Revolution in retreat

March 24, 2012

WHEN ON JULY 31st 2006 Cuban state television broadcast a terse statement from Fidel Castro to say that he had to undergo emergency surgery and was temporarily handing over to his brother, Raúl (pictured with Fidel, left), it felt like the end of an era. The man who had dominated every aspect of life on the island for almost half a century seemed to be on his way out. In the event Fidel survived, and nothing appeared to change. Even so, that July evening marked the start of a slow but irreversible dismantling of communism (officially, “socialism”) in one of the tiny handful of countries in which it survived into the 21st century.

Raúl Castro, who formally took over as Cuba’s president in February 2008 and as first secretary of the Communist Party in April 2011, is trying to revive the island’s moribund economy by transferring a substantial chunk of it from state to private hands, with profound social and political implications. He has abolished a few of the many petty restrictions that pervade Cubans’ lives. He has also freed around 130 political prisoners. His government has signed the UN covenants on human rights, something his brother had jibbed at for three decades. Repression has become less brutal, though two prisoners have died on hunger strikes. Cubans grumble far more openly than they used to, and academic debate has become a bit freer. But calls for democracy and free elections are still silenced. The Communist Party remains the only legal political party in Cuba. And Raúl Castro has repeatedly dashed the hopes of many Cubans that the hated exit visa, which makes it hard (and for some, impossible) to leave the country, will be scrapped....

Recent Articles

Date Title
3/30/12 The Pope’s Historic Visit to Cuba
Tomas Bilbao, Americas Quarterly Blog
3/30/12 Miami archbishop returns from Cuba pope visit
AP, The Wall Street Journal
3/30/12 Cuban-Americans traveling to homeland see hope in future
AP, Fox News
3/30/12 Judging Cuba's Cardinal Ortega and Pope Benedict's Trip to the Island
Anya Landau French, The Huffington Post
3/29/12 Pope urges greater openings in vast Cuban Mass
Anne-Marie Garcia and Nicole Winfield, AP
3/29/12 Flotilla shoots off fireworks near Cuba
Cammy Clark, The Miami Herald
3/29/12 Analysis: Pope, Castros talked past each other
Paul Haven, AP
3/29/12 Pope Benedict calls for ‘change’ after three days in Cuba
Franco Ordonez and Dan Chang, The Miami Herald
3/29/12 Full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s farewell speech at Jose Marti Airport
Vatican Radio
3/28/12 Cuban-American, father make emotional return to family home in Havana during papal pilgrimage
The Washington Post
3/28/12 Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski gets standing ovation for sermon at Havana Cathedral
The Washington Post
3/28/12 Fidel Castro asks for 'modest and simple' meeting with pope
3/28/12 Papal visit sparks hope in Cuba
BBC News
3/28/12 Pope plays politics with Castro
John Paul Rathbone, Financial Times
3/28/12 Cuban-Americans debate merits of pope's visit
AJ Goodwin, NBC News
3/28/12 Pope arrives in Havana; Cuban officials disavow political reform
Daniel Chang and Nancy San Martin, The Miami Herald
3/28/12 Pope prays for freedom, 'renewal' in Cuba
Peter Orsi and Andrea Rodriguez, AP
3/28/12 Cuban Official Rules Out Reforms Urged by Pope
Randal C. Archibold and Rachel Donadio, The New York Times
3/28/12 Cuban businessmen see freedom on the horizon
Byron Pitts, CBS News
3/27/12 The pope, political prisoners and Cuba
CNN Belief Blog -
3/27/12 Papal visit to Cuba spurs talk of jailed U.S. contractor
CNN Belief Blog -
3/27/12 ‘We must build a bridge over that ocean’
Andy Gomez, The Miami Herald
3/27/12 Pope Benedict XVI calls for ‘reconciliation’ on his visit to Cuba
Mimi Whitefield, Kevin Hall and Franco Ordonez, The Miami Herald
3/27/12 Benedict prays to Cuba patron Virgin of Charity
Andra Rodriguez and Peter Orsi, The Miami Herald
3/26/12 Pope 'could reinforce' church in state-atheist Cuba
BBC News
3/26/12 Cuba’s Ladies in White march without incident in Havana, but report detentions of others
Franco Ordonez and Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
3/25/12 Cuban-Americans head to Cuba for pope's visit
Associated Press
3/24/12 Cuba replaces senior revolutionary figure
Peter Orsi, The Miami Herald
3/24/12 Pope Benedict: communism no longer working in Cuba
3/24/12 Current Record
3/23/12 Pope's trip sparks hopes for change in Cuba
Jeff Franks, Reuters
3/22/12 Miami-Dade attorney: Florida law restricting hiring of companies with business ties to Cuba 'inoperative'
Naked Politics, The Miami Herald
3/22/12 Amnesty International: Short-term detentions of Cuban dissidents accelerate
Mimi Whitefield, The Miami Herald
3/22/12 US panel on religious freedom reports Cuban violations
Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
3/22/12 Vatican: Pope's Cuba trip should help democracy
Nicole Winfield, The Miami Herald
3/22/12 Is Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism? Let’s get real, State Department
Brigadier Gen. John Adams and David W. Jones, The Hill
3/22/12 Dissident Cuban Blogger Sees Opportunity in Pope Visit
VOA News
3/21/12 A Cuban's Prayer for Pope Benedict
Oscar Elias Biscet, The Wall Street Journal
3/21/12 Miami exiles soften on pope's Cuba visit
Reuters, Chicago Tribune
3/21/12 More than 800 to participate in Miami archdiocese pilgrimage to Cuba
Mimi Whitfield and Daniel Shoer Roth, The Miami Herald
3/21/12 Cuba says opposition trying to disrupt papal trip
AP, The Miami Herald
3/21/12 Pope Benedict and the road to reconciliation
Michael Putney, The Miami Herald
3/20/12 Cuban dissident leader free after brief detention
Andrea Rodriguez, The Miami Herald
3/20/12 Cuban spy convicted in Miami can travel home to visit sick brother
El Nuevo Herald
3/20/12 Pope’s visit to Cuba unites and divides
Carlos Alberto Montaner, The Miami Herald
3/20/12 Can the Pope bring hope to Cubans?
Editorial Opinion, The Washington Post
3/19/12 Many hope Pope will address religious education, dissidents and more during trip to Cuba
Miami Herald, Mimi Whitfield
3/19/12 Cuba detains 70 Ladies in White ahead of pope visit
3/19/12 Dialogue with Cuba as ‘contact sport’
Jose Manuel Palli, Miami Herald
3/17/12 Cuba's government offers state workers paid time off to see Pope Benedict XVI during visit
The Washington Post
3/8/12 Cuba to skip regional summit, averting diplomatic flap
3/7/12 US doesn't expect Cuba upheaval: general
3/5/12 Cuban farm produced milk, with the help of corrupt government workers
Juan Tamayo, The Miami Herald
3/1/12 Issue #8: With pain but without glory
From the Island, Oscar Espinosa Chepe