The fates of 53 dissidents released as a result of Washington’s rapprochement with Havana show just how hard it will be for the U.S. to push human rights in Cuba in the direction the Obama administration desires, AP reports:
U.S. government information and an Associated Press assessment of the dissidents’ lives 12 months after their release shows that at least 35 have asked for refugee status allowing them to move permanently to the U.S., reducing the ranks of an already weak and divided opposition movement. Many applications have been delayed by vetting of the dissidents’ criminal records, some of which have little to do with political activity. Seven have either left Cuba for or are preparing to leave this month.
“The reforms that have to be made in terms of restrictions of liberty must come from the Cuban government, not from the government of the United States,” said Marselha Goncalves Margerin, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for the Americas.
The nominally socialist island has witnessed a sharp increase in social inequality in recent years, reports suggest.
“I didn’t go to Cuba planning to report on inequality,” Stephanie Nolen reports from a country in transition. “But it kept coming up, a source of comment and concern. Not many people study inequality in a place where, in theory, the political system has eradicated it.”
An inert US Hellfire missile sent to Europe for a training exercise was wrongly shipped on to Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reports:
The incident in 2014 could have led to a serious loss of military technology, officials told the paper. US officials have since been trying to get Cuba to return the missile, which did not contain explosives. Investigators are unclear if the incident was an error or the result of espionage, the paper says……US officials are worried that Cuba could share the advanced technology inside the missile with countries such as North Korea, China or Russia, the paper adds.
A Hellfire missile that could be of great value to Russia, China, North Korea gets to Cuba, notes Council on Foreign Relations analyst Elliott Abrams, a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy:
We ask for it back. The Cuban regime says, in effect, drop dead. All the while we are negotiating with Cuba over an end to the embargo, much increased travel and investment and trade, and an opening of diplomatic relations. Do we say “hold on, we are ready to go but will not take those steps until we get the missile back?”
Today, January 8th, is the 57th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s arrival (above) to adoring crowds in Havana while Raul Castro was rounding up Cubans in preparation for a bloodbath in Santiago, the Center for a Free Cuba’s Frank Calzon adds:
On the 10th Raul (28) had bulldozers open up a trench 40 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 10 feet deep by San Juan Hill near Santiago. Although Fidel Castro had repeatedly said that one important reason for the revolt was to bring back into effect the Cuban Constitution that forbade capital punishment, Raul had more than 70 Cubans executed without due process. “Before dawn, buses rolled out to the range and the condemned men dismounted, their hands tied, their faces drawn. Some pleaded that they had been rebel sympathizers all along; some wept; most stood silent. Half got blindfolds…six rebel executioners fired and the bodies jackknifed into the grave. Two more prisoners stepped forward, then two more, and two more – and the grave slowly filled… Almost all were followed by a coup de grace – two .45 slugs fired into the head of the man already dead,” according to Time, January 26, 1959.
Above, Raul Castro after ordering an execution in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.