This video deserves to be seen. In it, four prominent members of the Cuban dissidence movement make their case. They basically feel betrayed by Obama, in the words of Guillermo Fariñas. They feel the lifting of the embargo is a reward to the Castros, and will end up benefitting the regime. And they also had some pretty interesting things to say about the younger members of the Castro clan.
I don’t share their point. True, government elites will probably benefit, but so will the population at large. Undoubtedly, communications will be vastly improved, and people will find greater access to the Internet and mobile phones. And if relations with the US helps Cuban standards of living rise, then it might make Cubans more amenable to the ideas of the dissident movement.
I got the chance to meet one of the four men, Antonio Rodiles, last month in Halifax. He made the same point to me – that lifting the sanctions would be bad – but during our conversation I got the feeling he seemed ready to adapt and take advantage of any opening should the embargo be lifted.
I think that part of the equation is missing from the press conference – in other words, bitch all you want guys, but at the end of the day, this is a done deal, and it presents an opportunity. How are you dissidents going to grasp it? The press conference, while coherent and remarkable, is also kind of a downer. No vision for the future is laid out, no hope for the future is conveyed. It’s all about how bad the regime is, and how Obama got played.
Then again, what do I know? I’ve never been to Cuba, and this is a problem the Cubans will have to sort out themselves. Perhaps if I had lived through what they have lived through, I would also find hope a fickle mistress to notch.
Regardless, these guys have suffered the regime in the flesh. They deserve to be heard.