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The Time to Help Cuba's Brave Dissidents Is Now: Why the Embargo Must Not be Lifted

In making it the key demand, these well-meaning (at least some of them) liberals echo precisely the propaganda of the Cuban government, thereby doing the Castro brothers' work for them here in the United States. And, as we know, many of those who call for this actually believe that the Cuban government is on the side of the people, and favor the Cuban Revolution which they see as a positive role model for the region. They have always believed, since the 1960s of their youth, that socialism in Cuba has pointed the way forward to development and liberty based on the kind of socialist society they wish could exist in the United States.

Another brave group of Cuban opponents of the regime has actually taped a television interview filmed illegally in Havana. “Young Cuban democracy leader Antonio Rodiles,” an American support group called Capitol Hill Cubans has reported, “has just released the latest episode of his civil society project Estado de Sats (filmed within Cuba), where he discusses the importance U.S. sanctions policy with two of Cuba's most renowned opposition activists and former political prisoners, Guillermo Fariñas and Jose Daniel Ferrer.”

The argument they present is aimed directly at those on the left in the United States, some of whom think they are helping democracy in Cuba by calling for an end to the embargo. In strong and clear language, the two dissidents say the following:

If at this time, the [economic] need of the Cuban government is satisfied through financial credits and the lifting of the embargo, repression would increase, it would allow for a continuation of the Castro's society, totalitarianism would strengthen its hold and philosophically, it would just be immoral ... If you did an opinion poll among Cuban opposition activists, the majority would be in favor of not lifting the embargo.

Next, they nail the claim that travel without restrictions by citizens of our country to Cuba would help spread freedom. The men respond:

In a cost-benefit analysis, travel to Cuba by Americans would be of greatest benefit to the Castro regime, while the Cuban people would be the least to benefit. With all of the controls and the totalitarian system of the government, it would be perfectly able to control such travel.

We know this, as I reported a few months ago, about how a group of Americans taking the usual state-controlled Potemkin village tour came back raving about how wonderful and free Cuba is, and how Cuban socialism works.

Finally, the two former prisoners made this point about lifting the embargo:

To lift the embargo at this time would be very prejudicial to us. The government prioritizes all of the institutions that guarantee its hold on power. The regime's political police and its jailers receive a much higher salary and privileges than a doctor or engineer, or than any other worker that benefits society. We've all seen municipalities with no fuel for an ambulance, yet with 10, 15, 20, 50 cars full of fuel ready to go repress peaceful human rights activists.

Indeed, just this past week, more evidence came out substantiating how the secret police killed Cuba’s leading political opponent Oswaldo Paya, and sought to blame it on a car crash for which he and those with him were responsible. Last week, the Washington Post in a tough editorial made the point:

Mr. Payá, who pioneered the Varela Project, a petition drive in 2002 seeking the guarantee of political freedom in Cuba, was killed in a car wreck July 22, along with a youth activist, Harold Cepero. The driver of the vehicle, Ángel Carromero, a Spaniard, was convicted and imprisoned on charges of vehicular homicide; in December, he was released to Spain. He told us in an interview published on the opposite page last week that the car carrying Mr. Payá was rammed from behind by a vehicle with government license plates. His recollections suggest that Mr. Payá died not from reckless driving but from a purposeful attempt to silence him -- forever.

This is the kind of treatment effective opponents of the regime get from Cuba’s secret police, measures taken upon orders of Raul Castro, whom useful idiots like Danny Glover and Sean Penn regularly visit. They fawn at his feet and those of his ailing brother, Fidel Castro.

This week, Sanchez and her colleague come to testify before Congress. They will speak as well at a public forum today, Tuesday, at the Cato Institute. You can watch on a live stream at 12:30 p.m. on the organization’s website.

The Cuban people have suffered long enough at the hands of a regime that came into power promising freedom and democracy, and instead inflicted on the Cuban people a totalitarian government modeled on that of the old Soviet Union. Cuba is finally on the verge of change, and it is time the people of our country give whatever support we can to those within Cuba bravely working for the creation of a real democracy in Cuba, and an end to the decades of rule by the Castro brothers.