Did someone tell President Obama that flooding Cuba with U.S. tourists would bring freedom and prosperity to the island?
Don't say that to many of Cuba's leading dissidents. They understand the Castro regime better than we do. They know that Castro Inc. will not be sharing the wealth with all of those Cuban workers who will now be catering to U.S. tourists. The dissidents know that the so-called "thaw" is nothing but a lifeline to the island's regime.
Our friends at Babalu Blog (via Capitol Hill Cubans) shared some reactions from Cuba. It sounds a lot of what we've been hearing from Miami:
Cuban dissident leaders react to President Obama's announcement to normalize relations with Castro's dictatorship:
"Sadly, President Obama made the wrong decision. The freedom and democracy of the Cuban people will not be achieved through these benefits that he's giving -- not to the Cuban people -- but to the Cuban government. The Cuban government will only take advantage to strengthen its repressive machinery, to repress civil society, its people and remain in power."
-- Berta Soler, leader of The Ladies in White.
"[Alan Gross] was not arrested for what he did, but for what could be gained from his arrest. He was simply bait and they were aware of it from the beginning... Castroism has won, though the positive result is that Alan Gross has left alive the prison that threatened to become his tomb."
-- Yoani Sanchez, Cuban blogger and independent journalist, 14ymedio.
"The Cuban people are being ignored in this secret conversation, in this secret agreement that we learned today. The reality of my country is there is just one party with all the control and with the state security controlling the whole society. If this doesn’t change, there’s no real change in Cuba. Not even with access to Internet. Not even when Cuban people can travel more than two years ago. Not even that is a sign of the end of the totalitarianism in my country."
--Rosa Maria Paya, daughter of murdered Christian Liberation Movement leader, Oswaldo Paya.
"[Obama's announcement] is horrible and disregarding the opinion of [Cuban] civil society sends a bad message. The acceptance of neo-Castroism in Cuba will mean greater support for authoritarianism in the region and, as a consequence, human rights will be relegated to a secondary role."
-- Antonio Rodiles, head of Estado de Sats.
"Alan Gross was used as a tool by the Castro regime to coerce the United States. Obama was not considerate of Cuban citizens and of the civil society that is facing this tyrannical regime. In Miami, Obama promised that he would consult Cuba measures with civil society and the non-violent opposition. Obviously, this didn't happen. That is a fact, a reality. He didn't consider Cuba's democrats. The betrayal of Cuba's democrats has been consummated."
-- Guillermo Fariñas, former Sakharov Prize recipient.
"The Obama Administration has ceded before Castro's dictatorship. Nothing has changed. The jails remain filled, the government represents only one family, repression continues, civil society is not recognized and we have no right to assemble or protest... The measures that the government of the United States has implemented today, to ease the embargo and establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, will in no way benefit the Cuban people. The steps taken will strengthen the Castro regime's repression against human rights activists and increase its resources, so the security forces can keep harassing and repressing civil society."
--Angel Moya, former political prisoner of the Black Spring (2003).
"We are in total disagreement with what has transpired today. It's a betrayal of those who within Cuba have opposed the regime in order to achieve definitive change for the good of all Cubans."
-- Felix Navarro, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU).
"It's discomforting that the accounts of the Castro regime can grow, as the first step will be more effective repression and a rise in the level of corruption."
-- Jose Daniel Ferrer, former political prisoner and co-head of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU)
"This is a betrayal that leaves the democratic opposition defenseless. Obama has allied himself with the oppressors and murderers of our people."
-- Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," former political prisoner and head of the National Resistance Front.
"I feel as though I have been abandoned on the battlefield."
-- Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, former Cuban political prisoner and U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
These are the people who are risking their lives every day, facing repression that most of us could not imagine.
They are the warriors and the ones who often end up in prison when the foreign reporters go home.
And they don't like it!
P.S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.
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