By famed Cuban poet and former political prisoner, Raul Rivero, in Spain's El Mundo (our translation):
Distance and Fire
They are nearly fifty former U.S. government officials, politicians, ex-military officials, cultural figures and businessmen of Cuban origin. They have written an open letter to President Barack Obama asking him to ease the embargo toward the dictatorship because they believe it will help grow civil society in Cuba and improve bilateral relations.
It's a call to take steps to make more aggressive and fluid the wave of engagement and contacts that the Obama Administration enacted with caution and firmness a few years ago. The document was written in an impeccable and measured tone.
As tends to happen with analysis, petitions and proposals that are planned and signed outside the country, it ignores the reality of life on the island. It has happened on this occasion as well. In Cuba, civil society is tied to a puppet string controlled by the government. Major sectors of the population are more interested in living freely and in harmony, than in any cordiality between the leaders of the U.S. and the regime.
The majority of opposition groups, the Ladies in White and independent journalists have reacted with indignation towards this letter, which seems more inclined to the interests of some in the U.S., to the aspirations of some businessmen who want a space within the ruins of the Cuban economy and seek to fan those in power with a palm branch.
Cuban democracy advocate Antonio Rodiles stated from Havana that the letter was shameful because it's an "anti-embargo onslaught associated with the silence or support of political actors inside and outside the island. Basic freedoms have never come from complacency with the executioners."
"Those who today are afraid that time is running out must hear direct words, based on the premise of respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens," he added.
For Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White, the embargo should remain in place. The oxygen spigot should never be opened for the government as its would strengthen and supply the repressive machinery against human rights activists.
One thing is distance and another is being inside the burning fire.
The embargo that must be eliminated is the one which totalitarianism has imposed on the Cuban people. When that nation is democratic, the issues between both governments can be resolved diplomatically in 24 hours.
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