Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Times changing in Cuba, says dissident at Forum 2000

Times changing in Cuba, says dissident at Forum 2000
ČTK | 19 OCTOBER 2016

Prague, Oct 18 (CTK) - Many things have changed in Cuba over the past
year, people are no longer afraid of expressing their views and they
have a bigger awareness of their rights, Cuban dissident Manuel Cuesta
Morua, a guest to the Forum 2000 conference on challenges in new
millennium in Prague, told CTK on Tuesday.

On the other hand, repressions continue and people are arrested
especially during street protests, he added.

Mood in society has changed in all spheres. People are more informed and
readier to listen to dissidents ' views and visions. The change is
irreversible, Cuesta Morua, a co-founder of the Cuban Social Democratic
Party, said.

Cubans are no longer afraid to speak up. When walking in the street, one
can often hear the debates of the people who speak in such a manner in
which even an opposition leader would not be speaking in the street, he

The government is trying to adapt to the situation and the new era,
Cuesta Morua said.

However, it has turned out in the past weeks that it is not ready to
limit its power in any significant way, he added.

Two weeks ago, it issued a decree that from now on it will no longer
issue licences to open restaurants. The government sees that private
restaurants are better than the state-run ones and is also afraid of
people becoming rich, Cuesta Morua said.

Ordinary Cubans have an opportunity to get more money from the families
living outside Cuba, can become employees of a new private business and
have a bigger contact with tourists, he added.

After Obama's visit, the number of tourists skyrocketed. For Cubans, the
contacts are very important because they widen their outlook, Cuesta
Morua said.

U.S. President Barack Obama visited Havana last spring. It was the first
visit by a U.S. president in 88 years.

The situation is also better for the Cuban opposition, Cuesta Morua said.

He said in the past people turned their backs on it, closing their doors
and not listening. Now they are much opener to its activities, he added.

However, this does not mean that repressions, arrests and persecution
had stopped, Cuesta Morua said.

Two weeks ago, a group of lawyers who represent the people persecuted by
the regime were targeted by an attack, he added.

They were assaulted and beaten up in their homes, their things and the
data they had with them were taken away from them, Cuesta Morua said.

They were accused of illegal economic activities. With this, the
government masked the real motive of its step, he added.

Opposition representatives are mostly detained for three to five hours
in order to harm their activities and then they are released, Cuesta
Morua said.

The next day, they may be rearrested, which is a much worse pressure on
their minds, he added.

In Cuba, there are still 82 political prisoners and none was released
recently, Cuesta Morua said.

The resumption of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the USA has a
certain influence on changes in the country, he added.

The government has lost the excuse it used in the past. It can no longer
claim that changes in Cuba are impossible due to bad relations with
Washington, Cuesta Morua said.

It cannot blame the USA for the bad development of the Cuban economy
either, he added.

On the other hand, Americans can use the resumed relations for a
pressure on Havana to release political prisoners, Cuesta Morua said.

"There is an ongoing dialogue between the two governments, also in the
sphere of human rights," he added.

The international community and the Czech Republic can help Cuban
society if they are not afraid to publicise the dissident activities,
Cuesta Morua said.

They should conduct a permanent dialogue with Cuban opposition leaders,
not only accept them at the embassy and say from time to time that the
Cuban government should stop repressions, he added.

In this way, the EU can prove that its interest in fighting for human
rights is real, Cuesta Morua concluded.

Source: Times changing in Cuba, says dissident at Forum 2000 | Prague
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