Cuba ‘open for business’, closed to dissent


Cuba may be open for business, but it remains closed to dissent, according to a retired career American diplomat.

“Despite President Obama’s best intentions, no improvement on the human rights situation in Cuba has occurred, on the contrary, the number of political detentions continues to increase,” said Ambassador James C. Cason (above, right), who led the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. He joined Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet (above, left), Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience, to denounce the continuing political repression in Cuba.

“State terror is selective against human rights and pro-democracy activists as we speak,” said Dr. Biscet, who spent nine years in Castro’s political prisons.

“They [the Castro regime] try to decapitate the democracy movement’s leadership by jailing them or sending them into exile,” Biscet said:

During General Raul Castro’s tenure as Chief of State, several prominent dissidents, such as Laura Pollán, have died under mysterious circumstances or while being denied water in the midst of hunger strikes in Cuban prisons. Oswaldo Payá, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement that presented thousands of petitions to Cuba’s National Assembly, was murdered by Cuban State Security that rammed his car off a country road.

Cuba’s faces three scenarios: “inertia and exit”; “botched transition and decay”; or “soft landing,” according to Richard Feinberg (below), a nonresident senior fellow in the Latin America Initiative and author of the forthcoming book, “Open for Business: Building a New Cuban Economy” (Brookings, 2016).

Cuba’s workers are unlikely to get much protection in a free market economy from the state-controlled unions, but the self-employed are joining just in case, according to 14ymedio:

Cuba has a unionization rate of almost 96%. According to official statistics, more than three million workers belong to 18 unions that are grouped under the umbrella of the Cuban Workers Central Union, which functions as a conveyor belt for the Communist Party’s “instructions.” After some first months in which the self-employed were left alone, the CTC encouraged carrying out “political work” in order to make them enter the ranks of the organization. According to their numbers, more than 400,000 “self-employed workers,” of the 500,000 registered in the country, belong to the official organization. For the moment, the creation of a union just for the self-employed continues to be a project “under study.”

The two dozen Cuban migrants who clung to a 109-foot lighthouse off the coast of the Florida Keys in the hopes of escaping Cuba must return to their home country, a federal judge in Miami ruled, Jacob Gershman writes for the WSJ blog:

The migrants on May 20 swam to the lighthouse when their small, homemade vessel broke down. That led to an eight-hour standoff that ended with them in custody aboard a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and threw their fate into the hands of the court….

Reports the Miami Herald:

Pro-bono lawyers for the nonprofit Movimiento Democracia, or Democracy Movement, filed an injunction to the repatriation order four days later, leaving the migrants in Coast Guard limbo until Judge Gayles ruled.

LGBT groups are flocking to apartheid Cuba for vacations and excursions under the impression the island is a gay paradise where no one will discriminate against them, Babalu Blog reports:

They are in reality completely oblivious to the Castro dictatorship’s horrific history of oppression against LGBT Cubans when not so long ago they would be rounded up and put into concentration camps throughout the island. Listen to gay Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas (above) explain the truth about being gay in Castro’s Cuba.

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