Saturday, April 26, 2003

Carlos Fuentes called Cuba a "suffocating dictatorship." Jose Saramago said Fidel Castro "cheated his dreams."

Shocked at Cuba's recent crackdown on dissent, many leftist intellectuals and authors find themselves criticizing a government they spent years applauding.

The backlash appears to have caught Cuba off guard and forced officials to defend themselves against not only their foes--but also their longtime friends....

"Must they learn the bad habits of the enemy they are fighting?" wrote Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano, who once praised Castro as a "symbol of national dignity."...

Fuentes, a Mexican novelist and longtime Cuba supporter, was even more disillusioned. He lumped Bush and Castro together and declared himself against both. Castro, he said, needs "his American enemy to justify his own failings."

"As a Mexican, I wish for my country neither the dictates of Washington on foreign policy, nor the Cuban example of a suffocating dictatorship," he wrote in a letter published in Mexico City's Reforma newspaper.

He wasn't alone. Saramago, a Portuguese writer who won the 1998 Nobel Prize for literature and considered himself a close friend of Castro, said Cuba "has lost my confidence, damaged my hopes, cheated my dreams."

Colombian Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who lives part-time in Cuba, has been silent on the issue. But his magazine, Cambio, published an article saying "few other repressive waves have left a government so isolated and rejected."...

Fuentes warned it will be hard for Castro to bounce back.

The Cuban president, he said, is preparing "the way for his own exit from the world stage in a hail of flames."

--From an Associated Press report issued yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Bahamas has just established a permanent embassy in Havana, which was the subject of an op-ed piece by Dr. Kevin Alcena in yesterday's Nassau Guardian. Dr. Alcena goes on at great length about the ill-effects of the embargo, & denounces what he calls the "imperialistic agenda against Cuba", but does not think it necessary to even mention Castro's recent crackdown on journalists, librarians, & other dissidents.

But what was it Carlos Fuentes said? "He lumped Bush and Castro together and declared himself against both." Unreasonable? Read Amnesty International's report on what's been going on at Guantanamo:

Reports indicate that a "handful" of children, described as being between the ages of 13 and 15 years old, have been "discovered" by the authorities in Guantanamo. It is reported that the children were transferred, possibly from Afghanistan, earlier this year. It had already been reported that a 16-year-old Canadian national was transferred in late 2002 from Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Naval Base. Reports indicate that it took six months for even the Canadian government to be granted access to him. Along with all the other detainees, he remains without access to legal counsel or his family.

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