Friends in the North

The restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which drew to a close Jan. 21 in Havana after half a century of conflict, was anything but a happy ending for a large sector of the peaceful opposition. Rather, they are now relentless and dangerous enemies of state, forced to continue living amid dictatorship and repression. Not only this, but they now make up the only anti-imperialist force present on the Cuban scene. We are dealing with an opposition group including dissident leader Antonio Rodiles, Berta Soler, a representative for opposition campaign “Ladies in White,” Guillermo Fariñas, winner of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, a dozen former political prisoners and other important figures pertaining to an independent journalism movement and civil society as a whole. These people reject the political consensus between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro due to it being agreed in secret, behind the back of Cuban society. What’s more, its original outline suggested that it would only serve to further benefit the Castro regime, which, aided by an increase in U.S. trade opportunities, could strengthen and increase the persecution of democrats in Cuba.

The regime seems to have no clear or urgent strategy aiming to promote human rights and democracy on the island. Nor does it have any evident desire for tolerance, political pluralism or freedom of expression. According to the opposition, it’s even impossible to ensure the ratification and implementation of civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights agreements signed by the U.N. “Giving to the regime without asking for anything in return is, in my eyes, a monumental error,” says Antonio Rodiles.

The above are all beliefs held by those people who spend all day under direct fire from Cuban political police. No, they’re not a group of stubborn idiots who simply scorn political negotiation and are looking to deprive Cuba from the benefits of U.S. tourism and multinational businesses. Rather, they are asking for increased freedom in exchange for support from emigrants and Yankee imperialists, once Cuba’s sworn enemy and now, according to public opinion, none other than “our friends in the North.”

Today, the opposition is slightly anti-imperialist, amongst other things as 103 of their fellow supporters have been arrested for political motives between Dec. 17, the day the agreement was announced, and Jan. 17, 72 hours after official discussions began.

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