Without a doubt, Pres. Obama’s December 17 Statement on Cuba Policy Changes was the top news of 2014 on Latin America.
Along with the Statement, American hostage Alan Gross was released in exchange for three Cuban spies, whose ringleader, Gerardo Hernández, was serving two life sentences. Gerardo Hernández’s wife was able to impregnate his wife through artificial insemination by having his sperm collected at prison in the U.S. and then flown to Cuba at U.S. taxpayers’ expense as part of the deal. Hernández was greeted as a hero in Havana as soon as he landed in Cuba.
The takeaway from Obama’s Statement was that a new U.S. policy towards Cuba would lead to a new Cuba policy towards the U.S. It didn’t take long for Mariela Castro, daughter of dictator Raul Castro and member of the Cuban Parliament, to disabuse us of that notion.
More significantly, the new U.S. policy towards Cuba has meant no change at all towards dissidents. Just yesterday (emphasis added)
Cuban authorities arrested dissidents, independent journalists and a well-known artist Tuesday in an apparent attempt to block a rally in Havana’s revolutionary square organized by a new movement that calls itself #YoTambienExijo (I also demand).
Among those detained were journalist Reinaldo Escobar, editor of the online 14ymedio publication and husband of prominent blogger Yoani Sánchez; Eliecer Ávila, an activist; and Antonio Rodiles, who directs a human rights group called Estado de Sats. Sánchez, who founded 14ymedio, reported the arrests on Twitter.
Sánchez said she was placed under house arrest and also reported that several other 14ymedio contributors were visited by State Security officers and warned not to cover the event, which was scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. at the Plaza de la Revolución.
The demonstration called for participants to go before a microphone for one minute to share their thoughts, concerns or ideas about how Cuba’s future should unfold.
Cuban authorities had denied permission to its organizers. Leading the event was artist Tania Bruguera.
As for the rest of Obama’s Statement, Frances Martell examined LINE BY LINE: EVERY EMPTY PROMISE IN OBAMA’S CUBA SPEECH.
Meanwhile, Bruguera, who resides in the U.S., is still detained, whereabouts unknown.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics at Fausta’s Blog.