Monday, February 25, 2008

Does Raul Castro Offer Hope To Cubans?

Reformer or killer?

The Cuban National Assembly has named longtime Minister of Defense, Raúl Castro, President of Cuba.

As second-in-command of a 49-year old dictatorship, he is directly responsible for crimes against humanity on countless thousands in Cuba and worldwide. A longtime member of Cuba’s Council of State, Fidel Castro's younger brother has been signing execution orders for years. But, his killing career began early on. In 1956, while in exile in Mexico, he murdered a former comrade.

During the revolutionary struggle in the mountains, he executed deserters and informants. In the early days of the revolution, while in charge of the Oriente province, he had hundreds of men killed. In one day alone, he ordered at least 72 men executed without trial in the city of Santiago.

All throughout the night of January 12, 1959 and into the following day, successive groups of men were lined up in front of ditches at San Juan Hill and shot by firing squads. Raúl is reported to have gleefully delivered the coup d’grace on a few. Afterwards, a bulldozer was brought in to cover the mass graves.

Among the victims was policeman Benito Cortés, an American citizen born in Puerto Rico and father of five.

In 1966, Raúl had the bodies exhumed, encased in concrete, and dumped into deep waters off the coast of Cuba.

All this information, is courtesy of Cuba Archive, which has documented the killings of dozens of people, including many children, while attempting to escape Cuba with Raúl Castro in a leading role.

Cuba Archive says Castro's Air Force carried out the Canimar River Massacre of July 6, 1980, where dozens were murdered. Many more unarmed civilians are believed to have suffered similar fate at the hand of special Air Force units dedicated to spotting and sinking rafts.

Yet Cuba experts who have previously appeared on News Talk Online to discuss the ascension of Raul Castro see him as a reformist.

To offer the other perspective, I've invited Cuba Archive's Maria Werlau as my guest today.

Werlau is president of the board and Cuba Archive's executive director. She's a consultant in private practice, policy analyst, author of wide-ranging writings on Cuban affairs, and longtime human rights' advocate.

To talk to Werlau at 5 PM New York time today CLICK HERE.

Paltalk is the largest multimedia interactive program on the Internet with more than 4 million unique users.

News Talk Online is also syndicated by CRN Digital Talk Radio to cable systems serving an additional 12 million households.


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