Cuba without Castro: Seeds of Change Finally Sprouting ; the US and Others Must Provide Resources and Information to Post- Fidel Cuba

Article excerpt

With Fidel Castro currently, and perhaps permanently, not controlling events in Cuba, how should the United States react?

If there is one thing on which many Cuba-watchers seem to agree, it is that we will not see a seamless succession to Mr. Castro's brother, Raul. With or without Raul, a transition will take place, the shape of which will involve changes not yet clear. As one Cuban- American with good sources within Cuba puts it: "When you break an egg, you can make fried egg or scrambled egg, but you cannot re- create the egg."

What the US would like to see is a dramatic shift away from dictatorial rule, with Cuba emerging as a democracy with a robust free-market economy. Though Iraq and Lebanon dominate the Bush administration's foreign policy agenda, President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and White House spokesman Tony Snow have all taken time to stress this in public statements. Concern about Cuba's future has been heightened in Washington since left-leaning Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez succeeded Russia as Cuba's patron and savior, finding common political cause with Fidel, and propping up Cuba's ailing economy with subsidized Venezuelan oil.

How can the US encourage reform and democracy in Cuba? First, by encouraging a free information flow to a country whose citizens have long been subjected by its government to censorship and propaganda.

I understand that TV-Marti and Radio Marti, the US government- sponsored broadcasting entities that beam news to Cuba much as Radio Free Europe did to the captive nations of Eastern Europe during the cold war, will soon be operating on an extended basis from EC-130E/ J Commando Solo aircraft maintained by the US Air Force. This airborne delivery will hopefully overcome Cuban jamming, which has prevented many Cubans from watching and listening to these broadcast reports.

By this and other means, the US can support the dissidents in Cuba and underline the atrocious human rights records of the Castro regime.

The US government has for some time been working on plans to not only encourage the freedom movement in Cuba today, but to support a democratic transition tomorrow. The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba made initial recommendations in 2004 and, under the chairmanship of Dr. …


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