Cuba’s False Dawn

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If political freedom remains viciously suppressed, the state of religious freedom is similarly imperiled. In February, government-organized mobs harassed and threatened dissidents who had sought safety in churches. In one incident, the archbishop of Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city, had to intervene to help evacuate 14 women dissidents who had take refuge in a basilica because of reports that police were waiting nearby to beat them. The women were members of Ladies in White, which consists of the wives and relatives of jailed political dissidents. Nor can Cubans’ freely practice their faith. Despite the pope’s forthcoming visit, Cuban dissidents say that they are barred by police from attending mass and many are arrested on Sundays to keep them from going.

Raul’s economic reforms also fall short of credible change. Small-scale privatization efforts have led to optimistic suggestions that Cuba is pursuing the Chinese model of merging communist rule with a free-market economy, but even that seems to be an overstatement. The Cuban government has allowed some limited private enterprise and legalized self-employment in some 180 low-skill professions. But absent a true free market, access to the supplies and credit necessary to run a business remains a major challenge. Not surprisingly, most employment still comes from the government. Despite some cuts in the public sector, the government still accounts for 80 percent of Cuba’s jobs. It’s true that Cuba now allows more economic freedom than at any time since the introduction of communism, but that is a low benchmark for meaningful reform.

While Raul Castro has successfully sold himself as a reformer abroad, the consensus among many Cubans is that nothing will change as long as the Castro brothers remain alive. It would be a shame if the pope’s trip serves to give added legitimacy to a regime that continues to trample on the freedom of its people.

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  • StephenD

    When we see folks strapping together 55 gallon drums to an old door to make their way to Cuba, perhaps then we can believe there are true reforms taking place. Until then and while there are people struggling to get out of Cuba…I'll continue to despise Communism, the Castro's, Che's memory, et al. Viva the Freedom Loving People of Cuba. All the rest…can pack sand.

  • Steve Chavez

    There are "occupy" groups in Cuban churches protesting before the Pope's visit in less than two weeks. The American Left championed the use of churches as "sanctuary" but in Cuba the church leadership has this excuse:

    "Any acts that seek to turn places of worship into a place for political demonstrations, disregarding the authority of the priest or the right of most people who go there in search of spiritual peace or prayer time, certainly are illegitimate and irresponsible," the archdiocese statement said. (PRINT AND SAVE.) Strange

    WHAT WORD IS NEXT TO M-A-R-X in the dictionary? M-A-R-Y the mother of Jesus Christ next to the father of Communism. There is a war between Jesus and Marx and the followers of each. Marxists have infiltrated our American churches to preach the social justice/Liberation Theology/Black Liberation Theology AND TO RAISE MONEY to aid an ideology that says "There is no God." OBAMA IS THEIR LEADER!

  • g_jochnowitz

    in September of 2010, Fidel Castro told Jeffrey Goldberg that Israel had a right to exist.
    Anti-Zionism is the be-all and end-all of the Left. Castro's statement was amazing. it received insufficient publicity. There has been no follow-up.
    The issue should be raised again. Maybe the Pope can mention it during his visit.

  • dirt

    Why do these elites and leaders condemn a person who killed another but praise a regime who killed thousands? Are they afraid of the regime or are they two-faces?