Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Protests and celebrations on 60th anniversary of signing of human rights declaration

Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said there are "imperfections" in Cuba's human rights record, but the country "can be proud of how it has treated its people," the Associated Press reported.
Cuba can celebrate this day with head held high, the AP quoted Perez Roque as saying.
Perez Roque attended a conference Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cuban dissidents, meantime, protested the way the socialist government treats its citizenry and the Miami Herald reported that at least 20 people were detained in advance of a scheduled demonstration.
The Herald said state security agents arrested some members of the Federation of Latin American Women, a dissident group that is lobbying for an end to Cuba's dual currency.

FLAMUR President Belinda Salas said in a statement published in the Herald:
They did not even ask for identification. My husband Lazaro got such a beating that he was bleeding profusely through his mouth and head, plus he was struck hard on his testicles. . . . They ripped my blouse, leaving me naked, and the beating left me with a fractured hand.
I couldn't find that statement on FLAMUR's Web site; I'm sure it's out there somewhere.
Cuban officials have said that the U.S. government supports and finances the dissident movement as part of a plan to bring about regime change. And they say they have the right to take their own path without outside interference.

I have a lot more questions than answers about all this. For starters:
1. How widespread is Cuba's dissident movement?
2. How much of the movement is homegrown, operating free of U.S. support and influence?
3. Would Cuba lighten up on dissidents if the U.S. weren't so intent on toppling the socialist government? Why not let the dissidents hold a march? What does the Cuban government fear?
4. What impact do the dissident crackdowns have on the rest of the Cuban populace? Do they make people want to join the dissidents or steer clear?
5. Have Cuban government tactics with dissidents changed under Raul Castro? Where Fidel Castro was able to use persuasion to keep certain elements in check, is his less charismatic brother left only with force?
6. Will Cuban authorities be able to keep the dissident movement from spreading in this new age of blogging and Generacion Y?
7. How much influence do Cuban exiles have in Cuba?
8. Will the U.S. government's approach to Cuba change after Barack Obama takes office?
9. Would Cuba treat dissidents differently if Obama led a shift in U.S. policy toward Cuba?
10. Is a peaceful, bloodless resolution to the U.S.-Cuba conflict possible?


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