Tuesday, April 29, 2008
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the LAT: Cuba walks tightrope of reforms

In a campaign that bears much similarity to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1980s appeal for glasnost, Cuba’s President Raul Castro has been urging the public to investigate social shortcomings, denounce them and propose improvements.


Cuban intellectuals and common folk are embracing the straight-talk notion, as did Russians 20 years ago. But here, as in the Soviet Union, the leadership is walking a tightrope, risking the collapse of a struggling, authoritarian system by granting long-denied freedoms.


Mindful of the Soviet collapse, Cuban officials are loath to allow any kind of political opening that would be perceived as diminishing the legitimacy of the Communist Party, Erikson said.1

That the Cuban state still wants nothing to do with economic liberalization is easily noted by the following:

On Monday, police broke up a peaceful demonstration in Havana by the Ladies in White group demanding the release of their jailed husbands, brothers and fathers. Several members were detained.

For more on the Ladies in White, see “>Boz’s post (including links to several news stories) from last week.

And, speaking of Cuba, the BBC notes that Raúl is set to commute basically all death sentences in Cuba:

Cuba’s President Raul Castro says nearly all death sentences are to be commuted to prison terms of between 30 years and life.


Three people charged with terrorism will stay on death row for the time being. Their cases will be reviewed.

The death penalty will remain on the statute book in Cuba.

Also of interest:

Mr Castro also announced he was convening a Communist Party congress next year – the first for more than a decade.

The congress is expected to chart Cuba’s future political and economic agenda.

  1. Daniel P. Erikson, Caribbean analyst for the Inter-American Dialogue, that is. []
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