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TEMA: The Cuban government's poker game

The Cuban government's poker game 24 Jul 2010 17:59 #3349

  • Gerardo E. Martínez-Solanas
  • Avatar de Gerardo E. Martínez-Solanas Autor del tema
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The brothers Castro excel as political poker players and 50 years of iron ruling bear historical witness of their prowess. Their bet is to stay in power at whatever cost for the Cuban people. They are used to bluff when necessary to keep winning.

Political prisoners are no more than another card to be played when they need to rise their bets. This is a card that they have used often with constant success.

The Cuban government has recently released 20 political prisoners from the 52 still serving prison terms of the overall 75 sentenced on the Spring of 2003. Some 100 additional political prisoners have not been included so far in the deal reached with the Catholic church and Spain's Foreign Minister Moratinos.

The brothers Castro are bluffing and their meager concessions would get them high gains. Their payback would be to silence demands by Amnesty International, leave the Damas de Blanco with no grounds for their plight on behalf of their imprisoned family members, get rid of annoying opponents by forcefully exiling them, promote friendly Spain’s proposal to eliminate the EU’s "Common Position" imposing restrictions on Cuba, and provide Representative Collin Peterson, U.S. House Agriculture Committee chairman, with evidence to support a bill that lifts restrictions over travel to Cuba and paves the way to agricultural sales and even credits.

It is true that on humanitarian grounds the release of even one political prisoner would be great news. Whoever gets free from Cuban gaols is being saved from hell. Twenty political opponents have been summarily taken from prison to airport and shipped to Spain. The Cuban government has promised Cardenal Ortega to let go some 30 more prisoners, Moratinos is ready to accept them in Spain and Piñera has offered to give political asylum to some of them in Chile.

However, it is quite important to wait and see what will happen if Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos does not gather enough votes in the European Parliament to eliminate the Common Position, or if Representative Peterson does not get his bill passed in the U.S. Congress. Will the brothers Castro backtrack on their promise? Probably so. And probably they will soon be capturing more opponents to be used on further exchanges in the future.

It would also be interesting to find whether the dialogue with Cardenal Ortega will eventually lead to an open dialogue with Cubans on the island, and whether the Cuban people are finally granted the freedom and rights they have for so long been deprived of. Only then we will be able to speak of the victory of Zapata’s ideals, of the efforts of Guillermo Fariñas, Oscar Elías Biscet, Ariel Sigler Amaya, of the group of 75, of the Damas de Blanco, and of thousands of Cubans who have fueled this movement towards freedom and respect for human rights.

The Cuban people have a winning hand but the brothers Castro will bluff again and they may even rise their bets confident on the repressive aces they always keep ready in their sleeves.

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