Cuba's Courageous Women Deserve Better

Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) is sponsoring another one of its trips to Cuba.

Their trips usually vary in theme -- but are always vetted and pre-approved by the Castro regime.

This time, the theme is a delegation of influential U.S. women
composed of former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who now heads the Woodrow Wilson Institute for International Peace, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and attorney-activist Ahadi Bugg-Levine.

So surely they visited with the courageous women leaders of the Cuban pro-democracy movement, who conduct peaceful marches, protests and sit-ins, right?

You know, the ones who are constantly beaten, tortured and arrested by the Castro regime's thugs.

Or surely they visited with the courageous Ladies in White and their support network, whose relatives have suffered years in prison for their political beliefs, right?

How about with the mothers of the pro-democracy leaders that have been murdered for their advocacy?

Maybe they went to provide support to Reina Luisa Tamayo, who yesterday exhumed the remains of her murdered son, Cuban political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo?

Sadly, none of the above.

The CDA took them to meet with the princess heir of the Castro family dictatorship -- Mariela Castro.
(And a meeting with the families of five Cuban spies convicted in U.S. federal courts for espionage and conspiracy to commit murder).

Yes, the same Mariela that in an interview last week referred to young Cubans that don't support her family's tyrannical dynasty as "uncultured."

And what impressions were exchanged during this meeting?

The following quotes from AP provide some (disappointing) clues:

"It is very exciting to hear about some of the social changes going on in your country," former U.S. Rep. Jane Harman said.

Does she mean the 1,400 political arrests in Cuba thus far this year?

Or maybe the fact that the Castro regime is en route to double its amount of political arrests from 2010?

"We want there to be transparent relations that respect our sovereignty and are not manipulative or based on conditions," said Mariela Castro.

For Mariela, "respect" means recognizing her family's unilateral will to maintain its totalitarian control of Cuba.

Anyone who disagrees is "uncultured" or "manipulated" from abroad -- except, of course, when she travels the world courtesy of generous grants from the Ford Foundation.

And finally, "our hope is that we will learn from the Cuban women and that maybe we have something to offer in exchange," said Sarah Stephens, CDA's executive director.

Isn't CDA's argument against U.S. policy that travel to Cuba will "enlighten" Cubans as to the virtues of democracy?

Or is it now to learn from the Castro clan the "virtues" of family dictatorships, brutalizing pro-democracy activists and submission to absolutism?

Cuba's courageous women deserve better.