Coddling Cuba

Thursday, April 9, 2009
Coddling Cuba
Why do the members of Congress rushing to befriend the Castros ignore the island's pro-democracy movement?

The Washington Post
Thursday, April 9, 2009; A16

HALF A DOZEN members of the Congressional Black Caucus spent hours huddling with Fidel and Raúl Castro in Havana this week as part of a swelling campaign to normalize relations with Cuba. "It is time to open dialogue and discussion," Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) told a news conference in Washington after their return. "Cubans do want dialogue. They do want talks." Funny, then, that in five days on the island the Congress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García Pérez.

Mr. García, better known as "Antúnez," is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often been singled out for harsh treatment because of his color. "The authorities in my country," he has said, "have never tolerated that a black person [could dare to] oppose the regime." His wife, Iris, is a founder of the Rosa Parks Women's Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try to emulate. The couple have been on a hunger strike since Feb. 17, to demand justice for an imprisoned family member. They are part of a substantial and steadily growing civil movement advocating democratic change in Cuba -- one that U.S. advocates of detente with the Castros appear determined to ignore.

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