Friday, April 16, 2010

36. Two Types of Dissent in Cuba

From Cuba Central Newsblast, April 16, 2010.

Marc Frank, who covers Cuba for several news agencies, wrote a piece in the Financial Times this week about what type of dissent is being allowed by President Raúl Castro. 

According to Frank, President Castro has "responded to rising discontent and the need for economic reform by seeking to engage with the disaffected but he has proved as intolerant to the 'counter- revolution' as his brother." He points out that the same day that hunger-striker Mr. Zapata was buried and the Ladies in White marched in protest, 250,000 small farmers and private co-operative members openly criticized Communist authorities at a preparatory congress about agriculture. "The farmers were every bit as vocal as the women marchers, blaming the government for food shortages and demanding radical change in the state monopoly on resources such as fertilizer, and the distribution and sale of their products."

"While the Ladies in White received ample coverage and support abroad, they were met by jeering throngs in Cuba," Frank writes, "Not a soul joined them. No one lit a candle for Zapata. There was no vigil outside the hospital where Guillermo Fariñas, another dissident hunger striker, is receiving intravenous sustenance at his request."

The farmers, on the other hand, writes Frank, "received no attention abroad but sympathy at home for their demands that state bureaucrats meet their obligations or get out of the way." According to one Western diplomat, "the trick would be to bring the two currents together." 

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