Relegated to the Dustbin of Despots

Friday, January 1, 2010
From the Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Cuba's paranoia

Get caught spreading pro-democracy materials or even humanitarian aid in Cuba and chances are you'll sample the Castros' hospitality behind bars.

The communist island dictatorship that employs one of the most aggressive intelligence networks in the world remains committed against even the lowest level of outside interference -- and is as paranoid as ever.

"If you work for a human rights organization, it's naive to think they don't know who you are," says one expert on Havana's autocracy.

Earlier this month Cuban authorities arrested an American subcontractor for a Maryland economic development firm. Reportedly he was distributing cell phones and laptops in Cuba. President Raul Castro insists the American was supplying opposition groups with satellite communication equipment and accuses the Obama administration of maintaining hostile policies.

Although Raul says he's open to a "respectful dialogue" with the U.S., bitter brother Fidel remains ever critical of the Obama administration.

So much for Washington "recasting" its relationship with Cuba, in part by attempting to soften a 47-year trade embargo. For all its ill-advised efforts the U.S. has done nothing to change a narrow mind-set whose priority remains iron-fisted control.

Nothing will change in Cuba until the brothers Castro are relegated to history's dustbin of despots.