


If Cubans want a different country it is them who must demand it. It is them who must take the risk! Easy for us to say but other countries have had its citizens make sacrifices for freedom. But Cubans seem terrified since anybody who ever stood up before was jailed.

Fear still rules. Spies are everywhere on the streets and everybody knows the power of the secret police. On the surface it doesn't appear Cubans are ready to take back their country. Instead, mired in fear, they are waiting for Fidel.

They have had 48 years of experience of how to do that.

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