Update From the NY Sun:
Friday marks the opening of the General Meeting of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, a nonviolent convention of 365 independent Cuban groups to discuss and plan for the nation’s transition to a democracy from a communist dictatorship.
Among the issues delegates will tackle are health care, poverty, labor rights, the environment, and multiparty elections. According to the meeting’s organizers, if the Assembly is allowed to take place, it will be the first open, public gathering of opposition activists in the 46-year history of Mr. Castro’s rule.
Meanwhile, a Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles, was charged yesterday with illegal entry into America by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to a statement from the agency, Mr. Posada will be held without bond until an immigration hearing set for June 13. Many observers have labeled the recent focus on the case a ploy by Havana’s strongman to distract attention from Friday’s events.
. . .
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban-American and Republican of Florida, said this week’s diversions by Mr. Castro made it all the more important that the world remain focused on the Assembly. International attention, he said, was a deterrent to acts of violence by the dictator. If Mr. Castro thought no one was paying attention to the organizers of the Assembly, Mr. Diaz-Balart said, “They would be dead.”
Not yielding to Mr. Castro’s diversions was “a matter of life and death” for the “brave heroes who are struggling and working and fighting, in a peaceful manner, for their freedom and for democracy in Cuba,” Mr. Diaz-Balart, who sponsored legislation in the House extending solidarity and support to the Assembly, said.
Yet one more story that has gone unreported:
As the Miami Herald reported last week, Mr. Castro has also arrested in recent months about 400 Cuban youths, most of them black, whom the dictator believes to be potential lawbreakers. Some observers said this week that the crackdown may be related to a fear of domestic unrest on Mr. Castro’s part related to the Assembly.
Meanwhile Charles Rangel voted against a House resolution expressing American solidarity with Cuba’s democratic activists
because of American politicians’ attitudes toward the regime in Havana. They “refuse to give the government the respect that it deserves,” he said.
Cuba is one of seven countries identified as state sponsors of terrorism by the American Department of State. What kind of respect does that deserve?