Monday, August 22, 2005

The Cuban Crackdown

Fidel Castro's brutal suppression of intellectual freedom is merely one aspect of a broader campaign by the Cuban regime against any open dissent. Courtesy of NRO's Corner, the New York Sun had a great editorial today that gives an overview of the repression. The encouraging thing is that there is evidence that this time, repression may not be enough:

Since July 22, 50 opponents of the regime have been arrested, of whom 15 remain in jail, including Mr. Gomez Manzano. Seventy-five dissidents were arrested in 2003; 61 of them are still behind bars. The government has launched a campaign of intimidation against other leaders. For example, a crowd of pro-government thugs recently surrounded the house of Vladimiro Roca for several hours, hurling invective at him as they tried to block an anti-government meeting.

Mr. Castro has managed to weather many storms during his 46-year reign, but there's hope that this time might be different. "I think we are at the tipping point," a senior program manager at Freedom House, Xavier Utset, told the Sun. The dissident movement is gaining ground, Mr. Utset said. The movement is developing into a full-blown civil society that is less afraid of the government, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, Stephen Johnson, said.

The regime also is fraying at the edges in more serious ways than ever before, a former staff member of the National Security Council, Otto Reich, told the Sun. A 15-year downward economic spiral triggered by the end of Soviet support is sinking the country further into poverty and stagnation, and aid from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela isn't nearly enough to solve the problem. Hurricane Dennis wreaked havoc on a Cuban infrastructure that was already crumbling.

It is only a matter of time before the Cuban people finally rid themselves of Fidel Castro and his Caribbean brand of Stalinism. The sooner, the better.


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