Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cuba: Is It Different This Time?

by Alvaro Vargas Llosa

Independent Institute
July 21, 2010

You have to hand it to Fidel and Raul Castro. They are masterful tacticians. Whenever they have needed to diffuse pressure, they set tongues wagging with speculation about reform. By the time the ruse was exposed, another period of stability had set in. The recent announcement that 52 political prisoners will go free has spawned a whirlwind of conjecture. Are the brothers at it again?

The slow-motion release that began last week and will go on for months will liberate one-third of Cuba’s political prisoners, according to the Havana-based Cuban Commission for Human Rights. These men emerged some years ago as a group of independent journalists. Together with an organization of librarians and some bloggers, they later embarked on an effort to bring to life a Cuban civil society. Not since the emergence of illegal human rights organizations and political parties had anything more encouraging happened. No wonder the Castros incarcerated 75 of them. What they did not anticipate was that the wives and sisters of the prisoners would jump to fame. With a campaign that got louder and bolder with every pogrom that busted their marches, the incredible Ladies in White gained for these heroes the attention of the world.