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Then came a report by Human Rights Watch last year titled “New Castro/ Same Cuba:” “Raúl Castro’s government has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores of people who have dared to exercise their fundamental freedoms,” it summarized. “Rather than dismantle this repressive machinery, Raúl Castro has kept it firmly in place and fully active.”
Indeed, for almost two decades, the aforementioned Ramiro Valdes was Cuba’s supremely efficient minister of the Interior (chief of the secret police). Here he officially took over his friend Che Guevara’s unofficial role as main conduit for the KGB.
But Ramiro Valdes’ toadyism towards the Castros dates from way back to July 1953, when he was among the bona-fide attackers of the Castro-planned attack on Cuba’s Moncada Military barracks. (Both Fidel and Raul managed to evade even a whiff of association to this attack, by the way.)
Ramon Machado’s toadyism to the Castros dates from the Castro’s subsequent guerrilla war against dictator Batista, who relinquished power at age 57. Despite his regime’s corruption and sporadic (and mostly retaliatory) brutality, Batista left a Cuba boasting a higher standard of living than half of Europe, the 13th lowest infant-mortality rate on earth, and tens of thousands of immigrants, mostly from Europe, clamoring to enter Cuba and thus escape their relative impoverishment.
Batista died in exile at age 73, with Castro’s Cuba jailing more political prisoners than the Soviet Union, murdering more Cubans than Hitler murdered Germans during the Night of Long Knives, with more Cubans dead trying to escape their homeland than died escaping East Germany — and with Cuba’s standard of living repelling Haitians.
Upon assuming the presidency this week, Raul Castro vowed: “I assume my post to defend, preserve and continue perfecting socialism, and never permit the return of capitalism.” Don’t expect change to come to Cuba anytime soon.
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