Latin leaders to applaud Cuba’s dictatorship

Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald:

Latin leaders to applaud Cuba’s dictatorship

What’s most shameful about Latin American presidents’ scheduled visit to Cuba for a regional summit Tuesday is not that they will visit one of the world’s last family dictatorships, but that they most likely won’t even set foot at a parallel summit that the island’s peaceful opposition plans to hold at the same time.

Barring last-minute surprises, the 32 Latin American and Caribbean heads of state and government representatives scheduled to attend the Tuesday-Thursday summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana will skip the international diplomatic practice of meeting with opposition leaders or independent civil society groups during their trip to Cuba.

So far, not even Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who wants to be seen as part of a new generation of leaders of his once-authoritarian Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has plans to meet with any member of the peaceful opposition while in Cuba.

By comparison, former President Vicente Fox and his foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, met with peaceful opposition leaders during a visit to Cuba in 2002, and former Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green met with Cuban dissidents during a summit in Havana in 1999. And the Castro brothers meet with leftist opposition leaders whenever they go to summits in countries that are not ruled by sympathetic leaders.

In a Jan. 18 interview with the Spanish daily El Pais, Mexican Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade said that “we want to develop a very close relationship with Cuba, of full support to its economic updating strategy.”

Asked whether Peña Nieto will meet with Cuban dissidents during his visit, Meade said, “President Peña Nieto will participate in Cuba in an agenda related to the CELAC summit. He has accepted an official visit, and that’s the framework in which it will develop.” Translation: He won’t.

Organization of American States Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, who is also scheduled to attend the summit as an observer, did not respond at the time of this writing to a call about whether he will meet with opposition leaders.

Guillermo Fariñas, one of the Cuban opposition leaders planning to attend the counter-summit in Havana, told me in a telephone interview from Cuba earlier this week that Cuba’s secret police has already paid a visit to several dissidents, including blogger Yoanni Sanchez, warning them not to hold the opposition summit.

“Whether or not Cuba’s repressive regime allows a parallel summit of the peaceful opposition, it will pay a political price for it,” Fariñas told me.

“If they allow it, the international media will hear from voices other than the official ones, and we will tell them that there’s no democracy in Cuba,” Fariñas said. “And if they don’t allow it, it will show that despite its propaganda efforts claiming that there are changes going on in Cuba, the reality is that there’s a wave of repression.”

The likelihood that the visiting leaders won’t meet with the opposition makes them “accomplices with the only dictatorship in Latin America,” Fariñas said. “History shows that when countries make goodwill gestures toward this kind of dictatorships, the latter use them to strengthen themselves diplomatically, politically, economically and militarily.”

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4 thoughts on “Latin leaders to applaud Cuba’s dictatorship

  1. Note to Fariñas: EVERYBODY knows there’s no democracy in Cuba and that repression is rampant, but practically nobody cares–especially the Latrine contingent, which is miles beneath contempt. These bastards have been applauding, or certainly condoning, the Castro tyranny for ages, so this is just the same old shit. Even if some of them met with certain dissidents, it would just be going through the motions–and let’s face it, even the pope didn’t meet any dissidents during the last papal visit, though he met with Nosferatu and his brood.

  2. As for the CELAC shindig in Havana, I trust the Bachelet woman from Chile will pack some sort of, uh, feminine protection, just in case she gets another audience with Fidel. The last time he received her she was practically panting with excitement.

  3. and to think that all those Cuban-Americans Congress persons want to pass the so called “immigration reform bill”. I don’t understand….Well, any way. My American life started and still in California.

  4. “And to think that all those Cuban-Americans Congress persons want to pass the so called “immigration reform bill.”

    Cough. Cough. Ahem. Cough.

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