Friday, May 30, 2008

Cuba: A full-blown prison state

The Post editorial board on the real Cuba: A full-blown prison state
Posted: May 30, 2008, 11:38 AM by Marni Soupcoff

Earlier this month, we published an article by the U.S. ambassador to
Canada, David H. Wilkins, announcing a new "Day of Solidarity with the
Cuban People," to be observed on May 21. In today's edition of the
National Post, Cuba's ambassador to Canada responds. In his article,
Ernesto Senti Darias argues that Washington has no lessons to offer
Havana when it comes to humanitarian "solidarity," nor anything else.
Throughout, the ambassador presents Cuba as a proud, benevolent regime
while casting the United States as a cruel hegemon.

We chose to publish Ernesto Senti Darias's riposte because, having been
attacked on these pages, the Cuban government deserved a chance to
respond. But we also owe it to our readers to put that rebuttal in its
proper context.

The fact is, the ambassador's rebuttal is a classic example of communist
agitprop. Completely ignoring the litany of human rights abuses listed
by Mr. Wilkins, the Cuban ambassador instead ticks off showpiece Cuban
foreign aid stunts in other nations. This is a mainstay of communist
public relations: The Soviets, too, tried to distract the world from
repression and poverty back home by sending delegations overseas to
provide token good works. In Venezuela and Iran, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad are now following the same script.

Another Soviet trick — copied faithfully in the ambassador's article —
is to nitpick about U.S. socioeconomic inequality and imperfections in
America's electoral system. Even to the extent such criticism is valid,
it is laughable coming, as it does here, from a nation where attacking
the government in print can get you thrown in jail, free elections are
non-existent and many Cubans have to moonlight as taxi drivers and
escorts for tourists to make ends meet.

"The Cuban people chose their own destiny 50 years ago," the ambassador
writes. "It is the decision to continue our own path without the
interference of any foreign power." In fact, the "destiny" of the Cuban
people under the Castros has been dictatorship, pure and simple. While
most of Latin America has progressed gradually toward democracy, this
country alone has remained a full-blown prison state. Let us not be
deceived by any lectures on the subject of "solidarity" offered by
Cuba's wardens.

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