Many of the reactions to Raul Castro’s July 26 speech were based on well founded caution about leaping to conclusions about mere signals that seem to point to policy changes. Oswaldo Paya’s reaction is here, Martha Beatriz Roque’s is here (pdf) to and a wire story rounding up opinions of several dissidents is here.
I’ll highlight two that appeared in Spanish only.
Rafael del Pino, a general in the Cuban air force who defected in 1986, wrote an article in El Nuevo Herald in which he called Raul “general” and “compañero ministro,” and urged him to undertake reforms that would improve Cuba’s economy without abandoning socialist principles or threatening Cuban sovereignty. He tells his former superior that those around him will not deliver frank advice. “All the economic problems” that Raul cited in his speech, he says, “can be resolved by lifting the blockade on Cubans on the island, giving them the right of property over the means of production.” “Be a revolutionary again,” he says; “Apply the pragmatism that has always characterized you.”
Dissident economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe said that the past year has produced no reforms, but has brought the “minimal steps” of “relatively less political mobilization” and “greater respect for television schedules,” by which he must mean a reduction in political oratory. But he called it a “concrete speech” that could create expectations for economic reform, and that offered a “series of criticisms that for a long time have been put forward by the peaceful Cuban opposition and received a response of repression and jail from the regime.” Many of Raul’s concepts are “realistic,” Chepe says, but he takes a wait-and-see attitude: “In the next months one will see if [the speech] truly constitutes the beginning of economic changes that lead to a process of reconciliation…[and] could permit a soft landing for Cuban society toward democracy, after so much time of confrontations and hate.”
[News agency photos]