Once again Cuba's 51-year-old regime gives with one hand and takes away with another — even as the European Union is poised to discuss the potential for strengthening economic ties with the communist island.
After the Cuban dictatorship, under international pressure, seemed to be considering moving 26 sick political prisoners to hospitals a couple of weeks ago, officials cracked down again. Last week, they detained 37 dissidents for several hours to prevent them from attending meetings to discuss Cuba's political and economic crisis.
Despite the harassment, dozens of dissidents managed to attend the meetings and voted in solidarity with the Ladies in White, the Cuban women who peacefully march in Havana to call attention to their loved ones' imprisonment. They also discussed the international attention that the February death of hunger-striking dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo sparked.
Leaders of Cuba's Catholic Church have been in talks with Raul Castro in an effort to help the 26 ailing prisoners, among 75 who were swept up in 2003 in another crackdown in which the regime accused the dissidents of being U.S. "mercenaries." Back then, there appeared to be another opening on the horizon, too, as Fidel Castro put on his "charm" offensive in an effort to sway Republicans in farm-belt states to press the Bush administration to drop the U.S. embargo of Cuba.
Which raises the perennial question: Do the Castros really want trade and diplomatic relations to improve with the United States and the European Union?
To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.