Thursday, June 23, 2011

While world focuses on Arab Spring, Cuba's human rights struggle goes ignored


Cuba, unchanged. Alcino photo/Flickr
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
People are fighting for their rights throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. But for decades, repressions have remained in place in Cuba, and the lack of attention about the plight of the people of that island nation, a mere 90 miles from the United States, is a source of frustration for Humberto Fontova.
Fontova, an author, public speaker and columnist, insists the so-called embargo of Cuba is really a mirage. When you look at it, there are so many exceptions to it and travel restrictions, that more money is actually flowing into Cuba now than when it was a satellite of the former Soviet Union.
Fontova, in an interview for News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, compares the Castro regimes to that of Stalin, saying the imprisonment of Cuban dissidents rivals that of Russians during his reign of terror.
He’s particularly frustrated with President Obama, for going back to the policies of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – basically not pressuring Cuba for the human rights violations – the imprisonment of people who dare to speak out – that has continued for decades.
As to the perception of reforms now that Fidel Castro is no longer in charge, Fontova argues they are cosmetic in nature, that Raul Castro who is now president rules with the same iron fist as did his brother.
What fuels the regime’s ability to keep control of Cuba? Fontova says, look toward Venezuela for the answer to that. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, he says, is Cuba’s new “daddy” – and without the influx of free oil – more than the Cuban people could even imagine consuming – the regime would fold.
Interestingly, Chavez is in Cuba for what’s being described as a minor operation. But he has not been seen in public for days, fueling speculation about his well-being. But even if he were to fall from power, Fontova predicts nothing would change. Chavez, he says, has groomed underlings to take his place when he’s gone. Bad news for Venezuela, he argues. Equally bad news for Cuba.

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